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Cenderawasih Bay

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Raja Ampat & Spice Islands | Biak - Darwin | 13 Nights

Raja Ampat, Whale Sharks & Spice Islands

13 Nights | Departs Biak 1 April 2023 | Arrives Darwin

The rich history and diverse marine life of the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat are brought to life on Coral Expeditions’ voyages. 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 1,500 rarely visited islands of Raja Ampat whose waters harbour over 75% of the world’s coral and fish species. At Cenderawasih 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 Naira 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.

Our Indonesia and Raja Ampat voyages offer some of the most spectacular combinations of history, marine life, and natural beauty to be found on any expedition voyage.

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Expedition Highlights

  • See Banda’s kora kora Canoes welcome you into Banda Neira
  • Dive into history on the fabled Spice Island of Banda Neira with its Belgica Fort
  • Enjoy the amazing underwater snorkelling and diving at the islands of Raja Ampat
  • Snorkel and swim with the magnificent whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay
  • Experience local culture, including traditional dances, handicrafts and fresh local food

 

Fares

CORAL ADVENTURER TWIN SHARE PER PERSON SOLE USE*
Bridge Deck Balcony Suite $26,520 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $20,660 n/a
Explorer Deck Stateroom $18,890 $28,335
Promenade Deck Stateroom $14,160 $21,240
Coral Deck Stateroom $11,790 $17,685

Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST. *Limited sole use occupancy available

Itinerary

Embark: Board at Biak at 4:00 am for 5:00 pm departure.
Disembark: Arrive at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 10:30 am to disembark at 12:30 pm.

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.

Day 1: Depart Biak

coral-expeditions-biak-darwin-march-2016

A charter flight is available from Darwin, departing 8:00 am 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.

Roon or Auri Island

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. There is also a visit to a local village where we will enjoy a traditional dance and music performance. Villagers turn out adorned with body paint and dressed in colourful costumes with grass skirts, shells, and beads along with elaborate headdresses.

Cenderawasih Bay & Kwatisore Village

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.

At Sea

A couple enjoying time at sea from the Xplorer Deck

Leaving Cenderawasih Bay in our wake, enjoy a luxuriant, relaxed day at sea as we make our way towards spectacular Raja Ampat.

Join our Expedition Leaders and Guest Lecturers in the Lounge for an informative presentation on the incredible biodiversity of the ‘Birds Head’ – Raja Ampat.

Wayag Island - Raja Ampat

coral-expeditions-gam-rainforest-walk

Arrive in the beautifully wild Raja Ampat region, with our first stop at Wayag Island. This natural treasure is nature at its most vibrant both above and below the water, with emerald karst islands rising from the brilliant turquoise water.  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, where you’ll be rewarded with 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.

Aljui Bay, Raja Ampat

Snorkelling Reef with Coral Expeditions

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.

Kofiau Island - Raja Ampat

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, visit other villages and keep an eye out for the striking red bird-of-paradise which is distinguished by its emerald-green face and crimson red plumes that fall elegantly from each breast.

Misool & The Stone Gardens Of Misool - 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.

More than 1,000 prehistoric petroglyphs estimated up to 5,000 years old have been discovered at Misool. These ochre rock paintings, which depict human figures, canoes, sharks and dolphins as well as abstract images thought to symbolise fertility.

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.

Sawai - Spice Islands

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. Our first stop in the Spice 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 as well as exploring ashore the grand cliffs and valleys of Manusela National Park. The park 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.

Molana Island & Saparua Island - Spice Islands

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. Residing in a large reef cluster that emerges to the surface makes for rich marine life surrounding the island. 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.

BANDA NEIRA & HATTA ISLAND - SPICE ISLANDS

Snorkel Rumwakon Reef Pulau

This morning snorkel and dive over the nearby lava flow reef system, rich in colour and variety of fish species, or you may like to travel through the streets of Banda Neira, past the remnants of mansions constructed during Dutch colonialism on a town tour. After lunch we farewell Banda Neira and head for nearby Hatta Island within the Banda Archipelago.

Hatta Island offers exceptional snorkelling and diving at the edge of the reef just 5m off the shoreline. Admire vibrant corals and sea creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours home to turtles, dolphins, sea horses, great coral gardens and plenty of fish. There is time to take a guided walk through the village, visit school children, and to explore a plantation of Pepper Trees and Nutmeg Trees.

Banda Neira - Spice Islands

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 champagne as the sun sets over the fort.

Crossing the Timor Sea

At Sea

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.

Day 13: Arrive in Darwin

Darwin Port

Arrive in Darwin at 10:30am, to disembark at 12:30 pm.

April 2023

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
01 April 2023 01 Apr 2023 14 April 2023 14 Apr 2023 $11,790 to $20,660 $11,790 to $20,660 Coral Adventurer Available Book

Your cruise price includes:

  • 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

Your cruise price does not include:

  • Pre and post flights & accommodation
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • SCUBA diving
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras in some destinations

Tipping not required

Other cruise lines automatically add gratitudes to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. At Coral Expeditions our crew have no other agenda than your delight.

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email explore@coralexpeditions.com

Travel Insurance:

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. Please refer to our Pre-Departure page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers.

Additional Information:

Following your expedition, you will receive a link by email to free download the images taken throughout your voyage by our Expedition Team. Please make sure that you have provided our reservations team with your relevant email address.

Countries Visited/ Currency Accepted:

Indonesian Rupiah (Currency is IDR) – Main opportunity to purchase will be at Bandaneira for some pearls.

Languages Spoken/ Dress Codes & Etiquette:

Bahasa Indonesian and English are spoken here. The dress etiquette will be smart casual.

Snorkel Opportunities:

These opportunities are a guide and not all are guaranteed.* There will be approximately 11 opportunities, at:

  • Banda Neira Lava Flow
  • Hatta Island Drop Off Snorkel
  • Molana Reef
  • Sawai
  • Misool Island
  • Kofiau Island
  • Aljui Bay
  • Kawe
  • Auri
  • Roon
  • Cenderawasih Bay (Swim with the Whalesharks)

Hike/Walk Opportunities:

Our Expedition Team will advise walking conditions and fitness requirements prior to each excursion.  There are several easy walking options available on this departure, at locations including

  • Banda Neira
  • Hatta Island
  • Saparua Island
  • Kofiau Island
  • Kawe Island
  • Auri Island
  • Roon Island
  • Kwatisore Village
  • Biak

Suggested Readings:

  • Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Wiltoa
  • Spice Islands by Ian Burnet
  • Where Australia Collides with Asia by Ian Burnet
  • Rings of Rice: An Indonesian Odyssey by L & L Blair
  • Diving Indonesia’s Birds Head Seascape by Burt Jones
  • To the Bitter End by Lex McAulay

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