Not so much a luxury liveaboard as a “cruising resort”, Four Seasons Explorer, which has operated for many years between island-based hotels in the Maldives, has moved east to serve divers in the Micronesian republic of Palau, in the western Pacific Ocean.
Owned by Singapore-based HPL, the yacht is operating from Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike most diving liveaboards it offers guests the option to embark daily, with no minimum length of stay specified. Guests are met in Koror and transported to wherever Four Seasons Explorer happens to be anchored at the time.
The 39m, three-deck catamaran has 10 double cabins and a suite, its own PADI 5* dive-centre, restaurant, bar, lounge, library and spa, along with several dive-boats and tenders to ferry people to and from shore. The guests are encouraged to customise their stay, whether their priority is serious diving, cultural encounters or relaxation.
“Palau is truly one of the world’s last remaining frontiers, almost untouched by time and now preserved for generations to come, thanks to local and international efforts to protect this charming nation and its culture of omengull – respecting all and everything,” says regional VP and general manager Armando Kraenzlin, who previously oversaw Four Seasons Explorer on its expeditions in the Maldives.
Palau consists of more than 340 islands, only nine of which are inhabited, with 80% of its marine territory (193,000sq miles) declared protected. The location for the world’s first national shark sanctuary, the island nation and is said to host more than 1,400 species of fish, 500 species of healthy coral and numerous shipwrecks.
Famous dive-sites include Blue Corner, German Channel, Peleliu Wall, Chandelier Cave and Helmet Wreck, though Four Seasons Explorer can also offer access to “lesser-known gems”.
As well as scuba, the vessel offers guests land excursions and the chance to freedive, snorkel, kayak, paddleboard and fish.
Four Seasons launched a Hospitality Apprenticeship scheme in 2001 to employ young Maldivians, many of whom are still working on the boat following its transfer east, alongside the first intake of Palauan apprentice staff.
Inclusive rates cover on-board accommodation and three meals daily with refreshments; unlimited diving, water sports and island adventures; daily yoga and wellness experiences; and pop-up events from presentations by the boat’s resident marine biologist to beach barbecues featuring local musicians and dancers.
Rates for Four Seasons Explorer in Palau start from US $2,800 (c£2,225) per cabin per night, two sharing, including taxes. For more information and bookings visit the Four Seasons Explorer site.