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Raja Ampat and Spice Islands Cruise

A 13-day cruise from Darwin, Australia to West Papua, Indonesia (or reverse) through the colorful Spice Islands featuring coral reefs, whale sharks, Birds of Paradise, rainforest exploration, and visits with unique cultural groups.

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Overview

  • Five-day snorkel or dive exploration of Raja Ampat, the epicenter of tropical marine biodiversity and home to colorful Birds of Paradise.
  • Possibility to snorkel with whale sharks in Cenderwasih Bay.
  • Visits with many unique cultural groups throughout the trip, including stops in the Maluku Islands from which nutmeg and mace originate.

An epic adventure from Darwin, Australia to West Papua, Indonesia (or vice versa), this 13-day cruise provides ample time to explore the region's unmatched marine life, to visit beautiful islands, and to meet a staggering diversity of indigenous cultures.

The highlight of our expedition aboard the Oceanic Discoverer is a five-day tour through Raja Ampat, an archipelago of more than 1,500 islands, cayes, and shoals that harbors the greatest diversity of marine life on Earth. Here you will have the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dazzling reefs and to search for whale sharks in Cenderwasih Bay, a marine park home to one of the largest congregations of whale sharks.

We also visit traditional villages, meet local artisans, tour spice markets, and enjoy guided rainforest hikes in search of Birds of Paradise and other endemic tropical wildlife. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Trip Dates & Cost

This expedition is available on select dates in October 2015. Contact us to inquire. From $10,800 per person.*

* Trip price does not include international airfare.

Photos
Naturalist

Itinerary

The October 1-13, 2015 departure will begin in Darwin, Australia and end in Biak, Indonesia. The October 13-25 departure will begin in Biak, Indonesia and end in Darwin, Australia.

Day 1: Biak, Indonesia
Arrive in Biak and board the Oceanic Discoverer. A charter flight from Darwin, Australia to Biak is available for $750.

Day 2: Cenderwasih Bay
Explore protected Cenderwasih Bay in search of whale sharks. Here we may have the opportunity to swim, snorkel, or scuba with these magnificent, gentle creatures. We will also be on the lookout for some of the rarer marine species that have been found here, including blue whales, dugongs, and leatherback turtles. Of course you will also have time to snorkel the magnificent reef, which harbors more than 200 species of fish and covers 80 sq. km.

Day 3: Manokwari and Mansinan Island
Travel ashore to the island of Manokwari, home to 24 distinct cultural groups, and visit a traditional village where local artisans are well-known for their beautiful wood carvings. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive over the World War II wrecks in the shallow waters just offshore, or view them from a glass bottom boat.

Day 4: Amsterdam Islands
The Amsterdam Islands are home to a nesting population of leatherback turtles, the largest turtles on Earth, and we may have the opportunity to observe them nesting, or to see their hatchlings emerging from the sand. We will also visit the "junkyard" of World War II wrecks that litter the coastline and have come to form new marine habitat for corals, sea fans, fish and more. You will have the opportunity to snorkel, scuba, or view the wrecks from a glass bottom boat.

Day 5: Wayag Island and Raja Ampat
Our visit to Wayag Island begins with an early morning hike up Pindito Peak, which provides breathtaking views of the island and its turquoise lagoon scattered with small forest-covered islands of limestone karst. We will spend the day exploring these islands and beaches, which are home to colorful orchids, pitcher plants, and bird life.

Day 6: The Dampier Straits and Raja Ampat
In the morning we arrive in the Dampier Straits, where we travel ashore to Pulau Gam. A local Papuan giude will lead us on a walk through the forest in search of the incredible Red Bird of Paradise. In the afternoon we will continue to explore Raja Ampat's marine life, and may have the opportunity to swim with manta rays near Arborek Island.

Day 7: Misool Islands
The Misool Islands are considered to offer some of the best snorkeling and diving in Raja Ampat, with crystal clear waters and dramatic scenery. Here we will snorkel or scuba dive, and travel ashore for a guided nature walk.

Day 8: Pulau Gorong
At Pulau Gorong we will explore a saltwater lagoon with options to snorkel, scuba, or take a glass bottom boat tour. The island is also home to a diverse array of native bird species.

Day 9: Banda and Spice Islands
The so-called Spice Islands are the world's original source of nutmeg and mace that fueled the spice trade and have attracted traders for more than 2,000 years. We will immerse ourselves in the colors and aromas of these islands in the town of Banda Neira, with remnants of Dutch colonial mansions, a fascinating museum, an old church, and Fort Belgica. Here we will also enjoy a visit the town's nutmeg gardens.

Day 10: Kei Islands
Today we cruise and explore the many small islands between Pulau Kaimeer and Pulau Kur, considered to have the best beaches in the Indonesian Archipelago. Here we have the opportunity for more snorkelling and diving. As we pass through the islands, keep an eye out for the ancient petroglyphs that adorn the towering cliffs. Painted in ochre, black and white, the drawings depict historic sailing boats and intricately decorated locals wearing tall headdresses.

Day 11: Tanimbar Islands
In the morning we arrive to Saumlaki, the main town in the Tanimbar Islands and our last Indonesian landfall. The islands are surrounded by pristine white sand beaches fringed with palm trees. The villagers of the Tanimbars are master carvers and their magnificent queen ebony wood carvings are considered to be the finest in the entire Indonesian archipelago. View the community's traditional ritual ceremony and learn how head hunting was practiced here until well into the 20th century.

Day 12: At Sea
Spend the day at leisure aboard the ship as we cross the Timor Sea heading to Darwin.

Day 13: Arrive Darwin, Disembark
At 8:00 am we arrive at Darwin's Fort Hill wharf and disembark.

Accommodations

Our ship for this expedition is the state-of-the-art Oceanic Discoverer, a 206 foot (63 meter) Australian ship that accommodates a maximum of 72 guests in 36 spacious, modern staterooms. The modern ship features a large sun deck and spa pool, a lecture lounge with large plasma screens, a comprehensive reference library, wireless internet, two cocktail bars, and more amenities that add to the comfort of your experience.

Spacious staterooms are available in five categories, each with complete en suite facilities, individually controlled air-conditioning, and ample cupboard space. The ship is equipped with a fleet of inflatable Zodiacs and a custom designed excursion vessel.

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