Ambon & The Banda Islands
A lush mountainous paradise, picturesque Ambon is the gateway to the legendary Banda Islands or Spice Islands. History recalls when this small group of islands was the only place in the world growing a much-coveted treasure, nutmeg. This now-common spice was once worth more than its weight in gold, drawing European merchants to remote shores in search of wealth and status. Today, the Banda Islands are a marvelous mix of culture, history, and a beautiful underwater world. You’ll walk through an open market, the smell of nutmeg and clove wafting through the air, or visit the remnants of when the Dutch once controlled the islands. While the rich history of the islands is at the forefront, the island’s spectacular natural beauty is waiting to be discovered.
Day 2 & 3
We will spend the next two days exploring the Banda Islands, a small group of islands steeped in history, and breathtaking natural beauty. You’ll travel back in time as we sail routes once navigated by European traders. The island of Banda Neira is an open-air museum taking you back to the days of colonial rule. Its historic buildings, once-bustling from the spice trade, are now quiet and waiting to tell their story. We’ll visit Fort Belgica, an impressive stone structure that towers over the island and offering postcard-perfect views of Gunung Api. The neighboring island of Banda Besar, the largest island of the Bandas, was once home to nutmeg plantations, and some still exist to this day. Cool off in the water, as we dive or snorkel the healthy and colorful reefs that surround the islands. We will spend time exploring Palau Ai. Its deep waters and current are perfect for spotting larger marine life – Hammerheads, Silvertip, and Thresher sharks. The gently sloping reef of Batu Udang is an underwater delight, colorful small reef fish dart about the garden of corals. At the end of the day, we’ll return to the boat to enjoy a delicious meal and watch the sunset over an active volcano.
Today is yours to enjoy the small island of Koon, the perfect stopping point as we make our way to Misool. In 2011, the waters surrounding the island were closed, allowing time for the reef to regenerate and ensure a healthy underwater habitat will be around for generations to come. The waters are now a magnificent display of marine life, healthy, vibrant reefs filled with hard and soft corals, sponges, sea fans, and abundant small reef fish. A pristine white beach surrounds the island, perfect for relaxing and enjoying a delicious picnic lunch prepared by the crew.
Day 5,6 & 7
Awaken to a glorious sunrise over the waters of Raja Ampat. When you’re ready, join us on deck for a hearty breakfast and enjoy the scenery as the ship nears the island. We will spend the next three days exploring this beautiful playground. One of the large islands that make up ‘The Four Kings,’ Misool, is a treasure trove for adventurers while its natural beauty emanates tranquility.
Breathtaking beauty is found throughout as the small chain of islands carve-out hidden channels, coves, enchanting heart-shaped lagoons, and an array of secluded beaches. Its famed water holds one of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Given its rich marine life, Misool is home to world-renowned dive and snorkel sites – Kaleidoscope, Boo Rock, and Gamfi are just a few of remarkable sites that surround the islands. Travel back in time with a visit to Tomolol, where we’ll explore the mysterious Gua Sacral caves, a once burial site of the indigenous Papuans, and remnants of previous burials can be seen to this day. We’ll tender to limestone cliffs for views of ancient rock art, colorful reminders of a time long gone.
While Raja Ampat is best known for its abundant biodiverse marine life, its shores are equally impressive. While Raja Ampat is best known for its abundant biodiverse marine life, its hidden shores are equally impressive. Hidden amongst the tall limestone cliffs are powdery sand beaches that melt into light blue water, inviting us to step ashore and relax in the beauty and tranquility that is Misool.
Penemu & Fam
Today we’ll arrive at the beautiful Penemu Islands, a cluster of small limestone islands surrounded a myriad of blue water. After breakfast, we’ll hike up to the lookout for a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding islands and its secluded bay. Afterward, we will delve into the water to explore the fantastic dive and snorkel sites around the islands. From shallow reefs teeming with vibrant marine life to colorful coral-covered walls, the underwater world will not disappoint. Revel in the natural beauty as you kayak through the maze of towering limestone islands or tender to the deeper channels for a chance to see dolphins playing or perhaps whales as they migrate through the region.
The Passage, Waigeo
Today we’ll set out before dawn for an opportunity to spot the mystical Red Bird of Paradise. Accompanied by the cruise director, you will visit the island of Gam, where smiling villagers will greet you and accompany you to the lush jungle. After a short trek to the bird-watching platform, around 45 minutes, we’ll spend time in search of the elusive, exotic bird. Afterward, we will return to the boat for a well-deserved breakfast surrounded by the picturesque mushroom-shaped islands of Kabui Bay.
The bay marks the entrance to the narrow channel known for its strong currents that flow through at each tide. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, the channel provides a view of a spectacular saltwater river, blanketed with brilliant sea fans, sponges, and corals. Located on the edge of Gam, lie quiet waterways that take us to thick mangrove forests where we will tender through the inlets to explore the lively jungle. If we are lucky, we may spot the stingless jellyfish. They tend to stay close to the surface feeding on plankton, allowing us to have a once in a lifetime swim with the surreal creatures.
Day 10 & 11
Wayag Islands, North Raja Ampat
We’ll spend the next two days sailing through the magnificent Wayag Islands. A picture-perfect panorama dotted with small green islands rising from the water dotted with pristine white sands and breathtaking turquoise water. A playground for water enthusiasts, it is the perfect backdrop to discover the area at water level. You’ll have a chance to kayak hidden coves or tender to through the crystal clear waters to a secluded beach. Take to land to hike the famed island peak for an awe-inspiring view of the rock formations and its surrounding waters. The trek concludes at a white powdery beach where you’ll have a chance to sit back and enjoy a fantastic sunset as the crew prepares a fabulous meal on a deserted beach.
Kri, Dampier strait
Wake up to the sounds of nature and view a magnificent sunrise over the Kri peninsula. After breakfast, you’ll have time to explore the sights of Mioskin Bay, snorkel over the healthy reef, or paddle through the mangrove forest, exploring its life-sustaining eco-system. The Kri peninsula is a blissful underwater paradise of vibrant color, abundant marine life, and offers some the best underwater landscapes in Raja Ampat. Its water holds a treasure waiting to be explored, dive or snorkel Sardine Reef, Mike’s Point, and Cape Kri, where spectacular coral gardens are home to an array of reef fish, sharks, turtles, and manta rays. You’ll have a chance to stretch your legs as we head ashore to visit the town of Yenbekwan for a glimpse at island life.
Today we’ll sail the Dampier Strait. Named after William Dampier, the great explorer who sailed through the channel on his way to the Northwestern tip of Papua. The Dampier Strait’s tidal surges move a massive amount of seawater, creating a phenomenon where the currents flow parallel to the equator. These tidal surges carry with them abundant plankton, and what attracts hundreds of Mantas to Aroborek Island during certain times of the year. You’ll have time to dive or snorkel the shallow sandy bottom waiting for the graceful mantas to pass by in an awe-inspiring underwater ballet.
After lunch, we’ll head ashore to the island of Arborek. A traditional stop for boats, the warm people of Aroborek welcome visitors with open arms and pure Papuan warmth. This tiny island, surrounded by lush forest and tall palm trees, is home to under 200 residents. Relying on the ocean for sustenance, the Arborek make beautiful handicrafts out of sustainable materials; sea pandan leaves, wood, and bamboo. It will be a day to remember, and you’ll depart the island with lifelong memories of the Papuan spirit.
We bid a fond farewell to the remote islands as we depart to Sorong.
After a hearty breakfast, the crew will escort you to the harbor and continue onto the local airport for your return flight home.