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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/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 viewpoints

– visits to secluded perfect beaches

– excursions to traditional villages

– whale watching

– water activities such as wakeboarding and kayak

Based upon that, here is a potential itinerary for an 11 nights /12 days cruise from Ambon (Maluku) back to Sorong (West Papua). 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 by plane to Ambon. You will be picked up by crew members at the airport.
Embarkation in the port of Ambon. A general orientation follows.

Day 2: Ambon

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 3: Nusa Laut

In the early morning, we will arrive at the island of Nusa Laut, which is a great example of how active conservation by the local community can not only preserve the reefs but actually make them even better. We see here for many years a proper growth in biomass. We have four spectacular dive sites here, either wall or slope diving. Great variety of reef fish as well as large schools of jacks. Bumphead Parrotfish like to pass by here also. A lot of macro life can be found in the wall as well.

Day 4 & 5: Banda Islands

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 raise up 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’.

Day 6: Koon & Madorang

At the south-eastern tip of Seram, there is a little island named Koon. It’s basically three dive sites in one, performing best always at one spot, depending on the current. The name of the site says it all: ‘Too Many Fish’. You will have a hard time focusing on what to look at. A fish soup of Fusiliers and Surgeonfish is divided by hunting Giant Trevallies and Jacks, enormous Giant Groupers are all of a sudden looking at you whilst a school of hundreds of Batfish is passing by. Mobula and Manta rays might fly by. Leopard Sharks like to relax in overhangs of the wall on the north side. Macro life is plenty as well. Hairy Shrimp, Pygmy Seahorses, Tiny Frogfish, Robust Ghostpipefish. This dive site literally has it all. After two dives in before lunch, we will head north towards Raja Ampat whilst on the way, we will do a wall dive along the pretty walls of Madorang.

Day 7: Misool

Coming into Raja Ampat from the south, we start our diving here around the islands of SE Misool. The first dive site we reach is called ‘Magic Mountain’. Yes. It is magic. Situated in a ‘No-Take-Zone’, which was ten years ago established by our friends of the Misool Eco Resort, the amount of biomass is just off the scale. Blacktip, Whitetip, and Grey Reef Sharks. Napoleon Wrasses. Stonefish. Wobbegong Sharks. Barracudas. Not to forget about the Mantas who come in to get cleaned. You will have a hard time focussing on a particular scene on this reef. It’s happening everywhere. Magic!

We will offer two more day dives around the eastern part of the island of Boo. One of the signature dive sites of this area is ‘Boo Windows’ – a spectacular swim through gave the dive site it’s fame, the marine life surrounding it will keep us busy watching during the whole dive. Another great dive site in this area is ‘Hidung Boo’ where you might see the biggest sea fans you’ve ever seen in your life.

Day 8: Misool – Fiabatjet

Right in the heart of the No-Take-Zone. ‘Tank Rock’, ‘Nudi Rock’ & ‘Whale Rock’ are the famous and commonly dived sites here. There are five more dive sites in the very proximity which are as good, if not even better. We prefer to go a bit off the beaten track here. The reefs are covered in soft coral in all colours you can imagine. Surrounded by the most colourful reef fish. More Fusiliers than one could possibly count. Jacks, Trevallies, Barracudas, Sharks.

And if you happen to dive here on a day with bad visibility. Just face the reef. It’s packed with macro life. Several species of Pygmy Seahorses, Nudibranchs, tiny Crustaceans – every niche in these reefs are filled with life.

Day 9: Misool – Farondi

This is a very exciting part of SE Misool. A lot of life and colors. Combined with a very special topography. Caverns, caves, swim throughs. And if you happen to hit this area at the right time (which changes every season) you will find yourself amidst a bloom of small silvery fish, Silversides, and the hunters are just nearby: Mobula Rays. In the dozens. There are four popular dive sites here. We’ve got another six spots that are hardly ever dived. A nice big variety to pick and choose from.

Day 10: Dampier Strait

The dive- and snorkel sites in the Dampier Strait stand for action-packed dives in our favorite kind of fish soup – the one that is still alive and surrounds us in the water. Encounters with Manta Rays are very common here. The reef of the island of Kri is the current world record holder with the highest number of fish species ever counted by a scientist in a single dive – Dr. Gerry Allen came up with 374 different fish species counted. Again: in one single dive.

Dive sites here are exposed to current so it’s all about the right timing to get the most out of it. And we know how to time it here. Popular dive sites here: ‘Kap Kri’, ‘Chicken’, ‘Sardine’, ‘Mike’s Point’ and ‘Blu Majik’.

Day 11: Dampier

Towards the end of the week and the end of the cruise for some other liveaboards, it can get a bit busy here. We don’t like that and therefore move away to some sites less dived yet very attractive. A WW2 plane wreck. ‘Larry’s Promise’. Wruzwarez Slope. There are many possibilities. And to conclude our in-water activities we aim to snorkel with feeding Mantas. On our way back our crew will keep an eye out onto the ocean for you and alert you for whale and dolphin encounters. They are quite common here.

Day 12: Disembarkation in Sorong

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 combination of Macro Life and action packed current dives combined with a cultural experience make this itinerary very unique.The chances to have close encounters with whales (Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and others) are very good whilst cruising the Banda Sea.

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Banda Sea & Raja Ampat

From: $6700 /pp
October 21, 2024
November 1, 2024

Banda Sea & Raja Ampat