Banda Sea to Raja Ampat Dive Liveaboard Voyages


Our unforgettable Banda Sea to Raja Ampat liveaboard voyages will take you to some of the finest tropical reef diving in the world.

Travelling through the heart of the coral triangle, you can experience an almost incomparable journey of diversity of coral reef and fish species. The rich waters around Raja Ampat are home to over 600 species of hard coral - 75% of the worlds total known species - and over 1,700 species of coral reef fish, many of which are endemic to the region. At the other end of your voyage through the remote Banda Sea is Maumere Bay, which was once considered to be one most diverse spots on earth. Having suffered damage from the combined effects of the earthquake and tsunami of 1992, the space cleared by these natural phenomena has allowed new corals to flourish and bring an even greater diversity to the area, which is well on its way to a full recovery.

The sheer amount of marine life to be found here is staggering: like a bamboozled tuna or other pelagic predator, there will sometimes simply be too many types of fish in swirling schools to be able to lock your eyes onto any one thing. This area is known for harbouring strange and fascinating creatures rarely found elsewhere, from the tiny 2cm pygmy seahorse to the recently discovered 'walking' Epaulette shark to the wobbegong or carpet shark, an ambush predator who remains perfectly still, camouflaged by the reef, enticing their prey with their front whisker lobes. From the tiniest critters to manta rays and sharks, we can never guarantee what you will see underwater, but we can say that it will stretch to the limit your ability to reference everything against a fish, coral or critter guide book.

Sailing from the Sunda Islands through the many remote islands and offshore reefs of the Banda Sea to Raja Ampat in the northwest of Indonesian-claimed Papua, you can experience the stunning scenery that characterises this area - mountain chains, volcanoes, tiny limestone 'mushroom' islands rising from turquoise lagoons, powder-white beaches and lush vegetation covered islands. Throughout the voyage you will have the opportunity to visit some of the isolated fishing communities and villages dotted throughout the archipelago. As you sail through these rich waters be sure to keep a sharp eye out for passing spinner dolphins, orcas and whales, including melonhead, pilot and maybe even a humpback whale.

The scenery and diversity to be found underwater is no less dramatic than that above water. Throughout the voyage you can experience vibrant colourful reef systems teeming with life, sheer walls covered with massive gorgonians, soft corals, barrel sponges, shallow reefs, overhangs and pinnacles that Raja Ampat has to offer.

Diving conditions

The visibility and exceptional health of the coral reef in the Banda Sea and Raja Ampat makes it the ideal location for underwater photography. The best diving takes place between 5 - 40m with visibility ranging from 10-30m plus. Current strength ranges from weak to moderate and is particularly strong during spring tides and in channels between close islands. Surface conditions are predominantly flat and calm with water temperatures ranging from 27 - 30°C. Raja Ampat is ideal for intermediate and advanced level divers who have some experience of currents and exercise good buoyancy control so that contact with corals can be avoided.

When to go

The best time to dive in the Banda Sea is between the months of March - April and September - December when the waters and currents are at their calmest with good underwater visibility.

Itinerary

Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Sailing Yacht: Option A

This 'schooner style' yacht carries just 12 guests in 6 air conditioned, en-suite cabins. She is comfortably furnished with an air conditioned lounge and the teak upper decks are equipped with sunbeds and dining area. All diving is done from two large RIBs. She will travel using a combination of both motor and sails (weather permitting).

Day 1: Embark in Ambon / Waisai

You will embark in Ambon this afternoon

*Some departures embark in Waisai and disembark in Ambon: contact us for details

Days 2 - 11: Diving in the Banda Sea & Southern Raja Ampat

You will first explore some of the best dive sites in the Banda Sea before rounding the east coast of Seram to the south and central area of Raja Ampat.

You will also spend some time exploring the Banda Islands, with a visit to a nutmeg plantation, historic forts and a local maritime museum.

Dive sites can include: Batu Kapal Pinnacle, Lava Flow, Boo Windows, Nudi Rock, Cape Kri, Blue Magic and Manta Sandy

Day 12: Disembark in Sorong / Ambon

You will disembark this morning for your onward travel arrangements

Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Motor Yacht: Option A

This luxurious liveaboard carries just 15 guests in comfortable cabins. A purpose built dive deck provides a wide platform, two exit ladders and fresh water showers. Onboard you will find the restaurant which has large windows, saloon with extensive library, a shaded outdoor seating area and sundeck with cushioned sun beds.

Sample 12 Day Itinerary for Motor Yacht Options A & B

Day 1: Embark in Sorong

You will embark in Sorong this afternoon

Days 2 - 4: Dampier Strait

Explore the Dampier Strait, the strait between the islands of Waigeo and Batanta Island. This area is known for the variety of dives it offers, from giant mantas, mangroves, pinnacles and seamounts covered in schooling fish. You will also have the chance to traditional Papuan villages.

Days 5 - 6: Misool Island

Explore some of the hundreds of dive sites found here! Enjoy some of the prettiest coral reefs in the world with plenty of schooling fish. Above water, enjoy the stunning island scenery.

Day 7: Ceram

Palau Koon is a small island southeast of Ceram, halfway between Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands. Expect coral covered walls and huge amounts of schooling fish here.

Day 8: Manuk

Manuk is an extinct volanco south of the Banda Islands and is known for huge aggregations of sea snakes!

Days 9 & 10: Banda Islands

Enjoy wall dives with massive gorgonians, soft corals and swimthroughs; pinnacles with schooling fish and pelagics; and great muck dives.

You will also have the opportunity to explore on land, with visits to the old Dutch fort, colonial governor's house and local villages.

Day 11: Nusa Laut or Ambon Bay

Enjoy your last dives at Nusa Laut, an island near Saparua with beautiful hard coral fringing reefs or in Ambon Bay, where you will find great caves and muck diving

Day 12: Disembark in Ambon

Disembark in Ambon this morning for your onward travel arrangements

Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Motor Yacht: Option B

This comfortable liveaboard carries 16 guests in 9 cabins. Onboard you will find a wide stern dive platform with two exit ladders and fresh water showers, a huge dive deck with individual gear storage boxes and camera table. The spacious saloon is well equipped with large windows, a bar with tea and coffee facilities and entertainment area including a library with a wide selection of marine life books, there is also a separate dining area and two sundecks.

Sample Biodiversity Special Itinerary for Motor Yachts A & B

Day 1: Embark in Sorong

You will embark in Sorong this afternoon

Days 2 & 3: Dampier Strait

Explore the Dampier Strait, the strait between the islands of Waigeo and Batanta Island. This area is known for the variety of dives it offers, from giant mantas, mangroves, pinnacles and seamounts covered in schooling fish. You will also have the chance to traditional Papuan villages.

Days 4 & 5: Misool Island

Explore some of the hundreds of dive sites found here! Enjoy some of the prettiest coral reefs in the world with plenty of schooling fish. Above water, enjoy the stunning island scenery.

Day 6: Ceram

Palau Koon is a small island southeast of Ceram, halfway between Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands. Expect coral covered walls and huge amounts of schooling fish here.

Days 7 & 8: Banda Islands

Enjoy wall dives with massive gorgonians, soft corals and swimthroughs; pinnacles with schooling fish and pelagics; and great muck dives.

You will also have the opportunity to explore on land, with visits to the old Dutch fort, colonial governor's house and local villages.

Day 9: Manuk

Manuk is an extinct volcano south of the Banda Islands and is known for huge aggregations of sea snakes!

Day 10: Pulau Nila

Dive the sumberged Nil Desperandum reef, which consists mainly of walls and steep slopes with beautiful corals at the reef top. Then explore Dusborgh atoll with crystal clear waters and great chances to encounter pelagic fish

Day 11: Pulau Damar

The islands here are covered in tropical forest with white sand beaches, and have some of the healthiest reefs in the Banda Sea with great visibility.

Day 12: Gunung Api

This small volcano in the Banda Sea is rarely visited by divers, but frequented by huge amounts of sea snakes. Between dives, enjoy the antics of the hundreds of frigatebirds that live here.

Day 13: Wetar

Having reached the edge of the Banda Sea, you arrive at the island of Wetar. Enjoy wall dives with small soft corals, hard coral reefs and large aggregations of schooling fish.

Day 14: Alor

Enjoy the diversity of the sites here at Alor with their healthy reefs, pinnacles, walls, great muck dives, strong currents and protected areas.

Day 15: Lewaling Bay

You will make your final dives around Kawula Island, with a backdrop of a volcano rising from the western shores of Lawaling Bay. Here you can find ridges, walls with overhangs, sandy slopes and shallow reef tops.

Day 16: Disembark in Maumere

Disembark in Maumere this morning for your onward travel arrangements

Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Motor Yacht: Option C

This comfortable liveaboard carries 16 guests in 8 cabins. Onboard you will find a spacious, air conditioned salon and dining area, shaded sun deck with lounge and deck chairs, camera room and a tender and dive deck with fresh water showers.

Day 1: Embark in Sorong

You will embark in Sorong this afternoon

*Some departures run a reverse itinerary, embarking in Ambon and disembarking in Sorong: contact us for details

Days 2 - 9: Diving in the Banda Sea & Southern Raja Ampat

This trip combines the best dive sites of Banda Sea, and South Raja Ampat (Misool).

Highlights can include the amazing macro sites in Ambon Bay, large pelagics in Banda Islands, manta cleaning stations near Mansuar and the huge schools of fish near Farondi.

Diving in the endless maze of islands in Misool is very special; one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, it is a paradise for macro enthusiasts, home to large schools of sardines and other fish, and ou can also hope for pelagic encounters with manta rays.

Expect to make up to 33 dives on a 10 night itinerary.

Day 10: Disembark in Sorong

Disembark in Sorong this morning for your onward travel arrangements

Dates

05 - 20 Nov 2019 - from € 4,790

Biodiversity Special: Maumere - Alor - Banda Sea - Raja Ampat (15 nights)
Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Motor Yacht: Option A

24 Nov - 09 Dec 2019 - from € 4,490

Biodiversity Special: Maumere - Alor - Banda Sea - Raja Ampat (15 nights)
Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Motor Yacht: Option B

02 - 14 May 2020 - from £ 3,860

Waisai - Ambon (12 nights)
Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Sailing Yacht: Option A

29 Nov - 11 Dec 2020 - from £ 3,860

Ambon - Sorong (12 nights)
Raja Ampat & Banda Sea Sailing Yacht: Option A

Please refer to the 'Itinerary' section for vessel details

What is included:
- All meals and snacks onboard
- Tanks, weights, fills and guides
- Use of Nitrox on Motor Yachts A & B

What is not included:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Port and park fees
- Potential fuel surcharge (please contact us for details)
- Use of Nitrox on Sailing Yacht A & Motor Yacht C
- Crew gratuities
- International flights
- Travel insurance

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