An amazing journey that starts in Ambon, visits the Banda Island and Raja Ampat and finishes in Sorong.
31 October to 11 November 2022
We are happy to announce another liveaboard trip for 2022 aboard the wonderful Samambaia. Our Banda Sea Raja Ampat cruise is an 11 nights trip running 31 October to 11 November 2022 from Ambon to Sorong. This itinerary is one of the best in Indonesia with incredible biodiversity. There are limited spaces available for this trip.
This trip starts in the city of Ambon, home of world class muck diving. The diving will start in this location in search of rhinopias, frogfish, and the infamous psychadelic frog fish. From there the boat will sail to Nusa Laut with it’s amazing hard corals, walls, and a chance to encounter hammerhead sharks. After an overnight cruise to the historic Banda Neira, enjoy two days of diving in around this amazing location. The Banda islands are home to a mix of wall dive, coral gardens, and amazing mandarin fish dives. From Banda the boat will make it’s way to the island of Koon on the far SE end of Seram Island. The dives here are electric with steep walls, big currents, and some of the biggest schools of fish in Indonesia.
After enjoying the diving in the Banda Sea, the boat will make it’s way to the Misool region of Raja Ampat. Misool is home to the most prolific and colourful soft corals in all of Indonesia. November is also the best time of year to experience the annual “sardine run” in Misool. Each year millions of these small fish cover many of the sites in the area. When these fish are schooling it attracts schools of mobula rays and other large predators close to the reef to feed. The timing of this phenomenon is never consistent, however, November is historically the best time to witness it. We will be staying in this area for several days, exploring the best sites that the area has to offer. Depending on conditions, the boat will either remain in the Misool area for the remainder of the trip or head toward the Dampier Strait.
The trip will finish in the city of Sorong on the 11th of November 2022. There are a variety of flight departures from Sorong to Jakarta, Manado, Surabaya, Bali, and Makassar for international connections.
The Samambaia is one of the best boats in the region and is fitted with all the features of a modern dive liveaboard. With a powerful marine engine, which can reach up to 10 knots cruising speed, it’s the best way to explore the Banda Sea. During the design process the focus was on the details which make it such a great boat. Functionality is paired with aesthetics and quality materials. The layout of the ship was built around the needs of the guests. Comfort and service are of highest priority on board, while the atmosphere is relaxed and cozy. The boat offers many areas for both social activity and private time. A large sundeck is available which has a removable shade cover when the sun gets too hot.
The food on the boat is fantastic with a variety of western and Indonesian dishes. Fresh coffee is always avaialable from a top notch espresso machine. Soft drinks and water are available in the salon 24 hours per day. Beer is also available once diving is done, wine and cocktails are available but not included.
Arrival with plane to Ambon. You will be picked up by crew members at the airport.
Embarkation in the port of Ambon. A general orientation follows.
After an initial general dive briefing, we will do our check dive with you at an easy and
protected dive site. Check dive in the sense of you checking your gear and weights, making
sure the camera housings are proper sealed and our guides checking your buoyancy. No
skill demonstrations are required. We will thereafter offer two more dives in the bay of
Ambon. One in the afternoon and one for sunset. All of these days will be muck dives. World
class critter hunting. That’s what Ambon is famous for. Rhinopias, Frogfish, Ghostpipefish,
Harlequin Shrimps and if you are really lucky: the Psychedelic Frogfish that has been very
recently found here again.
In the early morning we will arrive at the island of Nusa Laut, which is a great example for
how active conservation by the local community can not only preserve the reefs but actually
make them even better. We see here for many years a proper growth in biomass.
We have four spectacular dive sites here, either wall or slope diving. Great variety of reef fish
as well as large schools of jacks. Bumphead Parrotfish like to pass by here also. A lot of
macro life can be found in the wall as well.
The famous Spice Islands, the island group around Banda Neira, which is also historically
very interesting. Wars were fought over these islands by colonial powers as these islands
used to be the only islands in the world were nutmeg grew. A historical walk through the
town of Banda Neira with it’s museum and two forts is a must. An interesting option for
ambitious challenge seekers is to climb the vulcano Gunung Api, which raises ‘only’ 600 m
above sea level. Which in the tropics however turns into a strenuous climb.
The diving here is very diverse and spectacular. As these volcanic islands raise up to the
surface surrounded by deep sea water, the chances for sightings of large pelagics are very
good. In the past we’ve often encountered schooling hammerheads here. A dive site called
‘Lava Flow’ is one of the most pristine hard coral reefs you will ever see. After the last
eruption of Gunung Api in 1988 a flow of lava made it’s way down into the ocean and
destroyed the whole reef. What has grown back ever since will boggle your mind. In the
harbour of Banda Neira we’ve got a beautiful Mandarin Fish dive waiting for you. Other
highlights include: ‘The Cathedral’, ‘Batu Kapal’ and ‘Karang Hatta’.
At the south-eastern tip of Seram there is a little island named Koon. It’s basically three dive
sites in one, performing best always at one spot, depending on the current. The name of the
site says it all: ‘Too Many Fish’. You will have a hard time to focus on what to look at. A fish
soup of Fusiliers and Surgeonfish is divided by hunting Giant Trevallies and Jacks, enormous
Giant Groupers are all of a sudden looking at you whilst a school of hundreds of Batfish is
passing by. Mobula and Manta rays might fly by. Leopard Sharks like to relax in overhangs
of the wall on the north side. Macro life is plenty as well. Hairy Shrimp, Pygmie Seahorses,
Tiny Frogfish, Robust Ghostpipefish. This dive site literally has it all.
After two dives in before lunch we will head north towards Raja Ampat whilst on the way we
will do a wall dive along the pretty walls of Madorang.
Coming into Raja Ampat from the south, we start our diving here around the islands of SE
Misool. The first dive site we reach is called ‘Magic Mountain’. Yes. It is magic. Situated in a
‘No-Take-Zone’, which was ten years ago established by our friends of the Misool Eco
Resort, the amount of biomass is just off the scale. Blacktip, Whitetip and Grey Reef Sharks.
Napoleon Wrasses. Stonefish. Wobbegong Sharks. Barracudas. Not to forget about the
Mantas who come in to get cleaned. You will have a hard time focussing on a particular
scene on this reef. It’s happening everywhere. Magic!
We will offer two more day dives around the eastern part of the island of Boo. One of the
signature dive sites of this area is ‘Boo Windows’ – a spectacular swim through gave the dive
site it’s fame, the marine life surrounding it will keep us busy watching during the whole dive.
Another great dive site in this area is ‘Hidung Boo’ where you might sea the biggest sea fans
you’ve ever seen in your life.
Right in the heart of the No-Take-Zone. ‘Tank Rock’, ‘Nudi Rock’ & ‘Whale Rock’ are the
famous and commonly dived sites here. There is five more dive sites in the very proximity
which are as good, if not even better. We prefer to go a bit off the beaten track here.
The reefs are covered in soft coral in all colours you can imagine. Surrounded by most
colourful reef fish. More Fusiliers than one could possibly count. Jacks, Trevallies,
And if you happen to dive here on a day with bad visibility. Just face the reef. It’s packed
with macro life. Several species of Pygmy Seahorses, Nudibranchs, tiny Crustaceans – every
niche in these reefs is filled with life.
This is a very exciting part of SE Misool. A lot of life and colours. Combined with a very
special topography. Caverns, caves, swim thru’s. And if you happen to hit this area at the
right time (which changes every season) you will find yourself amidst a bloom of small silvery
fish, Silversides, and the hunters are just nearby: Mobula Rays. In the dozens.
There’s four popular dive sites here. We’ve got another six spots that are hardly ever dived.
A nice big variety to pick and choose from.
The dive- and snorkel sites in the Dampier Strait stand for action packed dives in our
favourite kind of fish soup – the one that is still alive and surrounds us in the water.
Encounters with Manta Rays are very common here. The reef of the island of Kri is the
current world record holder with the highest number of fish species ever counted by a
scientist in a single dive – Dr. Gerry Allen came up with 374 different fish species counted.
Again: in one single dive.
Dive sites here are exposed to current so it’s all about the right timing to get the most out of
it. And we know how to time it here.
Popular dive sites here: ‘Kap Kri’, ‘Chicken’, ‘Sardine’, ‘Mike’s Point’ and ‘Blu Majik’.
Towards the end of the week and the end of the cruise for some other liveaboards it can get
a bit busy here. We don’t like that and therefore move away to some sites less dived yet very
attractive. A WW 2 plane wreck. ‘Larry’s Promise’. Wruzwarez Slope. There is many
possibilities. And to conclude our in-water activities we aim to snorkel with feeding Mantas.
On our way back our crew will keep an eye out onto the ocean for you and alert you in time
for whale and dolphin encounters. Which are quite common here. As long as you are on the
watch out. and we are…
Depending on your flight schedule, our crew will check your luggage in for you in advance so
you can rest on board and let us shuttle you to the airport when your plane is ready to leave.
If the dates for this trip are not right for you, don’t worry, we plan lots of trips. Please check out our Upcoming Trips page for all the latest trips or subscribe to our Newsletter at the bottom of the page. We announce all of our latest trips plus special offers via our Newsletter.
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Underwater Tribe group trips are always led by either Mike Veitch or Luca Vaime and sometimes both of us!