Wander Women Wednesdays are back! This mid-week feature is all about highlighting an upcoming Wander Women Retreat, or a new aspect of our retreat business we’re excited about.
Did you hear? We’re heading back to sea with ScubaSpa! (A misnomer by the way, since you don’t need to be a diver to enjoy this retreat to the fullest — more on that later!)
I’m sure after this week’s posts — more to come, by the way — you can see why we’re going back for round two. Our Maldives trip was simply unlike anything we’ve ever done before, and when we saw ScubaSpa was launching a sister ship in Raja Ampat, we knew we had to be onboard, figuratively and most definitely literally.
Our first Wander Women liveaboard sold out so fast I didn’t even get a chance to write a blog post about it here. This one has two spots left as I press publish — I can’t wait to see who snaps them up! Because Wander Women Indonesia: A Dive + Spa Liveaboard truly is the trip of a lifetime — March 14-21, 2023 is the one and only time Wander Women will charter this boat! (Did we mention that those who also nab a spot in Wander Women Bali get 10% off that trip?)
I am pretty proud that we were able to offer this luxurious, limited-availability liveaboard for the same price ScubaSpa offers it, but with all the Wander Women touches like having a private photographer, our own premium yoga instructor (ahem), luxury welcome gifts, and guaranteed good vibes. One of the biggest gambles of a liveaboard is not knowing who you’ll be stuck at sea with. Not to brag, but Wander Women are consistently fantastic!
We’ll sail aboard a beautifully renovated phinisi, a traditional Indonesian sailing vessel turned floating eco-resort, for a blissful seven nights of unparalleled diving and indulgent spa treatments exploring the topside and underwater of some of the most beautiful islands on Earth. The Indonesian Archipelago is a global biodiversity hotspot, one of one of only eight major coral reef zones remaining in the world, housing more than 76% of the world coral species and more species of reef fish than anywhere else on the planet. Talk about bucket list.
And I can’t think of anyone better to explore it with than ScubaSpa, who’s award-winning vessels offers exceptional scuba diving, indulgent onboard spa facilities, creative gourmet cuisine, lush yoga decks, stunning itineraries, and truly outstanding service. I cried when we left the Maldives boat!
When you’re not enjoying a hot stone massage or visiting one of the world’s top dive sites, we’ll be stopping for visits to deserted islands, stand up paddle boarding in crystal clear water, or watching a movie and stargazing from the top deck. This boat was created specifically for divers and non-divers alike — so grab a friend who loves snorkeling and spa treatments as much as you love exploring underwater for an unforgettable week immersing in the islands of the Four Kings and toasting to sunsets with me on the spa deck.
This floating retreat will be held from March 14-21, 2023. The cost, which includes nearly everything for the week, starts at $6,075 USD. Each guest will choose their preferred package type, with options listed below.
• Seven nights of accommodation on a luxurious phinisi sailboat
• All meals — seven breakfasts, six lunches, and seven dinners, prepared by internationally qualified chefs
• Daily yoga classes
• Up to eight spa treatments (depending on package chosen)
• Up to fourteen dives (depending on package chosen)
• Visits to secluded islands
• Snorkeling, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in the crystal clear waters
• Movie night under the stars on the top deck
• BBQ on a deserted island
• On board wifi for multiple devices, up to 1 GB of usage per a guest (additional coverage available for purchase)
• Liveaboard taxes, service fees and national park entrance, typically charged separately, but covered by us
• A custom welcome bag
• Professional photos of the trip, including underwater shots!
• Roundtrip airport transfers
• Donation to an Indonesian charity, 4Oceans, that supports marine conservation efforts
What’s Not Included
• Flights to Sorong, Indonesia
• Alcohol and snacks not included in the itinerary
• Coffee and tea after breakfast (free of charge during breakfast)
• Dive gear (available for rental) – please note that dive computers are required in Raja Ampat
• Wifi over 1GB of usage
• Mandatory dive and travel insurance
• Tips for the local boat staff (we’ll provide guidance)
• Scuba Enthusiast: This scuba package is for the diehard bubble blowers. You’ll skip the spa treatments for up to fourteen dives over the course of the week. Spa treatments are available for purchase!
• Scuba and Spa: Love both underwater adventures and indulgent topside experiences? Us too! Book this package for six dives and four spa treatments.
• Spa Seeker: This one is for those looking for a wellness week of total relaxation. You’ll get to enjoy eight spa treatments as well as guided snorkeling trips — gear included!
The below itinerary is a sample planned route — but as we want our trip to be unforgettable, we’ll constantly be in search of unique opportunities and experiences. Itinerary is subject to changes due to season, weather conditions and circumstances. And of course, expect a few Wander Women surprises thrown in!
Day 1: Welcome to Indonesia! You’re on island time now. You’ll be picked up at the Sorong Airport and board our luxury phinisi where you can drop your bags and meet for a restorative yoga class to stretch out your travel kinks. Later on, we’ll gather for a safety briefing and dinner al fresco on the deck. The fun has just begun!
Day 2: Rise and shine for a sunrise vinyasa class! Grab some tropical fruit and breakfast, and settle in for a day of diving or spa treatments. We’ll visit Mioskon and Waigeo, where schools of yellow snapper, napoleon wrasse, giant groupers, and wobbegong sharks can be found waiting for both snorkelers and divers alike. Tonight there will also be a night dive at Maaya Tapokren, renowned for its rich biodiversity.
Day 3: Wake up to Gam Island, with its lush and hilly jungle landscape, famous for its population of birds of paradise. Divers can get an early start with a morning dive before breakfast, where we’ll hopefully see wobbegong sharks and pygmy seahorses. Depending on your package, enjoy another dive in the afternoon or a day of pampering in the spa and we’ll meet back up for sun salutations. Enjoy your evening dive at Aljui village jetty, which is also famous for its pearl farm.
Day 4: Picturesque Wayag is a spectacular group of islands and a beautiful site to start your day. We will visit the legendary dive site Cathedral, which is renowned for its spectacular topography and swim-throughs. Meet us on the top deck for a sunset slow and after dinner we will enjoy a movie night under the stars!
Day 5: Another day, another spectacular dive. Kick off Day 5 with a morning dive at Black Rock and Eagle Rock, dive sites well known for their currents and manta populations. Continue your dive expedition at Aljui Wall, which ends in chances a wonderland of shallow corals. Dine under the stars with a beach BBQ after practicing partner yoga on a deserted beach.
Day 6: Awake next to Piaynemo, home to magnificent dive sites like My Reef, a submerged ridge with a wonderful hard coral garden and a hotspot of fish activity. We will then hike to a viewpoint for an awe-inspiring view overlooking the archipelago, a truly Instaworthy view! End the day with yoga nidra that will lull you off to a deep and restful state.
Day 7: Spend your last day at Sawandarek Village, a picturesque area known for its long white beaches. Enjoy an absolutely stunning final dive popular for the hundreds of fish that congregate in and around the multicolored hard and soft corals along with octopi, massive turtles, and giant clams. Non-divers can enjoy snorkeling, spa treatments, and our daily yoga class — we’ll have a local instructor lead one one day partially in the local language, for fun! We’ll then gather for our farewell cocktail and a final dinner on the al fresco restaurant on the phisini.
Day 8: Today we’ll say farewell to our beautiful home for the week. After a final breakfast, exchange photos and contact info with all your new Wander Women besties for future adventures. You’ll have two options for your airport transfer back, depending on your flight schedule.
Where We’ll Stay and Where We’ll Eat
This isn’t your average liveaboard dive vessel! The ScubaSpa Zen is a floating PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, complete with spacious rooms, an extraordinary onboard spa, and much, much, more. Rooms are spread along two decks, with slightly larger Superior Double rooms located on the upper deck and featuring panoramic windows and direct outdoor access. Doubles on the lower deck have port lights for peeks out to sea! All rooms have air conditioning and en suite bathrooms with shower. Traveling with two dive buddies? Contact us to book the boat’s sole triple cabin on the upper deck.
When you’re not relaxing in your traditional teak cabin, you’ll be luxuriating and enjoying the boat’s ample amenities. The spa offers a wide range of classic and signature spa treatments, a secluded deck for open-air Thai massage or meditation, and a spa lounge for relaxation. And of course, in typical Wander Women style, we’ll get our yoga on! Some days we’ll flow on the top deck, while some days we’ll hit a private beach for our asanas. The rest of the day, bathe in the tropical climate on the spacious sun-deck to melt away all your stress. And it wouldn’t be complete without an outdoor bar, which is the ideal spot from which to sip a glass of fizz while the sun sets on another day across the Coral Triangle.
All of your meals are included and will be prepared by internationally qualified chefs. We’ll dine on varied cuisine at buffet-style meals, complete with live cooking stations served in the spacious al fresco restaurant at the rear of the main deck. Vegetarians and vegans will be easily accommodated. For those looking to indulge further, wine and cocktails are available each meal for purchase (and between meals at the bar — let’s toast to you!).
Given that Raja Ampat is one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems, our vessel and their operators have sustainability as a top priority. All of the waste is treated with a state-of-the-art system, and the boat has reduced plastic use by installing mineralized water plants, eliminating single-use plastic water bottles, and replacing plastic straws with reusable glass and aluminum ones.
Raja Ampat has been called “the Amazon of the Seas,” boasting the record amount of fish species ever recorded in one dive, and graces the bucket list of underwater addicts everywhere. Diving in Indonesia can be challenging due to strong currents, and dive sites are in most cases very remote. Divers will be required to hold an Advanced Open Water certification or equivalent with a minimum of 30 logged dives.
Raja Ampat is home to world-class dive sites with rich biodiversity, thriving coral beds and incredible visibility. Indonesia boasts a tropical climate, stretching for more than 5000 km on either side of the equator. We chose March for our retreat dates as the sky and seas are clearest during this dry season, ranked as peak season for liveaboards. Water temperatures are balmy in the low 70s to low 80s F (23-29 C). As if one luxury yacht wasn’t enough, we’ll be hopping in the turquoise waters from a separate dive vessel which carries our equipment, including air compressors and state-of-the-art nitrox. The dive boat is purpose built for comfort, with plentiful seating, multiple entry points, a stern platform, and on-board toilet facilities. We’ll be diving with experienced, multilingual dive masters/instructors and boat crew throughout the week.
Diving from a liveaboard offers the opportunity to visit many different reefs and dive sites throughout the archipelago, so we’ll drop anchor at secluded dive spots off the beaten path. Expect swim throughs, caves, overhangs, healthy coral reefs, and a night dive. Whether you’re an instructor or recently certified, there will be plenty for you to see. (Turtles galore! Hopefully hammerheads! Excited for eagle rays!) Groups will be divided based on experience level.
Getting There and Away
We’ll meet in Sorong, where you will fly in and out of Domine Eduard Osok Airport (SOQ), the main airport to access Raja Ampat.
There are no international flights into Sorong but many airlines there from Indonesia’s international airports – Jakarta, Makassar, Surabaya and Manado. Airport transfers to the boat each way are included. We recommend booking a return ticket to one of the above airports and then a separate return ticket to Sorong. We’ll be sending out a group flight option for those who would like to travel to and from Sorong together.
Travel With Us
On this trip, you’ll be traveling with me and Shannon Stevens as your hosts, yoga teachers, and ocean hype girls and Rayna O’Nan as your photographer!
Wait guys, you don’t know me so well?! I’m the founder of Wander Women Retreats and Alex in Wanderland as well as a PADI Divemaster, a PADI AmbassaDiver, and a Women Divers’ Hall of Fame Grant Recipient and Associate Member. I have worked in the dive industry as an underwater videographer, a writer for publications like Sport Diver and Scuba Diver magazines, and as the creator of Wander Women Retreats. I am also a RYT 200 Registered Yoga Teacher, an RYT 50 Aerial Yoga Teacher, a Buti Bands and Sculpt instructor, and a regular yoga practitioner for more than a decade — and I can’t wait to practice with you!
My girl Shannon Stevens began teaching yoga in 2017, and she has a vast amount of training and practice in several methods of yoga and healing including yin, restorative, flow, pranayama and meditation. Shannon and I met on Koh Tao in 2015 and have been traveling the globe together ever since!
Rayna is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, owner of Ocean Rays Photography and self-professed shark whisperer who has been working with sharks for nearly 10 years. Rayna has joined us in Key Largo, in the Maldives, and in her home of West Palm Beach! After becoming a scuba instructor in the Florida Keys, she picked up an underwater camera and fell in love, allowing her to travel the world taking photos of underwater life to inspire marine conservation. Rayna spends her days guiding others through their own shark experiences, along with using her marine biology background to educate her guests on the importance of sharks in our marine ecosystems. She can’t wait to capture your best angle amongst the beauty of Raja Ampat, above and below the surface.
The price is the same for each package, so once you book we’ll reach out to record your choice, get you into our trip Facebook group, and soon, hit you with an information-stuffed welcome packet!
Want more info now? Head to our sales page for the full FAQ — or hit me up and let’s schedule a call! I know this trip is a big investment and I’m happy to talk it out with ya. I’d love to discover Raja Ampat with you.
See you under the sea!