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Indonesia: Halmahera to Sulawesi

Snorkel the shallow reefs around the island of Halmahera, exploring volcanoes, sandy islands and mangroves along the way to Sulawesi.

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Overview

This is a unique and rarely offered itinerary in the biogeographic region of Wallacea, from the “Spice Island” of Halmahera to Sulawesi. Adjacent to Raja Ampat, Indonesia but with much fewer visitors, Halmahera offers some of the best hard coral gardens in all of Indonesia. In Sulawesi we will encounter unique macro critters and visit the Tangkoko Nature Reserve, a haven for endemic species.

Coral reefs in this region are largely unexplored by snorkelers, and on this unique liveaboard expedition you will have the chance to be among the first travelers to identify new reef areas. Our snorkeling-focused itinerary will have you in the water 4-5 hours per day as we explore this area's pristine reefs, teeming with large schools of fish.

Above the water, the islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera are also home to unique terrestrial biodiversity. Throughout this expedition we hope to see parrots, hornbills, birds of paradise, and unique mammals of the Tangkoko Forest Reserve.

Weather permitting, we will also stop at the Togean Islands and visit the Red Jellyfish Lake.

Trip Dates & Cost

2022: April 21 - May 3. From $8,350/person + park fees.* Group limit 13.

* 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

Pete Oxford works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.

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.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Ternate on Halmahera and board the Damai 2, your home for the next 12 nights

Days 2-5: Explore the shallow coral reefs of Halmahera visiting multiple sites each day. When possible, we'll have early morning opportunities to look for endemic birds. We expect to see schools of sweetlips, barracuda, fusiliers, and curious reef sharks. Schools of bumphead parrotfish and both green and hawksbill turtles are also regular residents of these snorkel sites.

Day 6: Begin transit on to Sulawesi. If weather and time allow, we will visit the Togean Islands and, if possible, visit the Red Jellyfish Lake.

Days 7-9: We will work our way along northern Sulawesi, snorkeling a variety of shallow water sites with great diversity and abundant soft and hard coral gardens. This is a great area to look for a variety of macro critters and our guides will be able to assist in spotting a variety of colorful nudibranchs along the way.

Days 10-11: We will arrange for a 1/2 day tour of the Tangkoko Nature Reserve, home to many endemic kingfishers and other interesting and colorful birds like pittas and hornbills. We also hope to see the amazing tarsier and black-crested macaques. If able, we will also head over to Bunaken Marine Park for some more snorkeling in crystal clear waters.

Day 12: Today we head back to Gorontalo, enjoying our final snorkels and continuing on to our final night's harbor.

Day 13: Disembark in the AM for your flight onward or back home.

Note: Extensions to Borneo, other parts of Sulawesi, and Misool Eco Resort (Raja Ampat) are possible.

Accommodations

Our 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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