SELAYAR-TAKA BONERATE-MAUMERE BAY Makassar-Maumere 14 Days-13 Nights

SELAYAR-TAKA BONERATE-MAUMERE BAY

14 Days/13 Nights Makassar-Maumere Cruise Itinerary

As exclusive as it gets; The Arenui cruises this South Sulawesi route only once a year. Our embarkation point is in Makassar which can easily be reached by domestic flight from Jakarta. Our journey from Makassar to Maumere will bring us first via Selayar. This area is blessed with unlimited dive potential as well as pristine white sandy beaches and a relaxing atmosphere; truly wonderful. We can spot tiny pygmy seahorses hiding in delicate sea fans. An abundance of reef fish can be seen here such as fusiliers, snappers, and occasionally tunas, mantas, eagle rays and sharks can be seen passing by. 

We then continue our journey between the 21 islands of Taka Bonerate National Park; the world’s third largest atoll. In 2015 the Taka Bonerate National Park was included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.The atoll consists of separate table reefs enclosing a lagoon filled with massive reefs.

Immaculately clear waters offer a wide range of different types of reefs, from barrier reefs to fringing reefs and atolls to steep drop-offs, as well as slopes and flat seabeds. So many opportunities for us divers to be amazed by the incredible beauty of this underwater world here. Besides the 242 species of corals, Taka Bonerate boasts 526 species of colorful and unusual reef fish as well as 112 species of macroalgae.

Here we have very good chances of getting up close with turtles, mantas, dolphins, turtles, sharks and even sperm whales! We will glide past majestic giant gorgonian fans and black corals. This unspoilt underwater paradise brings us an immense variety of sealife including scorpion fish, tuna, nudis, napoleon wrasse, as well as hawksbill, green and Pacific Ridley turtles. Taka Bonerate is home to areas of the world’s highest marine diversity. With over 50 amazing dive sites, the park is absolute heaven on Earth for divers.

Day 1 Embarkation in Makassar

Day 2 – Sarontang/Pulau Kambing (3-4 dives)

Sarontang/Pulau Kambing (meaning Goat Island) lies in the strait between Selayar island and Bira. Wonderous sharky waters and incredible wall dives. As well as colorful coral gardens and hunting grounds of mackerels, tunas and giant trevallies. Giant bumphead parrotfish can be seen here in groups cruising by. On the same dive you might spot illusive scorpionfishes, cuttlefish or perhaps an octopus and if we’re lucky a beautiful orange and black juvenile zebra batfish.

Main Dive Sites: Coral Garden, Eagle’s Rock, The Cave, The Great Wall of Goats

DAY 3 North Selayar – Pulau Pasitanete (4 dives)

Exploratory diving around Pulau Pasitanete and Pulau Pasitanete Lighthouse.

DAY 4 – Central Selayar – Tanjung Tampu  (4 dives)

Exploratory diving.

DAY 5 – Central Selayar – Tanjung Cumi  (4 dives)

Opera Wall

This is a stunning wall with huge black coral formations in the deeper sections. The dive can be dived both deep and shallow and all depth levels offer beautiful macro opportunities. We usually aim to swim a little along the wall which enables us to cross over the top of our Shark Point site – here we swim through a ‘fish soup’ of schooling bannerfish and snappers, huge barracuda are often resting here and large marble rays are not uncommon. We finish the dive along the reef top where there are usually too many turtles to count, sea snakes and for those looking for smaller critters, leaf fish, orang-utan crabs, shrimps, velutinids and nudibranch are all residing here!

Shark Point

This site is a 10 minute boat ride from the resort and starts as a deep wall which bottoms out to a sandy slope at around 30 meters. We start the dive along the wall which is covered with gorgonians, black corals and colourful sponges. Before dropping down to the slope we swim through schools of snappers, jacks and schooling bannerfish – a resident great barracuda is also known to hang in the shallows here too! Once on the slope we follow the reef down to around 40 meters where both white tip and grey reef sharks are frequently patrolling the reef and the blue. This is also an ideal spot for seeing large marble rays, tuna and napoleons as well as eagle rays passing overhead. On days when the larger predators are not present this site still offers fantastic diversity and numerous turtles can be seen on every dive here as well as leaf fish, sea snakes, huge giant trevallies and small schools of barracudas. The reef top at the end of the dive offers beautiful corals and this is often where we find interesting critters including various shrimps, orang-utan crabs, giant clams and blue spotted stingrays.

Canyon

Here we often see schools of bat fish and on the deep sand bottom we sometimes see sharks passing back and forth. Stingrays are not uncommon here and it is not unusual to see an eagle ray swooping by overhead or in the blue. This is a beautiful dive site, best dived when the currents are running a little stronger.

Outside

The Outside dive site starts as a sandy slope which we usually drift along in the current – here we hope to see large napoleons, schools of bat fish and occasionally large rays. The slope soon becomes a stunning vertical wall which is pocked with ledges, caverns and interesting formations. Along the wall look out for nudibranch, shrimps, beautiful anemones and some large sweetlips as well as sea snakes and long-nose hawkfish amongst the soft corals.

DAY 6/8 – South Selayar (12 dives)

Unspunnenstein

A Swiss dive site name. This site is a steeply sloping reef and wall with alcoves and cracks in which many reef fish can be found. Here we should be on the lookout in the patches of Halimeda algae for the (you’ve guessed it!) halimeda ghost pipefish along with flatworms, shrimps and nudis.

Doda

Similar topography to Unspunnenstein with a deep sloping reef and wall. Tons of soft corals, gorgonians and sponges, colorful and abundant. Here we find an especially beautiful reef flat here with many staghorn corals, habitat of wrasse, harlequin sweetlips fish and other colorful species of reef fish. Look out for ghost pipefish, shrimp, leaf fish, turtles and crabs species. Some banded seasnakes may also meet us there.

Apatana Höhle

Heading in a southerly direction we head towards ‘the hole’. Along this slope of sand and coral we can expect to find schooling of fusiliers and batfish; lionfish, garden eels, blue spotted stingrays, razor fish and anemone shrimp along with an abundance of reef fish. Reaching the hole of an impressive overhang with a 130ft/40m maximum depth. Perhaps we’ll see some bumphead parrotfish cruising bay too.

Little Wall

Be ready for some impressive gorgonian seafans of many colors and kinds. Scanning these fans we can find illusive pygmy seahorses. Check out the anemones for orangutan crabs and look around for blue spotted stingrays and bumphead parrotfish.

DAY 9/12 – Taka Bonerate (14-16 dives)

Takabonerate is a marine park located in the Flores Sea, South Sulawesi.These islands are the habitat of a huge variety of sea life and bird species and are hardly visited by tourists. No phone or internet signal means we switch off from everyday life and engage with nature, from your luxurious abode; The Arenui vessel. 

An incredible variety of wall and garden reef dives are to be explored. There is practically no current on most dives and so those who like to relax and enjoy the view without treading the current, are going to me more than comfortable. The rangers do their jobs well keeping the reefs pristine. The underwater features are amazing, almost as if diving in an aquarium. The beached on the surrounding islands are beautiful, white soft sand. The scenery is truly wonderful. Heaven on earth.

Visibility on average is great. What life can we see here?… this place is a haven for baby sharks that swim in the shallows around the colorful and clean coral reefs. We can see other pretty reef creatures such as, butterfly fish, cardinal fish, angelfish, grouper, surgeon fish, damselfish, batfish trevallies, snapper, fusiliers, sweetlips, wrasse, parrot fish, trigger fish, bumphead fish, scorpion fish, lobster, eagle rays, nudibrands, crocodile fish, moray eels, schooling mackerel, and bigger predator fishes like barracuda, tuna and adult sharks

Main Dive Sites: Jinato Wall Paradise, Small Totoke Spot, Bajang Pogo, Huntu Ceria, Uka, Pinky Fish, Taka Mallori, Ibel Orange, Corina Corner, Pasitallu Raja, Kolam Ganterang.

DAY 13 – Maumere Bay (3 dives)

Maumere Bay is an extensive, beautiful bay surrounded by volcanoes and gentle hills and rimmed by islands. Maumere Bay encompasses the whole area around Maumere town, all the way to the East until Tanjung Darat and including the islands of Besar, Dambilah, Pangabatang, Babi and Pamana.

Pulau Babi’, translating to ‘pig island’ to the northern part, is bordered by a thick coral reef. Toward the south there is a small tidal flat and at the southern end of the island, the barrier reef tapers. It has deep walls with lots of cracks and crevices with leather corals in the shallows. Babi is home to many dive sites, including the famous ‘crack’.

Mandarin Patch

Can you guess what we find here? That’s right, the illusive and beautiful mandarin fish during dusk. This is a small reef on a gentle slope with many sponges and corals that are home to many creatures such as shrimps, trigger fishes, cuttlefish, eels, lobsters, and nudis. Be on the look out for stonefishes, ribbon eels and even  ghost pipefish.

Zubinarius (one for the critter divers!!)

A not long known site that was found to be home to shaggy frogfishes (Antennarius hispidus). It is a true muck site with sand and mud. Aside from frogfishes there are also a lot of other critters like large seahorses, octopuses, nudibranchs, small pipefishes, coconut crabs, sea cucumbers and slugs.

The Crack

This ‘crack’ was formed during an earthquake in 1992. Located in a reef 20 meters (66 ft) below the water, the 70-centimetre (28 in) crack reaches a length of 30 meters (98 ft).
Corals grow in it and a lot of reef fish live here. We then dive along a steep wall, full with coral growth, mostly hard corals, large sea fans and reef fish.  Look out into the blue for sharks and rays as well as up close to the reef for smaller life like nudibranchs, leaf scorpionfishes, eels and morays, octopus, lobsters and frogfish…

DAY 14 – Disembarkation in Maumere

Total dives: 44-47

BANDA-HALMAHERA-MISOOL

BANDA-HALMAHERA-MISOOL

13 Days/12 Nights Ambon-Sorong Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Ambon

Day 2 Ambon Bay (3 dives)

Ambon Bay is a perennial favourite destination among divers simply for the staggering array of creatures that can be found here. There are even new discoveries of species still being made here such as the recently named psychedelic frogfish.
Some of the critters encountered here are wunderpus and mimic octopus, frogfish, zebra crabs and dozens of different nudibranchs. It seems as if all the members of the scorpionfish family are gathered here including spiny devilfish, stonefish, lionfish, leaf fish and even Rhinopias. Another family group well represented here are moray eels and you can generally find snowflake, fimbriated and curious white-eyed morays residing in crevices or even gliding among the reefs. This area is also a good spot for catching a glimpse of ornate ghost pipefish and the extremely rare halimeda ghost pipefish.

Days 3-6 Halmahera (14-15 dives)

Join The Arenui and dive in some of the most pristine and unexplored locations in Indonesia. Situated between Lembeh and Raja Ampat, the Halmahera region offers divers the opportunity to embark on almost untouched, premium diving. Halmahera is the largest island of the Moluccas and the incredible underwater species diversity can be said to be on par with neighbouring Raja Ampat.

You will be spoilt for choice with the type of dive sites here. Critter dives, drift dives along steep walls, coral gardens, and even incredible volcanic rock formations that are now totally covered with corals. Amazing caverns and swim-throughs that create dramatic underwater scenery. We peek under large overhangs, which can be an ideal shark resting spot. The small cracks are the ideal habitat for beautiful and interesting macro species. There are so many fantastic known sites as well as ‘to-be-discovered’ sites here in Halmahera.

The sea life is all that you would hope for in the coral triangle with special surprises such as the endemic walking shark, psychedelic frogs fish and majestic mantas.

Above the waterline, volcanoes rise up to the sky, all coated in lush green jungle. The abundance and diversity of flora and fauna in Halmahera was one of the main locations that inspired Sir Alfred Russel Wallace to develop his theory of the origin of species.

The scenery both above and below the water here is breathtaking. With wonderful pelagics, stunning visibility and some of the world’s best critter diving, situated in the very center of the coral triangle. This location is perfect for divers who have ‘seen it all’ as well as those with only a few dives under their proverbial weight belt.

Day 7-8  Exploratory Diving (7-8 dives)

We’ll explore the little known area between Halmahera and Misool. We’ll also spend time around the Norther Coast of Misool. Something exciting awaits us 😉

Days 9-11 Misool, Raja Ampat (9-11 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 Ampat 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 – 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 12 Dampier Strait (2 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 13 Disembarkation in Sorong

Total dives: 35-39 dives

SOUTH FORGOTTEN ISLANDS Saumlaki-Maumere 12 days-11 Nights

SOUTH FORGOTTEN ISLANDS

12 Days/11 Nights Saumlaki – Maumere Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Saumlaki

Days 2-8 Forgotten Islands

The Forgotten Islands are part of a remote archipelago in the southeast corner of the Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara). Despite the remote feeling in other parts of Indonesia (such as Alor or Banda), the Forgotten Islands are isolated even by Indonesian standards, covering a 1,000 km long chain of islands staring at Timor and extending up to West Papua. The Tanimbar group of around 65 islands that separate the Banda Sea from the Arafura Sea include the island of Yamdena where the capital Saumlaki is where this cruise begins.

There are many groups of islands in this area and the Forgotten Islands are relatively undiscovered and still being explored. The exact itinerary around these islands will depend exclusively on the weather and current conditions. Also due to the big distances between island groups some of the days will include three day dives before heading off in the afternoon and travelling overnight. When the next location is closer and there are anchorage spots in sheltered bays we will offer a fourth dive, usually a night dive.

Dive sites in the Forgotten Islands are characterised by endless reefs and spectacular deep walls covered in soft corals, sea fans and huge sponges. These islands usually experiences amazing visibility and warm water around 27-30C (81-86F). Here are the names of the islands we may visit (weather permitting) during your cruise:

Dawera Island (4 dives)

This small island is in the northern part of the Babar group of islands. There is a seamount where the reef is untouched and so full of fish you won’t know where to look! Along the north side of the islands there are numerous wonderful dive sites ranging from Tanjung Raja where there are stunning soft corals to Sponge Delight where there is a huge resident school of barracudas and even a chance to see hammerhead sharks. The diving in this area is so good we may even stay an extra day.

Dai Island (3-4 dives)

The villagers on this island still practice traditional hunting with bow and arrow. Steep slopes provide hunting grounds for schooling barracuda and trevally. Large sea fans on the reef are surrounded by very healthy reef fish life. The shallows here are full of hard corals decorated with anthias.

Serua/Teun/Nila/Nil Desperandum

Teun, Nila and Serua, often referred to as TNS, are all small, very remote volcanic islands only accessible by liveaboard, located just east of Damar. You will feel as if you have reached the ends of the earth and that may be why there is a growing interest in diving in this zone. Although the sites here remain relatively unexplored, experiences so far have revealed tremendous diving potential and splendid coral reefs.

Close to the small island of Nila are two atolls Dusborgh and Nil Desperandum. Weather permitting we will spend two days in this area, making a small bay on the east side of the island of Nila our base. There is also a night dive opportunity here.

Nila/Dusborgh (3-4 dives)

Dusborgh is a submerged atoll with a surrounding reef that reaches all the way up to the surface. The reef then slopes steeply to deep walls. As with all of the Forgotten Islands the walls are covered in huge sponges and sea fans. With the amazing visibility keep an eye into the deep for passing pelagics. A small bay on the east side of the island of Nila has a night dive opportunity.

Nil Desperandum (3-4 dives)

Nil Desperandum means “don’t despair” possibly referring to a ship wrecked here centuries ago. It is a big atoll with very deep drop offs. Schooling sharks have been spotted in the deep here with a chance to see hammerhead, silky and grey reef sharks.

Pulau Damar/Nusleur/Terbang (4 dives)

Close to the big island of Damar the small islands of Nusleur, Terbang Utara and Terbang Selatan are surrounded by pristine beaches that stretch out to coral reefs that then drop down to the most beautiful, untouched walls. From top to bottom, the reef is an explosion of different colours and forms and seems to be in constant motion from the swarms of fish darting about. You may find yourself floating in the midst of a huge school of fish as the sea creatures here appear quite curious, perhaps because they are generally not used to seeing many divers. Another unique attraction in this area is the wall of sulphur formed as a result of its proximity to the volcano on Damar. There is a possibility to visit a village on Damar where there is also a black sand night dive.

Nyata (4 dives)

Tanjung Nyata is a wall covered in huge sponges that then turns into a deep, steep slope. On the way look out for passing large fish like tuna and trevallies. At the top of the wall is a very healthy hard coral reef where there is a resident school of snappers. At the start of the slope is a deep pinnacle where grey reef sharks circle and on the slope itself are again huge sponges and schooling fish such as barracuda, surgeon fish and fusiliers. Thousands of blue tooth triggers and pyramid butterfly fish hang out. We have even seen eagle rays pass by.

Pulau Wetar/Reong (3 dives)

Not many people can say that they have dived Wetar Island. It has several calm bays where interesting critters can be found as well as swift drift dives between Wetar and Reong that takes you past a spectacularly coloured wall.

The small island of Reong, which lies off the northwest coast of Wetar, presents a change in scenery as it is made of limestone. Reef sharks, barracuda and trevallies frequently visit these waters. Other delights can be found while diving the impressive walls and a site full of diverse marine life.

Tanjung Nunukae on Wetar Island is generally characterised by shallows forming a plateau that narrows as it goes deeper until it drops off abruptly, forming a very nice wall swathed in gigantic sea fans, cup corals and impressive sponges. Divers have come across both mobula and manta rays here. Currents are generally moderate to strong.

Day 9 Pura Island/Kalabahi Bay (4 dives)

Dives in the Alor/Pantar Strait promise a variety of thrills as the sites present a wide array of exciting possibilities, with topography ranging from dramatic shear drop-offs, spurs jutting out from the shore mingling together with shallow reefs where the light brings out the full colour of the dazzling corals covering all surfaces. The water temperature can be a little cooler in this area dropping from the normal 28/29 degrees Celsius (82-84 Fahrenheit) to a possible 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).

Here you can see the famous Pura Island villagers splash out of their wooden dugout canoes diving underwater with homemade goggles made out of wood and the ends of glass bottles.
During the day we will also look out for large pelagics who use the Pantar Strait as a thoroughfare. If there are any sightings of whales, dolphins or even Mola Mola we may forego a dive and head out in the tenders with snorkelling gear to see if we can have a lucky encounter.

Yan Village

At Yan Village there are several wonderful spots to dive. Walls covered in sponges topped with shallow hard coral reefs where you can spot the elusive Mandarin fish to black sandy slopes where fans of macro will get their fill too. Some examples of the critters here are frogfish, weedy scorpionfish, all sorts of nudibranchs and yellow, blue and black ribbon eels.

Clown Valley

One exceptional dive site on Pura Island is probably the only place in the world where you will see this phenomenon. The entire reef is completely covered in anemones of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy a drift dive along this site and enjoy the abundant fish life, with thousands of colourful anthias and damsels dancing off the reef. Take a look at photos of Clown Valley and other wide-angle opportunities in Alor here.

Kalabahi Bay

Mucky Mosque and Rocky Church are two of the great muck dives we will do inside Kalabahi Bay on Alor Island. The ‘holy grail of fish’ Rhinopias can be found here, with a chance to see both the weedy and paddleflap scorpionfish. Ghost pipefish, soft coral crabs, frogfish, various octopus including the wunderpus and mimic, snake eels, sea moths, sand divers and many other remarkable creatures The only way you are likely to see stranger ones is if you do a night dive here when unimaginable ones begin foraging out of their holes.

Day 10 Visit traditional Abui tribe village/Reta Island (2 dives)

In the morning we will visit Takpala or Latevui village, both villages still living by their old Abui traditions. The villagers will perform the Lego-Lego dance wearing traditional clothing with brass anklets that make a wonderful jingling sound as they perform. Afterwards there is an opportunity to purchase handmade ikat, woven fabrics of various colours and motifs, as well as jewellery and wooden artifacts. Take a look at our photo album of these villages at Alor Abui Tribe
After the village tour we will travel out into the Alor/Pantar Strait to Reta Island where we will do two dives.

Reta Island

Reta Island has beautiful vertical walls with overhangs, undercuts and a deep plateau at 25m/75ft. It is full of hard and soft corals, barrel sponges and whip corals. At the top of the wall is a gorgeous coral garden teeming with reef fish.

Day 11 Kawula Island (4 dives)
Next to the north of Kawula Island there is a beautiful, calm bay overlooked by Lewotolo volcano. We spend the day diving here.

Tanjung Bacatan

Tanjung Bacatan is within view of Lembata and Komba volcanoes. Tanjung means corner and the dive site is situated on a point on the north shore of Kawula island. The dive site consists of a wall covered in crevices and ledges covered in soft corals and large sponges with hard coral gardens in the shallows. At one end the wall turns into a white sandy slope hosting many varieties of reef fish and triggerfish. A resident school of barracuda can be seen here as well as turtles and maybe even large trevallies passing by.

Takat Prau

In the middle of the bay there is a seamount we call Takat Prau. There is a small wooden fishing boat wrecked in the deep right next to a sea fan with pygmies. There can be schooling fusiliers here with small reef sharks patrolling the pinnacle. Leaf fish make their home in the shallows and large reef octopus are often spotted hunting in the hard coral.

Padang Pasir

This dive site has two sections. A huge expanse of white sand extends to the south and a mini wall and reef comes out from the corner of the island. In the sandy area look for waspfish, flounders, stingrays and ghost pipefish. On the wall algae shrimp, moray eels, lionfish and beautiful angelfish hide out. At the top of the reef there are healthy staghorn corals where you might spot a mandarin fish. At night the wall and reef come alive with shrimps and crabs and there is a chance you will see Spanish dancer nudis. Or hunt around in the sand for stargazers, bobtail squid and frogfish.

Day 12 Disembarkation in Maumere

Total dives: 32-36 dives

KOMODO-ALOR Maumere-Labuanbajo 11 Days-10 Nights

KOMODO-ALOR

11 Days/10 Nights Maumere- Labuanbajo ALOR-KOMODO Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Maumere

Day 2 Pulau Babi (2-3 dives)

Pulau Babi

Pulau Babi literally means ‘pig island’. Its north end is bordered by a wide coral reef and faces the Flores Sea. Further south there is a small tidal flat where two villages were built. At the southern end of the island, the barrier reef tapers. It has deep walls with lots of cracks and crevices with leather corals in the shallows. Babi is home to many dive sites. One, called The Crack, was formed during an earthquake in 1992. Located in a reef 20 metres (66 ft) below the water, the 70-centimetre (28 in) crack reaches a length of 30 metres (98 ft).

Day 3 Kawula Island (4 dives)

In the south-west of Kawula Island there is a bay with world class muck diving sites.

Tanjung Waiwowan

This dive site is a mixture of reef and white sandy slope full of amazing critters. Here we have another chance to see the allusive Rhinopias camouflaged in the coral slope. This is a perfect environment for different kinds of ghost pipefish including the very rare Halemeda ghost pipefish. Wunderpus and blue ring octopus were spotted here before. During the night dive juvenile brown-banded bamboo sharks, Helmut flying gurnards and frogfish crawl around the darkened site. A full day can easily be spent here in order to discover all the wonderful creatures.

The Frog and Catfish

So named due to the number of giant frogfish and the huge school of catfish found here the first time we dived this large jetty for the local ferries. The jetty provides an excellent place for giant frogfish to laze around the concrete posts. Rhinopias, mantis shrimps, ghost pipefish, nudis and leaf fish have also been found here. Diving at this site is dependant on the local ferry schedule and permission from the authorities.

Day 4 Visit traditional Abui tribe village/Reta Island (2 dives)

In the morning we will visit Takpala or Latevui village, both villages still living by their old Abui traditions. The villagers will perform the Lego-Lego dance wearing traditional clothing with brass anklets that make a wonderful jingling sound as they perform. Afterwards there is an opportunity to purchase handmade ikat, woven fabrics of various colours and motifs, as well as jewellery and wooden artifacts. Take a look at our photo album of these villages at Alor Abui Tribe
After the village tour we will travel out into the Alor/Pantar Strait to Reta Island where we will do two dives before traveling to Kawula Island.

Reta Island

Reta Island and has beautiful vertical walls with overhangs, undercuts and a deep plateau at 25m/75ft. It is full of hard and soft corals, barrel sponges and whip corals. At the top of the wall is a gorgeous coral garden teeming with reef fish.

Day 5 Pura Island/Kalabahi Bay (4 dives)

Dives in the Alor/Pantar Strait promise a variety of thrills as the sites present a wide array of exciting possibilities, with topography ranging from dramatic shear drop-offs, spurs jutting out from the shore mingling together with shallow reefs where the light brings out the full colour of the dazzling corals covering all surfaces. The water temperature can be a little cooler in this area dropping from the normal 28/29 degrees Celsius (82-84 Fahrenheit) to a possible 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).

Here you can see the famous Pura Island villagers splash out of their wooden dugout canoes diving underwater with homemade goggles made out of wood and the ends of glass bottles.
During the day we will also look out for large pelagics who use the Pantar Strait as a thoroughfare. If there are any sightings of whales, dolphins or even Mola Mola we may forego a dive and head out in the tenders with snorkelling gear to see if we can have a lucky encounter.

Yan Village

At Yan Village there are several wonderful spots to dive. Walls covered in sponges topped with shallow hard coral reefs where you can spot the elusive Mandarin fish to black sandy slopes where fans of macro will get their fill too. Some examples of the critters here are frogfish, weedy scorpionfish, all sorts of nudibranchs and yellow, blue and black ribbon eels.

Clown Valley

One exceptional dive site on Pura Island is probably the only place in the world where you will see this phenomenon. The entire reef is completely covered in anemones of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy a drift dive along this site and enjoy the abundant fish life, with thousands of colourful anthias and damsels dancing off the reef. Take a look at photos of Clown Valley and other wide-angle opportunities in Alor here.

Kalabahi Bay

Mucky Mosque and Rocky Church are two of the great muck dives we will do inside Kalabahi Bay on Alor Island. The ‘holy grail of fish’ Rhinopias can be found here, with a chance to see both the weedy and paddleflap scorpionfish. Ghost pipefish, soft coral crabs, frogfish, various octopus including the wunderpus and mimic, snake eels, sea moths, sand divers and many other remarkable creatures The only way you are likely to see stranger is if you do a night dive here when unimaginable ones begin foraging out of their holes.

Day 6 Bacatan (4 dives)

Next to the north of Kawula Island there is a beautiful, calm bay overlooked by Lewotolo volcano. We spend the day diving here.

Tanjung Bacatan

Tanjung Bacatan is within view of Lembata and Komba volcanoes. Tanjung means corner and the dive site is situated on a point on the north shore of Kawula island. The dive site consists of a wall covered in crevices and ledges covered in soft corals and large sponges with hard coral gardens in the shallows. At one end the wall turns into a white sandy slope hosting many varieties of reef fish and triggerfish. A resident school of barracuda can be seen here as well as turtles and maybe even large trevallies passing by.

Takat Prau

In the middle of the bay there is a seamount we call Takat Prau. There is a small wooden fishing boat wrecked in the deep right next to a sea fan with pygmies. There can be schooling fusiliers here with small reef sharks patrolling the pinnacle. Leaf fish make their home in the shallows and large reef octopus are often spotted hunting in the hard coral.

Padang Pasir

This dive site has two sections. A huge expanse of white sand extends to the south and a mini wall and reef comes out from the corner of the island. In the sandy area look for waspfish, flounders, stingrays and ghost pipefish. On the wall algae shrimp, moray eels, lionfish and beautiful angelfish hide out. At the top of the reef there are healthy staghorn corals where you might spot a mandarin fish. At night the wall and reef come alive with shrimps and crabs and there is a chance you will see Spanish dancer nudis. Or hunt around in the sand for stargazers, bobtail squid and frogfish.

Day 7 North Komodo (4 dives)

Two celebrated dive sites await you, just north of Gili Lawalaut Island. Crystal Rock and Castle Rock are both incredible locations, boasting the key elements for any impressive dive site: a wide variety of healthy corals covering the reef, plus tons of fish – both big and small and all sizes in between! There are more exhilarating dives in this area, Aquarium, Coral Garden, Gili Lawalaut Lighthouse and a bit more to the northeast Batu Montjo, along with good night dives on healthy hard coral reefs off the island of Gili Lawa Darat. Between the dives there is a chance to visit Gili Lawalaut Island and take a short trek to the top of the hill for a wonderful view over the Komodo-Flores channel.

Crystal Rock

The rock jutting out of the surrounding crystal clear waters explains how this site got its name. But what is truly memorable here are the large schools of fusiliers and anthias flitting over the gorgeous soft corals and impressive table corals. In the deep blue, you can also see at times large tuna, mackerel and other fish schooling around a small mound to the northwest. A lone eagle ray is often spotted here cruising in the currents.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock is a submerged pinnacle situated a kilometre further north from Crystal Rock. Its exposed location means strong currents but experienced divers will love the thrills to be had on this dive. In fact, the main action comes from watching the staggering amount of fish such as batfish, groupers, midnight snappers and impressive schools of fusiliers and surgeons whipping past. Of course, divers aren’t the only ones interested in the huge amount of fish here, which explains the giant trevally as well as whitetips, blacktips and grey reef sharks hunting around for their next meal.

Aquarium

This beautiful shallow dive site on the southwest corner of Gili Lawalaut offers a good possibility to see manta rays passing by. Big coral formations surrounded by thousands of glassfish offer amazing wide angle photography opportunities. White tip reef sharks can be found in the sandy bottom area and hawksbill and green turtles can be seen along the calm flower coral reef.

Coral Garden

We start the dive in a white sandy area with stunning coral heads and big barrel sponges. Watch out for leaf scorpionfishes, hairy squat lobsters, morey eels and different types of stingrays. The reef converts into a beautiful hard coral wall where thousands of fusiliers and dozens of trevallies and snappers can be seen.

Batu Montjo

In the northwest of Komodo Island, Batu Montjo is a perfect site to dive as a third dive with a amazing formation of hard corals in the shallows. Many boulders covered with gorgonian sea fans lie in between the white sandy slopes. This combination of hard corals and gorgonian sea fans with all the fish swimming in between the coral garden makes for a perfect relaxing afternoon dive. Leaf fish, mantis shrimp, jaw fish and turtles are often seen at this site.

Gili Lawalaut Lighthouse

On the north of Gili Lawalaut there is a lighthouse at the end of a long reef. When the tide is going down the dive starts on the reef with a drift to the corner. At the corner there are big schools of batfish, snappers, surgeons with napoleon wrasse and reef sharks also hanging around.

Day 8 Komodo-Flores Channel (4 dives)

Currents in this area can be quite strong and we have to dive according to the tides. There are many dive sites and the sites chosen will be dependent on the currents. Finish the day with a great night dive at Wainilo. Komodo is an excellent place for spotting macro critters and the reefs and corals are spectacular too. See some photos here.

Sebayur Kecil

This island at the east side of Komodo National Park is a perfect spot to do our check-out dive as currents tend to be very mild here. We start the dive on a white sand patch were we can look out for blue spotted stingrays, garden eels and other sand inhabitants. Continuing to the east the reef gets into a beautiful hard coral wall. Leaf scorpionfishes, reef octopus and morey eels are only a few of the inhabitants of this site.

Tatawa Besar

This is a thrilling drift dive that starts off from the northwestern tip of Tatawa and continues down the western side towards 15 to 20 meters of depth. The surrounding fish life is profuse and you will see an endless field of stunning orange soft corals as you glide along. Swim past coral heads inhabited by schools of sweetlips and batfish and look out for turtles feeding on the reef. Mantas have been encountered here as well.

Batu Bolong

Underwater this rock is covered in a huge amount of soft and hard corals and full of fish life. In the shallows watch anemone fish and look out for turtles munching on the corals. Giant trevally, white tip reef sharks, snappers and emperor fish tend to congregate here. This site presents particularly good opportunities for both macro and wide-angle photography.

Wainilo

This night dive is situated off the north of Rinca Island. In the shallows, the hard coral reef is home to many different critters, including juvenile harlequin sweetlips and batfish. Away from the reef, the sandy slope is scattered with pulsing soft corals that hide demon stingers and starry night octopus. Different types of nudibranch, frogfishes, harlequin shrimps and even wheedy rhinophias have been seen here.

Day 9 Walk with dragons/Middle Area (3 dives)

Loh Buaya (walk with dragons)

Your day will begin with an exciting visit to Komodo National Park where you will be able to take a stroll with the famous dragon! Take a look at our Komodo Dragon photo album here. As you walk along the paths, also stay on the lookout for deer, wild boar and birds in addition to the giant lizards. After the walk we move to the middle area of Komodo National Park.

Takat Makassar

This is an exhilarating drift dive along the shallow flat bottom interspersed with patches of coral reef teeming with life. There are chances to see manta rays, turtles, eagle rays and white tip and black tip reef sharks.

Siaba Besar

This spot is a nice combination with a white sand area where we can find some great critters as frogfishes, ghost pipefishes, devil scorpionfishes, upside down jellyfish and a big amount of flounders. On the hard coral area watch out for big green turtles, leaf scorpionfishes and pajama cardinalfishes.

Siaba Kecil

This little island offers a beautiful drift dive with some nice overhangs where sweetlips, snappers and trevallies can be found. After the drift we finish the dive in a pretty shallow staghorn coral area with hundreds of anthias and feeding hawksbill turtles. Have a look as well into the blue, very often we see eagle rays passing by.

Batu Tengah

This dive site is located in the middle of the Komodo National Park, 12 nautical miles to the north and 12 nautical miles to the south. The translation of Batu = Rock, Tengah = Middle. With a slope to the east of the site and a coral garden to the west Batu Tangah is a beautiful site where we often get to see turtles, cuttlefish and juvenile white tip reef sharks that hide under the table corals among the hard coral garden. Napoleon wrasse and big groups of snapper swimming on the slope with all the colourful decoration of the soft coral make Batu Tengah a high quality dive site.

Day 10 Walk with dragons/Middle Area (2 dives)

Takat Makassar

This is an exhilarating drift dive along the shallow flat bottom interspersed with patches of coral reef teeming with life. There are chances to see manta rays, turtles, eagle rays and white tip and black tip reef sharks.

Siaba Besar

This spot is a nice combination with a white sand area where we can find some great critters as frogfishes, ghost pipefishes, devil scorpionfishes, upside down jellyfish and a big amount of flounders. On the hard coral area watch out for big green turtles, leaf scorpionfishes and pajama cardinalfishes.

Siaba Kecil

This little island offers a beautiful drift dive with some nice overhangs where sweetlips, snappers and trevallies can be found. After the drift we finish the dive in a pretty shallow staghorn coral area with hundreds of anthias and feeding hawksbill turtles. Have a look as well into the blue, very often we see eagle rays passing by.

Batu Tengah

This dive site is located in the middle of the Komodo National Park, 12 nautical miles to the north and 12 nautical miles to the south. The translation of Batu = Rock, Tengah = Middle. With a slope to the east of the site and a coral garden to the west Batu Tangah is a beautiful site where we often get to see turtles, cuttlefish and juvenile white tip reef sharks that hide under the table corals among the hard coral garden. Napoleon wrasse and big groups of snapper swimming on the slope with all the colourful decoration of the soft coral make Batu Tengah a high quality dive site.

Loh Buaya (walk with dragons)

Your day will end with an exciting visit to Komodo National Park where you will be able to take a stroll with the famous dragon! Take a look at our Komodo Dragon photo album here. As you walk along the paths, also stay on the lookout for deer, wild boar and birds in addition to the giant lizards. After the walk we move to the middle area of Komodo National Park.

Day 11 Disembarkation in Labuanbajo

Total dives: 28-29 dives

NORTH FORGOTTEN ISLANDS Ambon-Saumlaki 12 days-11 Nights

NORTH FORGOTTEN ISLANDS

12 Days/11 Nights Ambon – Saumlaki Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Ambon

Day 2 Ambon Bay (4 dives)

There are many terrific dive sites and even a shipwreck with massive quantities of fish and nice corals around enchanting Ambon Bay, a perennial favourite destination among divers simply for the staggering array of creatures that can be found here. There are even new discoveries of species still being made here such as the recently named psychedelic frogfish.

Some of the critters encountered here are wunderpus and mimic octopus, frogfish, zebra crabs and dozens of different nudibranchs. It seems as if all the members of the scorpionfish family are gathered here including spiny devilfish, stonefish, lionfish leaf fish and even Rhinopias. Another family group well represented here are moray eels and you can generally find snowflake, fimbriated and curious white-eyed morays residing in crevices or even gliding among the reefs.

A close look in the sand can reveal crocodile fish while a careful study of the gorgonians might surprise you with the sight of a pygmy seahorse. This area is also a good spot for catching a glimpse of ornate ghost pipefish and the extremely rare halimeda ghost pipefish.

Day 3 Nusa Laut / Pulau Molana (3 dives)

Molana Wall

We will do the first dive at Molana Island. This shallow wall breaks in places where you can find ribbon eels in the sandy slopes. On the wall look for small pipefish and moray eels. On the top of the reef turtles might be seen feeding in the beautiful coral gardens.

Amet Reef

Even though it is located only a few hours away from Ambon, Amet Reef at Nusa Laut presents quite different scenery and is the best example of the positive effects of a village taking care of its reef. The reef remains as unspoiled as it was hundreds of years ago. The locals have taken steps to protect it and the result is an outstanding site that is the favourite of many dive enthusiasts.

There are white tips and grey reef sharks patrolling the depths and playful turtles can be spotted as well. Look out for the big group of bumphead parrotfish munching on the reef. For the very lucky hammerhead sharks and dugongs have occasionally been spotted here. We will do two dives here before heading to the Banda Islands.

Day 4 Banda Islands (4 dives)

Most widely known as one of the main stops along the old spice route, the Banda Islands are an isolated group of islands in the midst of the wide expanses of the Banda Sea. The remoteness of these islands has given it a fascinating, colourful history, including the fact that it was once the only place in the world where nutmeg grew.
The diving here is usually fairly relaxing with mild current, good visibility and calm waters, but there are spots with strong currents. However, our experienced dive guides will of course properly brief you on the conditions to be encountered and will plan the dives according to divers’ experiences. Here is a list of possible dive sites:

Little Manhattan

On the island of Nailaka next to the island of Run is the dive site Little Manhattan. The reason for the name of the dive site is that in 1667 the English traded the small island of Run for Manhattan, giving the Dutch full control of the Banda archipelago. White sandy slopes interspaced with large coral heads and a healthy reef makes this dive site very beautiful. A resident school of Bumphead parrotfish may be spotted here and look out into the blue for a passing eagle ray.

Tanjung Noret

Tanjung Noret is on the south-west corner of Run island. Tanjung means corner and from the shallows the reef slopes down steeply into very deep water. There are gigantic gorgonian sea fans and sponges here. Drift along the slope with great visibility and enjoy the view of thousands of tiny reef fish darting in and out of the cracks and crevices. Look out into the blue once in a while for a chance to see hammerhead sharks.

Batu Kapal

Here there is a submerged pinnacle next to the main dive site which has a rock breaking the surface that is in the shape of a boat, hence the dive site name Batu (rock) Kapal (boat). Fish are present here in incredible numbers along with huge gorgonians and some truly monumental sponges. Look out for Napoleon wrasses in the deep and a very special fish only seen in the Banda Sea area, the soap fish.

Pohon Miring

At most sites in the Banda Islands, you will see enormous schools of fusiliers, thousands of redtooth triggerfish and hundreds of schooling pyramid butterflyfish. At this dive site there is a large crack in the reef that creates a deep swim-through. Drift through the hole and then enjoy the wall covered in sponges on the other side. On the top of the wall see many moray eels and perhaps a school of Bumphead parrotfish munching on the rocks.

Princes Reef

Princes Reef is just outside the bay of Banda Neira. It is a long reef covered with a myriad of sponges, usually decorated blue with hundreds of fusiliers. Ribbon eels can be found in the sandy patches and pygmy seahorses have been found on the sea fans here.

Lava Flow

A famous dive site in the Banda Islands it is at the bottom of a lava flow coming down from the peak of the Banda Api volcano. Underwater be amazed by the growth of hard coral when you take into account that the lava flowed into the sea in 1988, not so long ago. Staghorn coral gardens stretch off into the crystal blue water as far as the eye can see. One unusual coral formation to look out for here is table corals that have collapsed on to their sides but continue to sprout mini table corals off its flat edges.

Banda Jetty

The sunset dive in the harbour can prove to be one of the best sites in the world to see Mandarin fish. In the very shallow water, among the stones from old, collapsed sea walls and jetties live many Mandarin fish. We will jump in just before dusk and they will ‘walk’ around on the rocks right in front of you preparing for the nightly mating ritual. Be patient, you may get lucky and see them flutter up off the reef, cheek to cheek. If you’ve had enough of the Mandarin fish, the rocks and volcanic sandy bottom are also covered in other macro critters.

Day 5 Banda Neira Tour/Banda Islands (2-3 dives)

Intriguing remnants of the old lucrative spice trade are still present in Banda Neira and give a taste of colonial times. Explore Pulau Neira and spend the morning walking through its historic little town. The town is full of interesting houses dating back to the Dutch and English periods. There is also the well-preserved Fort Belgica with its fantastic views overlooking the waters around the island. We’ll visit a traditional nutmeg plantation where you will see nutmeg, cinnamon and clove trees nestled around the plantation farmer’s house. Enjoy a plantation tea under the shade of cocoa trees and try nutmeg jam, candies, cake and cinnamon biscuits. Take a look at our Banda Islands photo album here.

After the tour we will do two to three more dives in the Banda Islands departing on the length of the tour.

Day 6 Banda Islands (3 dives)

We will travel to the East side of Banda Neira to Hatta Island for our last dives in Banda Islands before heading south to Manuk.

Hatta Wall

At the top of this stunning wall and creating a gap in the reef is a hole that makes a huge swim-through. The tender will drop you up current of the hole and after a short drift along the reef-top you will drop down through the gap into a beautiful coral garden. Huge sea fans house pygmy seahorses and leaf fish rest among the soft corals. Once you have explored under the swim-through and enjoyed the view the dive continues along the wall. Finish your dive in the reef shallows with big coral heads where schools of batfish shelter.

Karang Hatta

This huge submerged reef south of Hatta Island creates a large dive site well worth two dives. The top of the reef is rocky and reef octopus and turtles can be seen here. Along the edge of the reef there are walls in some parts and steep slopes in others, dropping off into very deep water. As with the rest of the Banda Islands there are enormous sponges all along this reef. Look out into the blue, maybe there will be a ray or a shark passing by.

Days 7-11 Forgotten Islands

The Forgotten Islands are part of a remote archipelago in the southeast corner of the Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara). Despite the remote feeling in other parts of Indonesia (such as Alor or Banda), the Forgotten Islands are isolated even by Indonesian standards, covering a 1,000 km long chain of islands staring at Timor and extending up to West Papua. The Tanimbar group of around 65 islands that separate the Banda Sea from the Arafura Sea include the island of Yamdena where the capital Saumlaki is where this cruise begins.

There are many groups of islands in this area and the Forgotten Islands are relatively undiscovered and still being explored. The exact itinerary around these islands will depend exclusively on the weather and current conditions. Also, due to the big distances between island groups some of the days will include three day dives before heading off in the afternoon and travelling overnight. When the next location is closer and there are anchorage spots in sheltered bays we will offer a fourth dive, usually a night dive.

Dive sites in the Forgotten Islands are characterised by endless reefs and spectacular deep walls covered in soft corals, sea fans and huge sponges. These islands usually experience amazing visibility and warm water around 27-30C (81-86F). Here are the names of the islands we may visit (weather permitting) during your cruise, along with how many dives we will do if we stop there:

Manuk (3 dives)

The island of Manuk is the eastern-most volcano of Indonesia and presents two very unique highlights above and below the water. Topside, it is possible to revel in the spectacle of thousands of seabirds, including comical yet beautiful frigate birds and boobies. The sight is unforgettable. One of the few phenomena able to rival that display is the vision of a dozen sea snakes undulating and swimming underwater. Some divers have even been lucky enough to watch them hunting in a pack. It is thought that the warm geothermal vents present in these waters attract these cold-blooded creatures in large numbers. In addition to these singular wonders, the island’s reefs are also stunning and there is a good mix of coral-covered walls and slopes in all colours and sizes. Besides an outstanding variety of reef fish, you may also see some tuna, jacks and sharks.

Serua/Teun/Nila/Nil Desperandum

Teun, Nila and Serua, often referred to as TNS, are all small, very remote volcanic islands only accessible by liveaboard, located just east of Damar. You will feel as if you have reached the ends of the earth and that may be why there is a growing interest in diving in this zone. Although the sites here remain relatively unexplored, experiences so far have revealed tremendous diving potential and splendid coral reefs.

Pulau Serua (3-4 dives)

Serua is a group of islands between Manuk and Nil Desparandum. The big island of Serua has a small village with around 40 inhabitants. The smaller islands are called by the locals Keke Besar and Keke Kecil. Tanjung Keke is on the corner of Keke Besar. There is a ridge extending all around the island where maybe you can see hammerhead sharks. Also look for jacks, napoleon wrasses, groupers and schooling of fusiliers. Keke Reef is on the south side of the small island and between Keke Kecil and Keke Besar. There is a beautiful shallow plateau with very nice hard corals and then drops into a very deep wall. Alot of different fish can be seen on the wall with bumphead parrotfish, pinnate spadefish, blue-fin trevallies and schools of red tooth triggerfish, fusiliers and surgeon fish.
Nil Desperandum (3-4 dives)

Nil Desperandum means “don’t despair” possibly referring to a ship wrecked here centuries ago. It is a big atoll with very deep drop offs. Schooling sharks have been spotted in the deep here with a chance to see hammerhead, silky and grey reef sharks.

Nila/Dusborgh (3-4 dives)

Dusborgh is a submerged atoll with a surrounding reef that reaches all the way up to the surface. The reef then slopes steeply to deep walls. As with all of the Forgotten Islands the walls are covered in huge sponges and sea fans. With the amazing visibility keep an eye into the deep for passing pelagics. A small bay on the east side of the island of Nila has a night dive opportunity.

Dai Island (3-4 dives)

The villagers on this island still practice traditional hunting with bow and arrow. Steep slopes provide hunting grounds for schooling barracuda and trevally. Large sea fans on the reef are surrounded by very healthy reef fish life. The shallows here are full of hard corals decorated with anthias.

Dawera Island (4 dives)

This small island is in the northern part of the Babar group of islands. There is a seamount where the reef is untouched and so full of fish you won’t know where to look! Along the north side of the islands there are numerous wonderful dive sites ranging from Tanjung Raja where there are stunning soft corals to Sponge Delight where there is a huge resident school of barracudas and even a chance to see hammerhead sharks. The diving in this area is so good we may even stay an extra day.
On the last full day of the cruise there will be one or two dives depending on the flight times out of Saumlaki the next day.

Vaiwar Slope (1-2 dives)

At a little island called Vaiwar just outside of Saumlaki we will do our final two dives. Vaiwar Slope is mostly a critter hunt with a sandy and rocky slope extending out from the island. In the shallows there is a hard coral reef where juveniles such as the juvenile bi-color parrotfish can be found. Out in the sand we have spotted ghost pipefish, nudibranchs and even a mimic octopus!

Day 12 Disembarkation in Saumlaki

Total dives: 29-33 dives

KOMODO-SUMBAWA Labuanbajo-Bali 9 Days-8 Nights

KOMODO-SUMBAWA

9 Days/8 Nights Labuanbajo – Bali Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Labuanbajo

Day 2 Komodo-Flores Channel (4 dives)

Enjoy the diving in the beautiful and sometimes exhilarating channel formed by Komodo and Flores Islands. Currents in this area can be quite strong and we have to dive according to the tides. There are many dive sites and the sites chosen will be dependent on the currents. Komodo is an excellent place for spotting macro critters and the reefs and corals are spectacular too. See some photos here.

Sebayur Island

This island has a white sandy slope that turns into a mini wall. Look for leaf fish, ghost pipefish and a variety of nudis at the edge of the reef. Various nudibranchs, lionfish and moray eels make the wall their home. In the shallows the hard corals are decorated with anthias and we often find large cuttlefish and juvenile bicolour parrotfish. On the night dive look for Spanish dancers, crocodile fish and bobtail squid.

Tatawa Besar

This is a thrilling drift dive, starting at the north-western tip of Tatawa and continuing down the western side, reaching about 15 to 20 meters of depth. The fish life here is abundant and you will see an endless field of stunning orange soft corals as you glide along. Swim past coral heads inhabited by schools of sweetlips and batfish, and look out for turtles feeding on the reef. Mantas have been encountered here as well.

Tatawa Kecil

The West side of this small rocky outcrop presents a fantastic underwater terrain with enormous slabs of rock that have been worn down to form channels, canyons, caves and swim-throughs. On the north plateau crocodile fish lie on the scenic reef among a whole host of reef fish and schooling fusiliers.

Siaba Kecil

Here at Siaba Kecil we have a magnificent formation of hard coral from the shallows of the island till a depth of 20m/60ft. The current running from the south to north is the best way to dive this site. During the drift and also at the end of the drift we have a great chance to see green and hawksbill turtle feeding on the formation of hard coral, white tip reef sharks also can be seen here. Reef manta rays can occasionally swim by the coral garden of this site.

Batu Bolong

Underwater this rock is covered in a huge amount of soft and hard corals and full of fish life. In the shallows watch anemone fish and look out for turtles munching on the corals. Giant trevally, white tip reef sharks, snappers and emperor fish tend to congregate here. This site presents particularly good opportunities for both macro and wide-angle photography.

Batu Tengah

This dive site is located in the middle of the Komodo National Park, 12 nautical miles to the north and 12 nautical miles to the south. The translation of Batu = Rock, Tengah = Middle. With a slope to the east of the site and a coral garden to the west Batu Tangah is a beautiful site where we often get to see turtles, cuttlefish and juvenile white tip reef sharks that hide under the table corals among the hard coral garden. Napoleon wrasse and big groups of snapper swimming on the slope with all the colourful decoration of the soft coral make Batu Tengah a high quality dive site.

Wainilo

This afternoon and night dive is situated off the north of Rinca Island. In the shallows, the hard coral reef is home to many different critters, including juvenile harlequin sweetlips and batfish. Away from the reef, the sandy slope is scattered with pulsing soft corals that hide demon stingers and starry night octopus, plus a moray eel which has not yet been classified by scientists and is only found here in Wainilo.

Day 3 Walk with dragons / Padar Island (2 dives)

Loh Buaya (walk with dragons)

Your day will begin with an exciting visit to Komodo National Park where you will be able to take a stroll with the famous dragon! Take a look at our Komodo Dragon photo album here. As you walk along the paths, also stay on the lookout for deer, wild boar and birds in addition to the giant lizards. After the walk we move to Padar Island for two dives.

The water temperature here and in the southern dive sites over the next few days can be a little cooler dropping from the normal 28/29 degrees Celsius (82-84 Fahrenheit) to a possible 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). Also due to the infinite nutrients in the water creating the amazing biodiversity in this area the visibility can sometimes be a bit greener. Neither one of these factors can spoil the amazing diving to be had in these areas.

After the second dive we visit one of the most incredible beaches in the Komodo National Park. A short walk brings us to the pink sandy beach. During this walk we also have the opportunity to see enjoy incredible views of the National Park with the sunset.

Three Sisters

The site here are full of interesting and beautiful features, such as massive steps and huge towers of stone, all wrapped in hard and soft corals and dotted with nudibranchs, small caves and overhangs. Reef sharks and humphead parrotfish are among the bigger creatures we see in this area. There is also a towering coral spire with a small cave at the bottom, where huge lobsters are often found hiding. Look for the tiny lady bugs on the soft corals and the resident frogfish sitting in the sponges.

Secret Garden

Is one of the top dive sites at Padar Island. As the name of the dive site suggests it has a beautiful coral garden of black coral along a mini wall covered with soft corals. There is a resident school of mobula rays that seem to like swimming through the dive site giving good opportunities to the divers to see them. Nudibranchs, leaf fish, frogfish and the incredible sea apples can be seen here too.

Day 4 Rinca Island (4 dives)

Horseshoe Bay is in the south of Rinca Island and we spend the whole day here. Here we dive the famous Cannibal Rock, one of the top ten dives sites in the world according to some diving publications. Watch dragons, wild pigs, deer and monkeys roam the beach and take a tender ride or kayak to get a closer look.

Cannibal Rock

This outstanding dive site covers a large area with sandy slopes in the north, deep mini walls in the east, a plateau full of life in the south and rocky areas in the west. The nutrient rich bay creates the most spectacular congregation of hard and soft corals in all parts of the dive site. Sponges, ascidians, sea squirts and tube anemones are abundant. A great diversity of nudibranchs can be seen here, along with frogfish, turtles, cuttlefish and other reef fish too.

Yellow Wall of Texas

As the name suggests this wall at the southern entrance to Horseshoe Bay is covered in yellow and orange soft corals. A tiny critter, the ladybug, comes in its multitudes here. Nudibranchs decorate the wall that usually has a slight current enabling you to slowly drift along and enjoy the view.

The Boulders

Inside the bay and opposite Yellow Wall of Texas there are large rocks that continue underwater to create places for large rays to rest and even sometimes nurse sharks hide in these underwater crevices. The boulders are covered in corals becoming a paradise for marine life. The elusive Rhinopias have been found here before.

Torpedo Alley

A marvelous night dive named after the pancake sized torpedo rays that can be found here. Coconut octopus, seahorses, colourful squid and the bizarre bobbit worm all live in the black volcanic sand. A very shallow dive with a maximum depth of 10m/30ft, spend time looking for all the strange inhabitants among the rocks, soft corals and in the sand.

Day 5 Manta Alley / Pink Beach (4 dives)

Manta Alley is located on the south end of Komodo Island. After two dives looking for manta rays we head up to the middle of Komodo Island to the Pink Beach area.

Manta Alley

Manta Alley is located in Tora Langkoi Bay along the south coast of Komodo. The dive site in fact barely pierces the ocean’s surface at the end of a line of rock islets. As can be guessed from its name many manta rays are known to frequent this site and it is the most popular one in Komodo for spotting them. The area can be described as a deep gully that works as a funnel when the tide changes, causing the water to rush through at speeds of up to three to four knots with the fall and rise of the tides and up to one knot even during “slack water” periods. Watch the mantas being cleaned on the North side or enter the ‘Alley’ to see them hover effortlessly in the current.

Pink Beach

The simple topography makes this site an ideal afternoon dive. A mini wall can be found in the middle of the reef, where clouds of glassfish swarm in the cracks and crevices. An abundant amount of fish life and unusual critters make their home here, including leaf scorpionfish, crocodilefish, nudibranchs and frogfish. On one side of the wall is a sloping coral reef full of life. On the other is a sandy area with healthy staghorn corals growing and providing shelter for juvenile harlequin sweetlips and mandarin fish.

Loh Liang Bay

This white sand muck dive is around the corner from Pink Beach situated inside Loh Liang Bay on Komodo Island. Search for all sorts of critters here – bobtail squid, flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish, nudibranchs, Ambon scorpion fish, cockatoo waspfish and large moray eels living in the shallow rocks.

Day 6 Gili Lawa Laut / Komodo (4 dives)

Two celebrated dive sites await you, just north of Gili Lawa Laut Island. Crystal Rock and Castle Rock are both incredible locations, boasting the key elements for any impressive dive site: a wide variety of healthy corals covering the reef, plus tons of fish – both big and small and all sizes in between. Between the dives there may be a chance, depending on tides, to visit Gili Lawa Laut Island and take a short trek to the top of the hill for a wonderful view over the Komodo-Flores channel.

Crystal Rock

The rock jutting out of the surrounding crystal clear waters explains how this site got its name. But what is truly memorable here are the large schools of fusiliers and anthias flitting over the gorgeous soft corals and impressive table corals. In the deep blue, you can also see at times large tuna, mackerel and other fish schooling around a small mound to the northwest. A lone eagle ray is often spotted here cruising in the currents.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock is a submerged pinnacle situated a kilometre further north from Crystal Rock. Its exposed location means strong currents but experienced divers will love the thrills to be had on this dive. In fact, the main action comes from watching the staggering amount of fish such as batfish, groupers, midnight snappers and impressive schools of fusiliers and surgeons whipping past. Of course, divers aren’t the only ones interested in the huge amount of fish here, which explains the giant trevally as well as whitetips, blacktips and grey reef sharks hunting around for their next meal.

We will do two dives at Castle and Crystal Rock before going to Batu Montjo on Komodo Island for the third and night dive.

Batu Montjo

In the northwest of Komodo Island, Batu Montjo is a perfect site to dive as a third dive with a amazing formation of hard corals in the shallows. Many boulders covered with gorgonian sea fans lie in between the white sandy slopes. This combination of hard corals and gorgonian sea fans with all the fish swimming in between the coral garden makes for a perfect relaxing afternoon dive. Pygmy seahorses, leaf fish, jaw fish and turtles are often seen at this site. We have even seen manta rays passing by.
The night dive is on the sandy slope at Batu Montjo. Elusive stargazers hide in the sand, with only their big eyes and toothy snarl looking up into the stars. White V octopus, bobtail squid and ghost pipefish can also be found here.

Day 7 Sangeang Island (4 dives)

The island of Sangeang is located northeast of Sumbawa. It’s a fairly small island but you’ll notice it right away since most of its landscape consists of Gunung Api, an active volcano. This natural phenomenon has made for some amazing topography, such as steep ridges dripping with hardened lava. There are several excellent dive sites here, all with good visibility, allowing you to truly appreciate the healthy reefs of soft and hard corals as well as different types of anemones.

Hot Rocks

Here the volcano has left its mark below the surface as well. In the shallows observe volcanic bubbles escaping from the seabed through air vents. Put your hands close to the ‘hot rocks’ and feel the heat from the sulphur-covered rocks. Besides the usual tropical reef species ribbon eels, cowries and Bargibanti pygmy seahorses can also be seen here.

Lighthouse Reef

This site presents many contrasts in terms of natural features and marine life. Strong currents can prevail in the exposed areas but there are also sheltered spots. Down around 20 metres macro lovers will be delighted, as the base of the wall and large black sand slope is excellent for spotting countless nudibranchs and other colourful critters. Black coral bushes hide ghost pipefish and saw blade shrimps.

Black Diamond

The rocky formation up in the shallows with fingers of coral going to the deep are covered with black coral and crinoids in any colour you can imagine. The black sand acts as a background to all the colour of this dive site and the corals will stand out in a way that you’ve never seen before. Among the black coral we often get to see one of the most incredible masters of camouflage, the ornate ghost pipefish and as the name suggests any ghost pipefish are a plus for divers. Big reef octopus, peacock mantis shrimps and nudibranchs are also seen here.

Bontoh Reef

Is located in the west part of Sangeang volcano where we have incredible sunsets and for this reason Bontoh Reef is a perfect place to dive as a third dive and night dive. With a very shallow area of black sand and small rocks covered with algae that gently slope down, Bontoh offers one of the biggest populations of spaghetti garden eels coming out from the sand. Among the small rocks is the perfect place for creatures to hide from predators and photographers. Critters spotted here include painted frogfish, juvenile angelfish, mantis shrimps and while we are swimming out in the sand we have the chance to see the wunderpus or mimic octopus.
In between the third dive and the night dive there may be an opportunity to visit the small village of Bontoh. Here they are building a boat right there on the beach!

Day 8 Satonda / Moyo Island (1-2 dives)

On the last full day of the cruise there will be one or two dives depending on the weather conditions and also on the flight times out of Bali the next day. After the dives we will travel over 150 nautical miles back to Bali.

Satonda Reef

Underwater the sloping reef and sandy bottom hide a large array of critters. An early morning dive provides a great opportunity to search for giant frogfish nestled in the sponges, or mushroom coral pipefish snaking among the fronds of the mushroom coral. Nudibranchs, pipefish, even ghost pipefish and Bargibanti pygmy seahorses are regularly seen here.

Moyo is a small island, inhabited by around 6,000 people, located in the West Nusa Tenggara province off the northern coast of Sumbawa. There are spectacular coral formations and crystal clear waters that make for great diving.

Angel Reef

This site lies off the west coast of Moyo and consists of a healthy coral reef with a vertical wall dropping to over 40 meters / 120 feet in depth. Angel Reef has huge elephant ear and barrel sponges along the wall. It is teeming with long fin banner fish and red tooth triggerfish. Search the sea fans here for a chance to see the Denise pygmy seahorse.

Panjang Reef

Located just north of Angel Reef is the submerged coral reef of Panjang Reef – ‘long reef’. The huge coral garden plateau is covered with pulsing soft corals, surrounded by a sloping reef full of big sponges and healthy hard corals. Bargibanti pygmy seahorses, leaf scorpion fish, ribbon eels and sea snakes can all be seen here.

Day 9 Disembarkation in Bali

Total: 23–24 dives

CENTRAL FORGOTTEN ISLANDS Saumlaki-Saumlaki 12 days-11 Nights

CENTRAL FORGOTTEN ISLANDS

12 Days/11 Nights Saumlaki – Saumlaki Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Saumlaki

The Forgotten Islands are part of a remote archipelago in the southeast corner of the Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara). Despite the remote feeling in other parts of Indonesia (such as Alor or Banda), the Forgotten Islands are isolated even by Indonesian standards, covering a 1,000 km long chain of islands staring at Timor and extending up to West Papua. The Tanimbar group of around 65 islands that separate the Banda Sea from the Arafura Sea include the island of Yamdena where the capital Saumlaki is where this cruise begins.

There are many groups of islands in this area and the Forgotten Islands are relatively undiscovered and still being explored. The exact itinerary around these islands will depend exclusively on the weather and current conditions. Also due to the big distances between island groups some of the days will include three day dives before heading off in the afternoon and travelling overnight. When the next location is closer and there are anchorage spots in sheltered bays we will offer a fourth dive, usually a night dive.

Dive sites in the Forgotten Islands are characterised by endless reefs and spectacular deep walls covered in soft corals, sea fans and huge sponges. These islands usually experience amazing visibility and warm water around 27-30C (81-86F). Here are the names of the islands we may visit (weather permitting) during your cruise:

Days 2-4 Serua/Teun/Nila/Nil Desperandum

Teun, Nila and Serua, often referred to as TNS, are all small, very remote volcanic islands only accessible by liveaboard, located just east of Damar. You will feel as if you have reached the ends of the earth and that may be why there is a growing interest in diving in this zone. Although the sites here remain relatively unexplored, experiences so far have revealed tremendous diving potential and splendid coral reefs.

Close to the small island of Nila are two atolls Dusborgh and Nil Desperandum. Weather permitting, we will spend two days in this area, making a small bay on the east side of the island of Nila our base. There is also a night dive opportunity here.

Nila/Dusborgh (4-5 dives)

Dusborgh is a submerged atoll with a surrounding reef that reaches all the way up to the surface. The reef then slopes steeply to deep walls. As with all of the Forgotten Islands the walls are covered in huge sponges and sea fans. With the amazing visibility keep an eye into the deep for passing pelagics. A small bay on the east side of the island of Nila has a night dive opportunity.

Nil Desperandum (4-5 dives)

Nil Desperandum means “don’t despair” possibly referring to a ship wrecked here centuries ago. It is a big atoll with very deep drop offs. Schooling sharks have been spotted in the deep here with a chance to see hammerhead, silky and grey reef sharks.

Days 5-6 Pulau Damar/Nusleur/Terbang (6 dives)

Close to the big island of Damar the small islands of Nusleur, Terbang Utara and Terbang Selatan are surrounded by pristine beaches that stretch out to coral reefs that then drop down to the most beautiful, untouched walls. From top to bottom, the reef is an explosion of different colours and forms and seems to be in constant motion from the swarms of fish darting about. You may find yourself floating in the midst of a huge school of fish as the sea creatures here appear quite curious, perhaps because they are generally not used to seeing many divers. Another unique attraction in this area is the wall of sulphur formed as a result of its proximity to the volcano on Damar. There is a possibility to visit a village on Damar where there is also a black sand night dive.

Days 7 Dai Island (3-4 dives)

The villagers on this island still practice traditional hunting with bow and arrow. Steep slopes provide hunting grounds for schooling barracuda and trevally. Large sea fans on the reef are surrounded by very healthy reef fish life. The shallows here are full of hard corals decorated with anthias.

Days 8-9 Dawera Island (6-7 dives)

This small island is in the northern part of the Babar group of islands. There is a seamount where the reef is untouched and so full of fish you won’t know where to look! Along the north side of the islands there are numerous wonderful dive sites ranging from Tanjung Raja where there are stunning soft corals to Sponge Delight where there is a huge resident school of barracudas and even a chance to see hammerhead sharks. The diving in this area is so good we may even stay an extra day.

Days 10-11 Exploratory Diving (7 dives)

Days 12 Disembarkation in Saumlaki

Total dives: 30-34 dives