No cruise on MV Samambaia is like the other. Every single trip is tailor-made to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The decision on the itinerary is made by the cruise director as we cruise along and is based on factors such as weather conditions, dive conditions, requests of guests, and schedules of other liveaboards, which we try to stay away from.
There are however certain constants on every cruise which are:
- Three day-dives of minimum 1 hour duration
- One sunset- or night dive (unless we have to cover a serious amount of miles overnight) – Activities during the surface intervals such as:
- scenic rides through lagoons and coves in our tenders – trekking to breathtaking view points
- visits of secluded perfect beaches – excursions to traditional villages
- whale watching
- water activities such as wakeboarding and water skiing
Based upon that, here is a potential itinerary for an 11 nights / 12 days cruise from Ambon (Maluku) back to Maumere (Flores). This is just to give you a general idea and is subject to change due to weather- and other conditions. Popular dive sites are named. We do however have our secret spots as well, which you will learn about during the cruise.
Day 1: Embarkation. Arrival with a plane to Ambon. You will be picked up by crew members at the airport. After an initial general dive briefing, we will do our check dive with you at an easy and protected dive site. Check dive in the sense of you checking your gear and weights, making sure the camera housings are properly sealed and our guides checking your buoyancy. No skill demonstrations are required. We will thereafter offer two more dives in the bay of Ambon.
One in the afternoon and one for sunset. All of these days will be muck dives. World-class critter hunting. That’s what Ambon is famous for. Rhinopias, Frogfish, Ghostpipefish, Harlequin Shrimps and if you are really lucky: the Psychedelic frogfish that has been very recently found here again.
Day 2: Suanggi. A beautiful small island in the middle of Banda Sea reached by liveaboard only. Is an oasis for birds and fish. We dive between the pristine hard coral reef full of pelagics, huge school of barracuda or tuna, fusiliers and bannerfish etc…. We meet hammerhead sharks too in this spot in the past.
Day 3: Around Banda Island. The famous Spice Islands, the island group around Banda Neira, is also historically very interesting. Wars were fought over these islands by colonial powers as these islands used to be the only islands in the world where nutmeg grew. A historical walk through the town of Banda Neira with its museum and two forts is a must. An interesting option for ambitious challenge seekers is to climb the volcano Gunung Api, which raises ‘only’ 600 m above sea level. Which in the tropics is a strenuous climb. The diving here is very diverse and spectacular. As these volcanic islands rise to the surface surrounded by deep seawater, the chances for sightings of large pelagics are very good. In the past we’ve often encountered schooling hammerheads here. A dive site called ‘Lava Flow’ is one of the most pristine hard coral reefs you will ever see. After the last eruption of Gunung Api in 1988 a flow of lava made its way down into the ocean and destroyed the whole reef. What has grown back ever since will boggle your mind.
In the harbour of Banda Neira we’ve got a beautiful Mandarin Fish dive waiting for you. Other highlights include: ‘The Cathedral’, ‘Batu Kapal’ and ‘Karang Hatta’. And on top of all we will take you on potential Hammerhead Shark dives at Pulau Run.
Day 4: Gili Manuk. This place is also known by the name ‘Snake Island’. If you’ve got a phobia of snakes you should definitely go diving here to face your fear and thereby cure it. You may encounter dozens of sea snakes in one single dive. These graceful creatures, though highly venomous, are very peaceful, sometimes even curious. Despite these reptiles there is plenty of reef fish but also pelagics around. On top of all thousands and thousands of seabirds are nesting here. A very unique and spectacular place. Our favourite dive site is called: ‘Smoking Hot’.
Days 5: Nil Desperandum – Serua. An atoll with steep walls rising from the deep. Weather conditions permitting we will spend a whole day here. Mainly steep walls all around and some sloppy parts. Very nice growth of fans and sponges. But we are in for the big pelagic stuff. Schooling sharks have been often seen here in the past.
Day 6: Pulau Nila – Karang Doisburg. Five miles from the small island of Nila we find an atoll and even prettier coral growths along the walls. Again the focus lies here on large pelagic fish passing by out in the blue. The close-by island of Nila offers us protection for the night’s anchorage and gives us the possibility for a night dive. We may also choose to visit the local village, located at the foot of an active volcano where people live exclusively out of the harvest of cloves. This secluded spot is hardly ever visited by outsiders (on average once every six months), and is a rare treat for those who want the know the true hidden nature of Indonesia.
Day 7: Romang – Niata. Gentle slopes offer some beautiful and relaxed diving around the island group of Romang. Huge Gorgonians in various colours and big barrel sponges all around. Besides many reef fish, you may see some reef sharks or tuna passing by. Around Niata island, the dive is caracterized by a nice wall and overhangs. As we have got a long crossing ahead over night, there will be three day dives only.
Day 8: Reong. Our last stop before heading out into the Banda Sea will be Reong, a small island just off the coast of Wetar. Very fishy wall diving with small caverns and overhangs in which nurse sharks like to chill out during the day. In the shallows we find hard coral heaven that will delight every snorkeler.
Day 9: Beangabang – Alor. A protected bay which is said to have a better macro life than the famous Lembeh Strait. Be prepared for some cold water upwellings which will not stop you from having extended bottom times if you are a critter lover. After, we will move to Alor and it is time for some action-packed current drift dives with potential for big stuff. All our dives are going to be either slope or wall dives. We have spotted here in the past: Oceanic Sunfish, BigDogtooth Tuna and Thresher Sharks. Popular dive sites here: School’s Out, Anemone City, The Great Wall of Pantar. Day 10: Pulau Rusa – Pulau Kambing. Slopy area with bommies. Very fishy because of strong current in this area, maybe some sunfish on snorkeling if we are lucky. Another secret spot not many divers got this place. Unforgettable.
Day 11: Serbete & Adonara. After an initial general dive briefing, check dive in the morning at a pretty, easygoing and protected dive site. A wall south of the tiny island of Serbete. We will offer two more macro focussed dives this day.
Day 12: Disembarkation in Maumere. Depending on your flight schedule, our crew will check your luggage in for you in advance so you can rest on board and let us shuttle you to the airport when your plane is ready to leave.
Critter Life: Rhinopias, Ghostpipefish, Pipefish, Pipehorses, Seahorses, Pygmy Seahorses, all sorts of Crustaceans, many different species of Cephalopods, Frogfish, Nudibranchs, Pegasus, Ambon Scorpionfish
Big Stuff: Sharks, Tunas, Jacks, Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Napoleon Wrasses and surprises
The chances to have close encounters with whales (Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and others) are very good whilst cruising the Banda Sea.