Bali From Long Ago

Surf and Turf in Indonesia


April 21, 2016
Words by Laura Grier
Photos courtesy of Beautiful Day Photography

Off the coast of Bali, Indonesia is a small, underdeveloped island called Flores – affectionately known as “The Bali from 20 years ago” because it still has pristine beaches and no traffic or pollution. Here, humanity craves simplicity and the people that make their way to this island are choosing a simpler existence and a slower paced life.

As we descended into Flores, you are flying over hundreds of islands, some of them completely uninhabited, the shores dotted with ancient fishing boats from a long gone era.

Once in Flores, you have your choice of staying on one of the island’s private beach resorts or you can take to the ocean on an ancient fishing boat and set sail through some of the hundreds of nearby Indonesian islands.

But why not do both?

While down there I met the owner of Seraya Hotel who also owns a Phinisi Boat called Aqualuna, available for charter with a crew for 3 to 5 days from the hotel. Marilena did it right by creating both an island sanctuary hotel and then a floating sanctuary, giving you the perfect mix of isolation and freedom.

Seraya Hotel is luxurious cluster of eco-villas on a private stretch of beach nestled in a cove surrounded by some of the most pristine coral reefs.  You can walk out in the water from your villa to snorkel or scuba dive. Spend a day lounging by the pool, get a massage or have cocktails and sprawl out on pillows in their open-air lounge. It is truly a place you want to go to get away. If that is not enough solitude or luxury for you, you can rent out their main villa on the hilltop, complete with it’s own butler and staff.

The second half of our trip was spent aboard the Aqualuna Selini, the private boat belonging Seraya Hotel. At first glance it looks like an old pirate ship, but you can sleep twelve people comfortably downstairs. The boat has 4 comfortable private cabins, but most people love to sleep under the stars on the deck.

We set sail in search of Komodo Dragons, real-life dragons that live nowhere else on Earth. We would lounge on the deck to watch bats migrate each night at and watch the sky change colors and the stars shine. At first you thought the water was reflecting the sky, but it was bioluminescent plankton in the water, glittering like diamonds in the wake. 

There is something magical about life on the water.  The second we stepped foot on the boat it was if time slowed way down.  Maybe it was the subliminal rocking of the waves, or the sense of adventure or freedom to go anywhere, but it is as if your internal clock becomes synched with nature and you find yourself rising and setting with the sun. 

To really experience life in Flores or on any of the two hundred islands in the area, you must do it on a boat. The water culture there is how everyone lives.  You have the freedom to dip in and out of the islands, yet always have a calm place to return back to.

It is reassuring to know that places like this still exist on Earth. That there are still lands untouched by humans and ruled by nature.  Places where the days and nights stretch out into infinity and you can still go back and find a simpler place in time.

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