Day 1: Meeting at the airport, transfer to the boat, Cabin arrangement, briefing
Day 2-11: Approx 3 dives per day at Banda, Koon, Raja Ampat South dive sites.
Day 12: Check out. Transfer to the airport/hotel.
Diving in the Banda Sea offers some of the most unique diving adventures to be found in Indonesia. Once sought by Columbus and Marco Polo, the Banda Islands were the original Spice Islands and the most coveted destination on earth, particularly by the Dutch and Portuguese, who colonized the islands and exported the indigenous nutmeg and cloves. History tells of a violent past under colonial rule.
Now, the seas around these tropical paradise islands are coveted for their spectacular diving and snorkeling on some of the world’s richest reefs, unspoiled corals, and large pelagic fish. Steep drop-offs, impressive hard coral, and some fast currents make this area absolutely breathtaking. Schools of jacks are a familiar sight, as are large tuna, many turtles, Napoleon wrasse, groupers, rays, sharks, large lobsters, and sea snakes. There are also special critter sites for the macro enthusiast including the chance to dive with unusual critters at sites around Ambon Bay. Along the crossing, it is possible to revel in the spectacle of thousands of seabirds, including the comical yet attractive frigate birds and boobies.
Enjoy a land excursion that covers the historical Banda Neira and surrounding islands. Visit the local museum and enjoy the artwork and many antiquities from the Portuguese and Dutch. Learn about the land trade of the island of Run and Manhattan between the Dutch and the British. 150 steps or so up a hill and you will be intrigued by the old fort building design. Next, we head to the nutmeg and spice farm. Enjoy Tante’s homemade cinnamon tea accompanied by her secret recipe snacks and nutmeg jam. Fresh nutmeg jam, nutmeg, and yours-to-order cinnamon sticks are for sale. On your walk back to the pier, visit the old Dutch governor’s mansion “House of VOC”, which was recently converted to a hotel. Original masterpieces including the 6 old tiles were restored and kept in their original location within the property.
Raja Ampat is located within the Indonesian archipelago off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua (Irian Jaya). Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, the area is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life. Raja Ampat translated directly as “four kings” was named for the 4 main islands in the area – Weigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool.
Diving Raja Ampat will take your breath away with the marine life thriving from the seafloor to the surface and the colorful reef teeming with activity. There are sites that are so pristine and packed with growth, that a photographer is hard-pressed to find a spot to place a steadying finger. Exotic sea life and macro critters will overwhelm any macro photography enthusiast. The only problem with diving here is that you’ll be so spoiled by the near-perfect conditions that you may never want to leave or dive anywhere else again!
In the south of Raja Ampat is the island of Misool. Be wow-ed by the profusion of colorful soft corals and sea fans beautifully draping the reefs. Expect to encounter both the oceanic and reef mantas. Towards the western tip of Misool, be intrigued by one of the world’s most stunning mangroves.