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Raja Ampat & Spice Islands

Departs Darwin & Biak13 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $11,790.00* PP

The rich history and diverse marine life of Raja Ampat and Spice Islands are brought to life on a Coral Expeditions voyage. Aboard Coral Adventurer retrace the ancient trade routes of spice merchants trading Chinese silks for cloves, Indian cotton for nutmeg and Arabian coffee for pepper. Explore some of the hundreds of rarely visited islands of Raja Ampat whose waters harbour over 75% of the world’s coral and fish species. At Cenderwasih Bay, swim with the gentle whale sharks – the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate – in what guests describe as a ‘once in a lifetime experience.’ Walk through vibrant village markets unchanged for hundreds of years. Experience a traditional welcome at Banda Neira where our ship is serenaded by kora kora canoes. Enjoy the view over sunset drinks at 17th century Dutch Fort Belgica. Climb atop Mount Pindito to marvel at one of the world’s most photographed marine scenes: the jagged green limestone cliffs and crystal clear water of Wayag.

  • Indulge with three days in spectacular Raja Ampat, the famed ‘Four Kings’ archipelago
  • Swim in the turquoise waters of Yapap natural pool
  • Discover Wayag’s ‘gumdrop’ islands and be rewarded by the view from Pindito Peak
  • Swim with the gentle and majestic whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay, the world’s largest fish
  • Be welcomed to Banda Neira by the exciting spectacle of the traditional Kora Kora canoes
  • Explore the ancient kingdoms fought over by English, Dutch, and Portuguese explorers
  • Learn the customs & cultures of West Papua and Indonesia, and experience local culture, including traditional dances, handicrafts and fresh local food

Itinerary

Coral-Expeditions_Spice-Islands_Raja-Ampat_Darwin-&-Biak_13-Nights

The following itinerary shows departing Darwin and arriving Biak. For the opposite direction, the itinerary is in reverse. 

Darwin Port

Embark Darwin: Board at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 7:30 am for 9:30 pm departure. Spend the afternoon becoming acquainted with all the facilities onboard as we cruise northwards towards the Spice Islands.

Embark Biak: An optional charter flight is available from Darwin, check in at 6:00 am for a 8:00 am departure accompanied by our Expedition Team. On arrival in Biak, enjoy lunch at Asana Hotel, before a guided tour of the historic Binsari Caves. Embark Coral Adventurer in Biak at 4:00pm for a 5:00pm departure.

As dusk falls, join your fellow travellers at the Captain’s Welcome this afternoon, while your Expedition Team shares about of the extraordinary things you will encounter on your voyage.

Spend a luxuriant sea day at leisure as we cross the Timor Sea towards Banda Neira. Join our Expedition Team in the Lounge for an insightful introduction to Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands as well as safety procedures and protocols while visiting Indonesia. After dinner, a movie or documentary will be featured.

Coral Expeditions Spice Islands

The Banda archipelago is the historic heart of the spice trade and was once the world’s only source of nutmeg until the mid-19th century as Portuguese, Dutch and English fought for control over the spice trade. The ten volcanic islands have attracted traders and merchants for at least 2,000 years as highly sought-after goods such as cloves, textiles, batik and rice were moved through Banda.

The Banda Islands are lushly vegetated with tropical flora including the Myristica Tree (nutmeg) while the Banda Sea’s underwater lava flow reefs are popular for scuba diving and snorkelling.

On our approach to Banda Neira, witness the outline of Gunung Api volcano with its thin plume of smoke often rising from the summit. Admire the photo-worthy spectacle of Moluccan paddlers propelling kora kora canoes with their elaborately carved figureheads.

Snorkel and dive over the nearby lava flow reef system or explore ashore and enjoy local tea and snacks on the waterfront.

Later in the afternoon, there is time to explore Fort Belgica, built by the first Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1611. The pentagonal shaped fort is extremely well preserved and provides an interesting insight into Dutch colonisation. Join the locals for a traditional dance and music performance before enjoying a glass of sparkling wine as the sun sets over the fort.

This morning, choose to explore the streets of Banda Neira on a guided tour, spotting colourful local houses and meeting friendly children before visiting a local nutmeg plantation to gain a fascinating insight into the spice that started it all. Alternatively, snorkelling over the nearby lava flow system will reward with spectacular colourful coral and fish species. You may spot Dogtooth tuna, mobula rays, or some of the largest population of Napoleon Wrasse in Indonesia.  After lunch we farewell Banda Neira.

Continue to explore Banda Neira on a guided tour before visiting a local nutmeg plantation to gain a fascinating insight into the spice that started it all. Alternatively, snorkelling over the hearby lava flow system will reward with spectacular colourful coral and fish species. After lunch, cruise to nearby Hatta Island within the Banda archipelago to enjoy exceptional snorkelling and diving just 5m from shore with turtles, dolphins and plenty of fish for company. Stroll through the village and visit a pepper and nutmeg plantation.

Fort Duurstede

We start the day arriving early at Molana Island whose history stretches back to the Portuguese colonial era. This uninhabited private island is home to 85 species of trees, Pacific Monitor Lizards (Varanus Indicus), Moluccan Scrubfowl (Megapodius Reinwardtii) and Coconut Crabs. The island still contains the ruins of a hospital built by the Dutch, whose construction was interrupted by the Japanese occupation in World War II. Snorkelers can take advantage of the shallow corals and clear water with easy viewing of unique corals and plentiful fishes. Experienced divers may see an underwater cave that connected to a well in the centre of the island.

After brunch, we head East to nearby Saparua Island where we are welcomed by singing school children. The area holds an important spot in history books which we learn at Fort Duurstede, a 17th- century Dutch fort with a complicated backstory that spans centuries. Here men and boys give us their war dance with shields, swords, and cultural adornment. This is a location of cultural immersion and learning.

kofiau island

In the middle of the Banda Sea, Sawai village is on Seram Island and is one of the oldest villages in the Maluku Islands. The village is in a beautiful setting with simple homes built on stilts over the ocean. We will spend the day immersed in the crystal-clear waters and snorkelling over reefs. The islands is popular for birdwatchers with 118 known species including colourful Eclectus parrots, purple-naped lory and salmon-crested cockatoo which are all endemic to Seram Island.

This is our final stop in the Spice Islands as we make our way to the natural playground of Raja Ampat.

Day 7 Wayag (14)10

Our introduction to the beautiful natural playground of Raja Ampat is at Misool, one of the four largest islands. Raja Ampat means the ‘Four Kings’ which refers to four main islands: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, in an archipelago comprising over 1,500 smaller islands.

At Misool we visit Balbulol Lagoon, an almost landlocked inlet populated with conical-shaped islets undercut at sea level that rise from turquoise waters like Christmas Trees. There is time to swim and kayak amongst the islands in this beautiful lagoon.

We visit another similarly spectacular waterway at Yapap, considered one of the best natural pools in the world. This vast primordial pool is dotted with dramatic limestone formations which look more like chess pieces than rocks. The turquoise Yapap sea has such clarity that grains of sand and coral reefs on the seabed are visible from the surface. We also visit heart-shaped Dafalen Love Lake which can be viewed from up high with a climb to the summit of nearby cliffs. Swimming and diving in these pristine waters is an undisputed highlight of our Raja Ampat adventures.

coral-expeditions-wayag-island-raja-ampat

At Kofiau Island we are welcomed by village dancers from their traditional boats before leading us ashore at Deer Village (also known as Kampung Deer). Local guides show us through their village before we board a local longboat which takes us to another village, Kampung Awat. Here we enjoy a traditional Sasi Opening Ceremony and a barbeque on the beach. Sasi is a traditional ceremony to preserve the ecosystem and effectively limits the catch of particular marine species during a designated period. After lunch, we snorkel and swim in the ocean and pay visit to more vibrant villages.

Snorkelling from the Xplorer tender over coral

Known for an incredible diversity of tropical fish and coral species, Aljui Bay is one of the best diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Spend the morning exploring the colourful underwater environment, searching for unusual coral formations, and spotting marine species. Over a satisfying lunch, cruise to Kawe where we celebrate crossing the equator! Go ashore to see the equator maker, and then visit an abandoned tin mining settlement. There may be a final opportunity for a refreshing dip in the warm tropical waters, before returning to your ship.

coral-expeditions-gam-rainforest-walk

More Raja Ampat treasures await today as we explore the magnificent waterways and lagoons by Xplorer and Zodiac boats with time to swim in crystal clear waters and walk upon white-sand beaches amongst the many islands.

After lunch, there is an opportunity for an energetic hike up to famed Pindito Peak, with hikers rewarded by panoramic views over the island and its spectacular lagoon. Alternatively, you can choose to relax by swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or a guided glass bottom boat tour.

A couple enjoying time at sea from the Xplorer Deck

Leaving Raja Ampat in our wake, we enjoy a luxuriant, relaxed day at sea as we make our way towards Cenderawasih Bay on the north coast of Papua.

Join our Expedition Leaders and Guest Lecturers in the Lounge for an informative presentation on the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay. Reaching between 9m and 12m in length and weighing up to 12,500kg, whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. Drawn to the fishing platforms of local fishermen, there are few other places in the world where these magnificent creatures congregate.

Coral Expeditions Ghizo Island

Depending on the weather and conditions, today we will enjoy either Roon Island or Auri Island.

Cenderawasih Bay (translates to Bird of Paradise Bay), hosts an incredible array of marine biodiversity. The largest marine park in Indonesia, Teluk Cenderawasih National Park protects a rich marine ecosystem, and covers an area of more than 14,500 square kilometres and is home to whale sharks, dugongs, dolphins as well as over 200 known species of fish and 150 species of coral.

One of the highlights of Roon Island is the wreckage of a Japanese Zero fighter plane lying in shallow water and is visible to snorkellers when the weather co-operates. The wreck has become a marine habitat and sports large corals, gorgonian fans as well as large populations of lionfish, surgeonfish, and turtles amongst other marine life.

To reach Auri Island, we will navigate through picturesque island scenery before enjoying beach activities, swimming, and snorkelling in this striking location.

Swimming with a Whale Shark

The biodiversity hotspot of Cenderawasih Marine Park attracts a significant population of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea. Cenderawasih Bay is one of the few places worldwide where it’s possible to swim with this endangered species. There is no guarantee that whale sharks will materialise on cue – if they do, we may have the chance to snorkel amongst them. Eyeballing these enormous fish, which are completely harmless and can grow to the length of a bus, is an experience you won’t forget!

Later, we will visit Kwatisore village with local guides and learn about West Papuan customs, cultures and the traditional lifestyles of the people. You will notice the difference in dancing, adornment and musical instruments of the West Papuan people in comparison to customs and culture of earlier islands visited in Raja Ampat and Spice Islands.

coral-expeditions-biak-darwin-march-2016

Disembark Biak: After an early morning arrival into Biak at 6:00 am, disembark to visit the historic Binsari Caves before your 12:00 noon charter flight to Darwin (at an additional cost of $850 – indicative price as of 1 March 2022).

Disembark Darwin: Arrive in Darwin at 8:00am, to disembark at 10:00 am.

Charter Flight: An optional post-cruise charter flight from Biak to Darwin is available (at an additional cost of $850 – indicative price as of 1 March 2022). Contact our reservations team to book.

For our Biak to Darwin voyage direction, the optional charter flight is available pre-cruise.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.



Fares & Availability

Bridge Deck Balcony Suite

Private Balcony - 55.8m2

Fully Booked

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

Fully Booked

Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

Fully Booked

Promenade Deck Stateroom

Picture Window - 17m2

Fully Booked

Coral Deck Stateroom

Porthole Window - 17m2

Fully Booked
Join the Waitlist

Bridge Deck Balcony Suite

Private Balcony - 55.8m2

Fully Booked

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

Fully Booked

Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

Fully Booked

Promenade Deck Stateroom

Picture Window - 17m2

Fully Booked

Coral Deck Stateroom

Porthole Window - 17m2

Fully Booked
Join the Waitlist

Prices are per person twin share, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD).  Booking Terms & Conditions >
For solo traveller rates see our Solo Traveller Program >

Additional Information

Inclusions

  • An authentic, flexible expedition itinerary
  • Comprehensive and fully guided sightseeing in each destination
  • Snorkelling & equipment (SCUBA diving at additional cost)
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
  • Expert Expedition Team and Guest Lecturers
  • Lectures, workshops and demonstrations onboard
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Selected wines, beers, and spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access
  • 24-hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Tips and gratuities

Not Included

  • Pre and post flights & accommodation
  • Pre-cruise Transfers
  • Entry visas & travel permits
  • Travel insurance
  • Scuba diving rates
  • Alcoholic drinks including beer and wine outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Internet services (available at a cost)
  • Laundry service
  • Australian entry visas or travel permits
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry charges, souvenir purchases, phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of included drinks package)
Your-Ship-Coral-Adventurer-Spice
More-Information-Kayak

Articles You Might Be Interested In

Raja Ampat Coral Reef

Best Day On Expedition: Snorkelling Banda Neira – By Joan Winston

Corals from the Raja Ampat Archipelago, Indonesia, to South-East Cape, Tasmania. By Dr. Terry Done

Wayag Raja Ampat John Hicks

Best Day On Expedition: Wayag, Raja Ampat. By John Hicks

Voyage Log: Raja Ampat & Spice Islands

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