Plying the Papuan seas Matu Jitu waterfall on Moyo Island, Indonesia © Aqua Expeditions When he launched his expedition yacht Aqua Blu in Eastern Indonesia in 2019, Francesco Galli Zugaro challenged the received wisdom that the way to do live-aboard life, whether in Komodo, Raja Ampat or the Banda islands, was on a traditional phinisi sailing ship. His 15-cabin, expedition-class, recently refurbished beauty has all the comforts you’d imagine, from sleek contemporary cabin design to outrageously good food. Plus its own PADI-certified dive masters, stabilisation technology for smooth open-ocean sailing (won’t find that on a phinisi), and ultra-fast, ultra-shallow tenders.
In November 2025 Aqua Blu will relocate temporarily to West Papua, as pristine a part of south-east Asia as you’ll find. A visit to a spice market in Indonesia © Aqua Expeditions Snorkelling off the Aqua Blu © Aqua Expeditions Two itineraries both departing from the tiny town of Kaimana will stop variously at Triton Bay, Kiti-Kiti (the protected waterfall that pours directly into the sea) and – most compellingly – Asmat, still the least-developed region in Indonesia, and home to the legendary tribe of the same name. Guests will visit communal houses and observe artisans; the Asmat are renowned for wood-carving and shell work. Galli Zugaro has built a sterling reputation for finding both unalloyed cultural experiences and untrammelled nature for his guests, from the Peruvian Amazon to the Mekong; we’re expecting no less here. aquaexpeditions.com, from $12,290 for seven nights