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Raja Ampat to the Forgotten Islands

Experience a range of spectacular marine habitats on this 11-day exploration that begins in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and ends in the remote Forgotten Islands of the Banda Sea.

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Overview

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Enjoy the best of both Raja Ampat and the Banda Sea—start in Misool, Raja Ampat and transit on to the more remote Banda Sea. Both areas offer some of the most vibrant coral reefs in the world.
  • The Forgotten Islands of the Banda Sea are one of the most remote and exotic destinations in Indonesia.
  • Weather allowing, we will visit Pulau Manuk, or the island of the snakes, a smoking volcano in the middle of the Banda Sea where we may see both olive and banded sea snakes.

COVID-19 update (August 2020): This is a small group expedition (13 guests max), and the ship has adopted a range of procedures to help assure COVID safety while aboard. For information about flying safely during COVID-19, see our guide, and click here for general information about COVID-19 and Oceanic Society expeditions.


Join us for an 11-day snorkeling and diving focused expedition in the heart of the Coral Triangle aboard a boutique liveaboard with just 6 staterooms. Experience a range of spectacular marine habitats on this exploration that begins in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and ends in the Forgotten Islands of the Banda Sea, one of the more remote and exotic destinations in Indonesia. Our adventure begins as we explore the iconic fish- and coral-rich reefs around Misool in Raja Ampat, a haven for manta rays and sharks. From here we travel south through the Banda Sea on to the Forgotten Islands, a chain of beautiful, remote islands known as the Ring of Fire, known for incredibly rich and crystal-clear waters.

About Raja Ampat, Indonesia and Nearby Islands

Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago and the nearby island groups are the greatest tropical marine destinations on Earth. Since scientific studies began here in 2001 more than 1,400 fish species and 75 percent of the world’s coral species have been found including many that are new to science, earning it the nickname, “the species factory.” Every foray into the water reveals a wondrous world of staggering diversity, from coral reef ecosystems to blue water mangroves and deep-water habitats.

Oceanic Society has been bringing travelers to this special region since 2011. Encompassing over 40,000 km2 these largely uninhabited areas are best explored by ship, and we’ve planned six unique liveaboard experiences over the next three years to help you take advantage of our extensive local knowledge. Learn more about the ships we use and browse our upcoming expeditions on the pages that follow.

Trip Dates & Cost

2021: March 26 – April 5. From $7,200 per person + park fees.* Group limit 13.

* Price varies based on cabin selection. Trip prices do not include airfare. Limited single supplements are available for a fee of $2,100. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Dalton Ambat is based in Bali and has helped guide Oceanic Society's Indonesia snorkel programs for the last 8 years. He is an experienced snorkel guide and a PADI certified master scuba dive trainer who has logged more than 10,000 dives and trained more than 1,000 students. Dalton has worked across the entire coral triangle region and is an expert naturalist with a keen eye for the macro critters. In 2016 he also participated in our marine debris sampling survey cruise from Bali to Komodo.

Steve Trott is a marine zoologist and the projects development manager at Watamu Marine Association in Kenya, an organization that promotes sustainable tourism, community based waste management, and marine conservation. Steve’s current focus is on finding innovative solutions to the growing marine debris problem while providing financial benefit to coastal communities in Africa.

Wayne Sentman is our director of conservation travel programs and an Oceanic Society naturalist since 1998. He is an experienced guide with a diverse background in marine mammal, seabird, and marine debris research. Wayne also co-teaches undergraduate field programs in Kenya on human-wildlife conflict and on the use of social media and art to raise public participation in conservation. He recently received a Master's in Environmental Management from Harvard University.

Itinerary

Note: Our customized itinerary will focus on the best snorkeling locations that Raja Ampat has to offer. Highlights include great soft coral walls, abundant schools of fish, and productive reef ecosystems that are "snorkel" accessible and perfectly suited to our group. The captain may change the site sequence or selection due to water visibility, currents, and weather.

Day 1: Arrive into Sorong
Guests will arrive in Sorong and have time to get comfortable on the boat. Damai will travel west towards Misool. If time allows we may get in the water in the afternoon.

Day 2: Farondi / Balbulol
No Contest and Love Potion No.9 near the island of Balbulol are a string of underwater ridges rich in current and therefore colorful soft corals and sea fans. Spend your time looking in the blue for schooling pelagics and often the beautiful Mobula Rays. To the east is the island of Farondi. Nearby in the channel are the current rich pinnacles of the Three Sisters. This area is teeming with life and there is a good chance of seeing a lot of fish action.

Day 3: Wayilbatan
The Four Kings is a series of colorful underwater pinnacles which make an amazing dive with plenty of cool fish action. Moving later to a more sheltered spot we are in the vicinity of some great snorkel spots: drift along the channel at Neptune Fan Sea; and explore the shallow coral reefs nearby.

Day 4: Boo & Fiabacet
This amazing string of small islands has a colorful array of great sites. The signature sites in the area include Boo Windows, Nudi Rock, Tank Rock and Whale Rock. The whole place is a delight for the eyes. On a calm day we can visit the amazing seamount Magic Mountain and experience cruising sharks, schooling fish and mantas cleaning. A truly spectacular location!

Day 5: East side of Seram
At the eastern end of Seram there are a series of islands offering some wonderful fish rich reefs and an opportunity to look into the deeper waters for pelagic species; giant trevally and large tunas may come in to feed, schools of snapper and barracuda hang off the drop off. With many vibrant coral heads in the shallows to explore. From here we will move towards the center of the Spice Island trade: Banda

Day 6: Bui
Just north of Kei we have the long line of Watubela islands with some great snorkeling sites. We will also pass by two extensive seamounts, Ultima Frontera and Gunung Laut, and may jump in here to explore with schools of fish, excellent hard coral coverage, huge sponges, black spotted morays and more passing pelagics.

Day 7: Pulau Manuk
The island of the snakes is a smoking volcano in the middle of the Banda Sea. There is the opportunity to see both Olive Sea Snakes and the more common banded sea krait. There are also a couple of mobula ray cleaning stations nestled in the black sand shallows and always the possibility of cruising sharks.

Day 8: Nils Desperandum
The best place in Indonesia to have a chance to spot schooling of Hammerheads. An atoll with walls all around it, that are teeming with life, schooling fish, large barrel sponges and fans.

Day 9: Dai
Tertuti Wall is a beautiful wall carpeted in vibrant orange and yellow soft corals and huge sea fans. There are schools of butterflyfish and anthias hanging just off the wall and larger schools further out.

Day 10: Dawera
Some of the healthiest and most diverse coral reefs. Abundant life can be found, schools of bigeye trevally, fusiliers, enormous Napoleon wrasse, patrolling Dogtooth Tuna and another possibility of sharks. A perfect way to finish out the trip relaxing here to enjoy the beautiful reef and amazing fish life.

Day 11: Departure
Guests will be escorted to the airport in Saumlaki and assisted with check-in procedures, no doubt full of talk about having just explored one of the wonderful tropical reef destinations in the world.

Accommodations

© Pete OxfordOur expedition takes place aboard the Damai II, a boutique Indonesian liveaboard that was custom-built for snorkeling and diving throughout the Coral Triangle. With an overall length of 40 meters (130 feet) and a beam of over 8 meters (26 feet) the vessel has 7 staterooms with a choice of single cabins, twins, doubles or two spacious master cabins. With sizes ranging from 18sq. meters for the single cabin to +40sq. meters for the master cabins, all are furnished with either queen or king sized beds, ensuite toilets and showers. The vessel has been designed with three large deck areas for relaxing in both the sun or shade and for enjoying relaxing massage and spa treatments.

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