BEST OF BORNEO Tarakan-Tarakan 8 Days-7 Nights


8 Days/7 Nights Tarakan-Tarakan Cruise Itinerary

Our journey will start and end in Tarakan, located on Tarakan Island. It is one of the major cities in northern Borneo, close to the Malaysian  border from Sabah, Malaysia. Tarakan is well connected to Singapore via Balikpapan. Tarakan is also well connected to Bali and Jakarta via Balikpapan.

This 9 day, 8-Night cruise takes us between the islands and reefs rising up from the Makassar Strait. After leaving the coast of Borneo, the ocean floor becomes very deep, very soon. As we continue farther out, a number of incredible coral reefs and islands grow up to the surface from the depths. Nutrient rich currents bring up big fish from the deep into shallower waters, allowing us to see them pursuing reef fish in hope of catching a meal.

Each island has its own unique character. We can see entire schools of manta rays at Sangalaki that are drawn here to feed on plankton. As well as turtles, Derawan has elusive treasures to be found; here we search for hidden critters. Maratua hosts massive marvels, such as sharks, barracudas and more mantas! At Kakaban island, plunge into the saltwater lake full with non-stinging jellyfish in the middle of the island. Dive the incredible walls encircling the island of Kakaban. In the shallow waters encircling Samama, we scan for an abundance of macro critters, hiding in plain sight.

Day 1 Embarkation in Tarakan

Day 2 – Derawan (4 dives)

Part of the Coral triangle, Derawan Islands have one of Indonesia’s richest and diverse ocean life. Not just diversity of Cave dives, wreck dives, muck dives, drift dives, walls, plateaux. 

Old Pier

Gets its name, from you’ve guessed it; a pier! As we follow the coral slope down and work our way south and to the east along the shoreline, we can see an abundance of butterfly fish, angels, damselfish, anthias, wrasse, gobies, shrimp and nudis. Perhaps a turtle or two and the blue spotted stingrays and schooling fusiliers are for sure the highlight.

Shark Point

As we descend the coral lope that becomes a drop off. Amongst the crabs, turtles and morays, the big attraction here is the possibility of seeing some sharks along with the impressive sight of schooling jacks.

Blue Trigger Wall

This healthy coral reef slope and wall combination is home to schooling of fusiliers and blue triggerfish. As we go along this comfortable drift, what else is there to see? Batfish, gobies, blennies, shrimp, nudibranch, turtle and shark, all have a good chance to be seen here.

Tuturuga Point

This dive site, a mix of sand and coral is impressive both by day and by night. As well as the usual suspects in this area, it is special for being home to frogfish, leaf fish, scorpionfish, flathead, Blennies, dragonet, octopus and rays.

Day 3 – Kakaban (4 dives)

Kakaban is best known for its non-stinging jellyfish lake, located in the centre of the island, a short walk from the coast. Kakaban was likely uplifted during the Holocene and sea water was trapped turning the area and formed a landlocked marine lake. The water is now a mix of salt water and fresh water from the rain. The non-stinging jellyfish have lived in this lake for hundreds of years with no known predators. Around the coastline of Kakaban island we are offered a large variety of diving, including corals, large pelagic and caves.

Barracuda Point

This exhilarating drift dive takes us along a combination of slope and drop off. We can see abundance of butterfly fish, angels, damselfish, anthias, flatworm gobies and perhaps some sharks and the famous schooling barracuda.

Cabbage Point

This dive site gets its name from the generous amount of cabbage coral coating the seabed. Amongst scorpionfish, moray eels and batfish, we can marvel at schooling fusiliers that almost move almost as if they are one lifeform. We may also come across some blue spotted stingrays along the way.

The Corner

That’s right, it’s located on a corner of the island! As we drift around this mix of slope and steep drop-off along the north eastern coastline, we can see schooling fusiliers, blue spotted stingrays and some mean looking giant trevallies. What else? Butterfly, anthias, surgeon, scorpion, blennies, shrimp, nudis and turtles.

The Wall

Here we can hope to be mesmerized by a huge school of jacks.Leaffish, turtles, sharks, trevallies and tons of reef fish are all possible.

Land excursion: Danau Kakaban – Translates to ‘Kakaban Lake’. Using our tender boats to reach Kakban’s shore, we will take a short walk to the lake’s edge. Here we will snorkel and amongst four species of non-stinging jellyfish. They don’t sting because they have no predators within the lake. The topography is a mix of sand and vegetation with a maximum depth of just 23ft (7m). Here we can also see gobies, shrimp, crab, nudibranch and snakes.

Day 4 – Samana (4 dives)

About 15 min by boat from Sangalaki is another dive location, Samama, perfect for macro. We are likely to see pygmy seahorses and a lot of nudibranchs. The island has a large area of mangrove and the dive sites are all very shallow. Currents are very mild and so we can take some good, long dives. Sunlight filters onto the hard and soft corals illuminating them in a rainbow of color. Reef life is abundant with many schools of fish. Be on the lookout for blue ribbon eels at the edge of the reef. Minute pygmy seahorse can be found camouflaged in gorgonian seafans.

Days 5 – Maratua (4 dives)

Here we have the chance to see some thrilling big creatures. Some best dives include, “The Channel” and “Big Fish” which has whirling schools of barracuda, grey reef sharks, thresher sharks, masses of turtles and schooling eagle rays schooling.

The East Wall

The two pillars at this site are the remains of a Japanese watch tower after it has been bombed during the Second World War. Here we can find a huge variety of seafans and black corals. The dive starts with a gentle slope that becomes a sharp, almost vertical drop-off. The barrel drum coral here are massive in size. This dive site is also called ‘Eagle-Ray Point’, because eagle-rays are often spotted here.

The Channel

Diving at beginning high tide when the current is flowing into the lagoon. With a considerable current, we can hook onto the reef to look out for eagle rays, barracudas, groupers and sometimes even whalesharks!

Coconut Wall

The drop off takes us along the coast drifting normally in a southeasterly direction. As well as anthias, flatworms, nudis and batfish, we can see schooling snappers and perhaps some sharks and majestic eagle rays.


Here the drop-off slopes to a sandy bottom. The current here is mild and we can see a big school of batfish and sometimes leopard sharks. In the shallows we can see schools of of grouper and red snapper.

Paradise 123

Along this coral slope we can see…fusilier, sweetlips, butterfly, angel, grouper, damselfish, anthias, batfish, scorpion, blennies, shrimp, crab, nudibranch, turtles, rays and maybe black tipped reef sharks. What would be the ultimate treat to see here? To meet a thresher shark or two!


Here along this beautiful fringing coral reef we have the chance to see: Fusilier, Butterfly, Angel, Grouper, Damselfish, Anthias, Scorpion, Blennies, Shrimp, Crab, Nudibranch, Turtle and even Sharks!

Turtle Traffic

Love green sea turtles? This dive is for you! Maybe we can see up to 30 on just one dive. Here we can experience a relaxing drift dive. We also have the chance to see small groups of barracudas, jackfish and stingrays.. Being mindful to look out for critters on the reef. This location is beautiful for macro photography.

Land excursion: Goa Halo Tabung, Maratua Island – We use our tender boats to reach the southwest coast of Maratua where we hop off onto a wooden bridge. We then walk a short half mile to Goa Halo Tabunge (meaning Halo Tube Cave). We are met with beautiful, turquoise, still water which we can enter using steps on the low side of the pool and begin our swim through the cave. Sea water enters through the crevices of the cave, which is why the water here is salty.

Donning snorkeling equipment and buoys, we can enjoy an easy and relaxing float through this tunnel-like cave. Surrounded by the chirping crickets, luscious greenery and tranquil atmosphere, this is a moment to savour.

Days 6/7 Sangalaki (7 dives)

This area is famous for the large population of turtles and manta rays year round and guests will frequently see them feeding. The island has a turtle nursery run by the local government which can be visited. Whale sharks are frequently seen off the coast of the island.

Sandy Ridge

Macro lovers are in for a treat right here. Nudibranch, sea slug, flat worms, and other small critters galore! Butterfly fish, angel fish, and sweet lips are always resident at this site.

Turtle Town

We can expect to find…turtles! As well as unexpected surprises. Napoleon wrasse and cuttlefish. This reef is full of butterfly fish, banner fish, angel fish, surgeon fish, fusiliers, trevally, sweet lips, moorish idol, damsel fish and much more. Paradise for macro lovers too! It’s also a great spot for night dives.

Coral Garden Sangalaki

Here we dive an extremely beautiful and healthy coral reef. We can find a real variety of interesting creatures here including frog fish, crocodile fish, mandarin fish, butterfly fish, angelfish, and mantis shrimp. For those who enjoy macro, we can find tiny critters such as anemone shrimps, coral crabs and sea fan crabs.

Manta Run

Manta rays will rise up from the deeper water, and then after reaching the surface, they will circle around in order to feed on plankton. Manta rays are more often seen during the afternoon. This diving spot has a good reef, good visibility and a wide variety of reef fish.

Manta Parade

As the name suggests, we are very likely to meet a number of mantas here. It’s also a great place for snorkeling with manta ray here as they rise to the surface. Here, mantas are mostly seen from morning to noon. Coral reefs in this area are patchy and here we can find huge schools of fusiliers and surgeon fish. Various gobies and ghost pipe fish can also be found here. If we are lucky, we can also find leopard sharks here!

Eel ridge

This sandy bottomed dive site has a ‘field’ full of sand eel/ghost eel. A very different and surreal diving experience! Visibility is better during the morning to noon compared to the afternoon. We can be lucky to find lobster and mantis shrimp here too.

Manta Avenue

Manta rays can be found swimming on the surface during morning to noon. It is a shallow diving/snorkeling site, with a beautifully healthy reef. Here we swim with butterfly fish, angel fish, surgeon fish, and fusiliers. There’s also the manta beauty salon located here…a secret manta cleaning station, where mantas get cleaned by cleaner fish. The manta will swim gracefully, circling around whilst we enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery.

Day 8 Disembarkation in Tarakan

Total dives: 23

RAJA AMPAT Sorong-Sorong 10 Days-9 Nights


10 Days/9 Nights Sorong – Sorong Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Sorong

Raja Ampat means ‘Four Kings’. In an archipelago of over 1,500 small islands there are four main islands or ‘kings’– Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, Misool. The majority of Raja Ampat is in Marine Protected Areas. These islands usually experience varying visibility depending on the weather conditions and warm water around 27-30C (81-86F).

Days 2-6 Misool, Raja Ampat (17 dives)

Misool is in the south of Raja Ampat and we will dive at the many small islands in the southeast. Over the past years Misool has become Raja Ampats best diving area, being famous for the profusion of colorful soft corals, sea fans beautifully draped all over the reefs and a huge amount of all kind of fishes on every single dive. Take a look at some photos taken in this area in our album Soft Coral Heaven.

The islands in southeast Misool are grouped by areas. Here are the names of the areas and dive sites we may visit (weather permitting):

Misool – Boo Area

Boo Windows is the famous dive site in this area. It is best known for the “windows” or rounded openings on the end of the largest rock that completely pierce the reef from the surface down to about five meters/fifteen feet. Although the two rocks appear separate from the surface they are in fact connected underwater by a magnificent reef draped in soft corals and brimming with fish. See photos of the Windows here. Boo Ridge is an underwater ridge coming off the eastern point of Boo Island. Both sides are covered in huge gorgonian sea fans. At these dive sites look out for turtles, reef sharks, pygmies, nudis and schooling batfish, fusiliers and snappers. Shadow Reef is a submerged seamount south of Boo. The fish life here is profuse with napoleon wrasses of all sizes, baby white tip reef sharks sleeping under the table corals, schooling barracuda and batfish and for the lucky ones maybe a manta ray circling the cleaning stations. Birthday Cake is a beautiful ridge in the Boo Area. Look for pygmy seahorses, flatworms and nudibranch in the deeper section and beautiful soft corals in the shallows, where we even have seen the famous “walking shark” – epaulette shark. Eagle Nest is a seamount close to the island of Warakaraket. With the right current we have been lucky to see lots of fish action, including grey reef sharks, giant travellies hunting in clouds of fusiliers and even manta rays.

Misool – Yuliet Area

The tiny islands of Yuliet and Romeo both have surrounding plateaux in the shallows that slope down to reefs or small walls. At Yuliet there is a good chance to see the ‘Santa Claus pygmy’ a red colour variation of the Denise pygmy seahorse. In the shallows are large coral heads completely covered in colourful soft corals. Schools of barracuda and batfish as well as napoleon wrasses are often seen here. Romeo is a great night dive where we will look for the endemic epaulette shark, the ‘walking’ shark.

Misool – Fiabecet

Fiabecet area has a selection of dives where the colourful soft corals and beautiful sea fans literally smother the reefs. The soft corals here are truly outstanding. There is a deep underwater ridge connecting the island of Boo in the east to the island of Kalig in the west. In parts this ridge moves up shallower and forms the dive sites of Boo West Corner, Batu Kecil (aka Tank Rock), Nudi Rock, Whale Rock and Kalig Ridge. Expect healthy fish life, pygmy seahorses galore, nudis, colourful anemones, reef sharks and perhaps a Wobbegong shark. Anti-chovy is a large underwater seamount with some deep pinnacles covered in stunning corals. Mobula rays, golden trevallies and Napoleon wrasses can be found here. On top of the seamount look for turtles, stonefish and reef octopus.

Misool – Wayilbatan Area

Neptune Fan Sea is a small channel between two islands with a shallow wall completely covered in some of the biggest gorgonian sea fans you will ever see. At the start of the dive explore the beautiful coral heads where huge groupers can be hiding. Then drift along the wall and enjoy the view of the sea fans, stopping once in a while to find the tiny pygmy seahorse. Four Kings is a stunning dive site made up of four underwater pinnacles. Swim from one rock to the next enjoying the soft corals and fish life. Look out for schooling big eye jacks, spadefishes and grey reef sharks. Wedding Cake, Dunia Kecil and Wayili Rock offer chances to see schools of batfish, trevallies, barracuda, pygmy seahorses and reef octopus.

Misool – Daram Area

Daram is the most easterly point of the islands we might visit in Misool. The reef at Andiamo is stunning and is large enough for at least two dives. There is a submerged pinnacle where sea fans are surrounded by schools of fusiliers and batfish. A short swim across a sandy bottom brings you to the main reef lush with soft corals. In between the two islets is a gap thick with sea fans and is excellent for wide-angle photography. Look out for black tip reef sharks and napoleon wrasse, if you can see them through all the fish! Candy Store is so named because the first divers to explore this reef felt like kids in a candy store. Huge sponges, beautiful soft corals and sea fans cover this dive site, especially in the valleys where schools of fusiliers, butterfly fish and sometimes barracuda gather. Warna Berwarna in Bahasa Indonesia means “Vibrant Colors”. Expect to see sea fans in all possible colors and watch out for pygmy seahorses. On the northwestern side of the island there is a beautiful ridge coming out where tons of fusiliers and orange spotted trevallies hang out in the blue. The shallows are covered with healthy hard corals and often we get to see schooling bumphead parrotfishes.

Misool – Pele Area

Kaleidoscope is so called because of the profusion of colours produced by the huge soft corals draping the shallow rocks and coral heads. A ridge extends out west from the island which can full of fish when the current is running. Back at the island finish the dive under the overhangs.

Misool – Sagof

The little islets of Baby Rock and Two Tree Island create amazing dive sites with abundant fish life. There is a resident school of batfish at Baby Rock and Two Tree Island is often full of thousands bait fish. The Watch Towers is a massive seamount with tons of black coral in the deeper section. Schools of yellow snappers, barracudas and giant trevallies can be found in the up-current side. On the hard coral plateau look out for wobbegong sharks and crocodile fish.

Misool – Tomolol Cave

There is a possibility on this day to visit Tomolol Cave that has a river-sized waterway running through it. We take a 20-minute tender ride through a pearl farm and into the rugged interior. Once at the cave we float and paddle our way inside to enjoy the amazing rock formations. There is a large opening at the other end and also a ‘secret’ cave to explore. This tour is dependent on receiving permission from the pearl farm and local village. Check our Tomolol Cave photo album.

Day 7 Penemu Area (3 dives)

Penemu is an island west of Waigeo with a selection of dives sites. Melissa’s Garden is the most well known. Here there are very healthy hard coral reefs in the shallows and a beautiful coral garden sloping to the sides where schooling fish hang out in the current. Wobbegong sharks like to sleep under the coral heads and inside the large cup corals here. Hundreds of anthias dance in and out of the corals where you might also see a sea snake. Penemu Wall and My Reef are also great dives in this area. After the two morning dives we will visit the viewpoint in Penemu where you can appreciate the iconic Raja Ampat view of the groups of islands nestled inside beautiful blue lagoons. Check out our Beaches & Islands album. At sunset we will dive at Batu Rufus. There is a shallow swim through framed beautifully by soft corals and sea fans. Below this is a sloping reef where hard corals shelter cardinal fish in the shallows and in the deep, Pontoni seahorses and nudibranch can be found on the coral heads.

Days 8-9 Dampier Strait (5-6 dives)

The strait that flows between Waigeo and Batanta is rapidly becoming known as having really good diving in Raja Ampat as a result of the nutrient-rich ocean currents passing through. Everything that makes for a wonderful dive can be found here. But even beyond the usual delights and the satisfaction of spotting prized macro subjects such as the newly discovered Pontohi pygmy seahorse on the coral heads, there are surprises to be found in every dive.

The fish life in this area is as plentiful as can be expected at sites with a great deal of healthy hard and soft coral. Wobbegong sharks can also be found at any of these dive sites, especially at Mioskon. Cape Kri holds the impressive record of 374 fish species identified during one 90-minute dive. Blue Magic is a submerged seamount where there is a chance to encounter Giant manta rays.

Ironically, sardines are about the only reef fish not found at the site of Sardine Reef, but you won’t even notice as you see swarms of fusiliers, surgeonfish, trevallies, rainbow runners, sweetlips and bannerfish practically blocking out the sky swarming over a reef decorated with sea fans, soft corals and huge orange elephant ear sponges encrusted with pastel colonies of tunicates. One of the more unique thrills of this site is being able to hear “fish thunder” – the loud booming sound made when a large number of fish move rapidly through open water.

There is also a small village with Sawandarek Jetty. In the shallows the jetty posts are covered in soft corals and below look for sweetlips, big eyed jacks and massive green turtles. On the reef see huge giant clams nestled among pulsing soft corals. At night look for huge lobsters and maybe even catch a glimpse of the endemic epaulette shark, the ‘walking’ shark. The reef also provides shelter for many interesting small animals like hermit crabs, flatworms and the very cute pughead pipefish.

Between the dives there is an opportunity to visit the village on Sawandarek Island to see the traditional way of life for these island people. Be ready to be greeted by many children who are more than willing to pose for photographs. Anyone joining our cruise is more than welcome to bring along some goodies for the children at Sawandarek. Obviously the children love sweets but we encourage people to bring pencils, pens, notebooks or coloring books – all of which don’t rot their teeth! The school always needs more materials and the girls love hair clips and bands. Please try to limit the amount of plastic packaging, leave this at home where it can be correctly recycled.
On the last full day of the cruise there will be one or two dives depending on the flight times out of Sorong the next day. After the dives we will travel back to Sorong.

Day 10 Disembarkation in Sorong

Total dives: 25-26 dives