Arrive Singapore and transfer to your included hotel for a chance to relax before dinner and overnight.
This morning return to the airport for your flight to Manado. On arrival a tour acquaints you with the capital city of North Sulawesi, and visit the open air produce market and the North Sulawesi Provincial Museum where a local guide presents the history of the region. This afternoon board the Odyssey.
Bunaken lies off the coast of Manado and encompasses more than 185,000 acres of crystal clear waters. The biodiversity here is phenomenal and its coral reefs are considered as some of the best in Indonesia. Established as a national marine park in 1991, Bunaken surrounds a cluster of small islands whose beaches offer easy access to some of the park’s shallow reefs. During your day here, explore both above and below the waters, snorkeling or diving among kaleidoscopic reefs, investigating walls covered in colorful soft corals, and viewing the amazing invertebrate community that includes an abundance of sea lilies (or crinoids), sea stars, anemones, sponges, and sea urchins.
Tiny volcanic Ternate is situated just west of Halmahera. This island was once, along with its neighbor Tidore, the only source of cloves in the world. Caught between the tug of the Dutch and Portuguese for its spicy riches, Ternate offers fascinating cultural and historical sites including two impressive forts. After a stop at the local market, enjoy a traditional cultural performance.
More than 1,500 karst limestone islands make up the majestic archipelago of Raja Ampat. The marine environment here, known as the Bird’s Head Seascape, is heralded as the most biodiverse on earth and includes 75 percent of all known coral species and more than 1,220 types of reef fish. Spend three days enjoying this unsurpassed coral wonderland and abundant marine life that calls it home. Birders go ashore to look for species such as the red bird of paradise, sulphur-crested cockatoo, beach kingfisher, varied honeyeater, spice imperial pigeon, and singing starling in the dense forests.
A breathtaking coastline of natural bays, tiny islets, pristine rain forest, and soaring mountains surrounds MacCluer Gulf. Dozens of local seafaring tribes populate the shores. In the morning Zodiacs weave among clusters of mushroom-shaped limestone islets where rock ledges protect outstanding displays of ancient Papuan rock art. Then go ashore to visit Kokas, strongly fortified by the Japanese during WWII, and today a prosperous fishing town of 3,000 residents. A cultural heritage presentation includes the traditional gabagaba, or stick dance.
The spectacular Mommon Peninsula is covered in forest often veiled in wisps of cloud. A strong river empties into the sea as a beautiful waterfall and, if tides permit, you may land on a small nearby beach. Snorkeling and diving reveal huge and colorful soft corals fed by channels teeming with fish.
This afternoon the ship drops anchor off Aiduma Island for snorkeling and diving in the aquamarine waters. Dazzling soft coral “forests” teem with colorful reef fish, including dinner plate-sized blue-ring angelfish, six-bar angelfish, and lionfish.
Ten thousand square miles of mangrove forest, bamboo, and sago palms have long sheltered the Asmat region from outsiders. At high tide the ship enters the shallow channel of the Flamingo River to anchor for the night near the village of Agats, the regional capital of the Asmat.
A remote riverine world is revealed as Zodiacs carry you along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests, home to Torres Strait imperial pigeons, sulphur-crested cockatoos, and bright red lorikeets. As you make your way upstream, villagers—whooping and chanting in elaborate warrior gear and war paint—paddle vigorously toward you in intricately carved canoes. You are escorted ashore, where enthusiastic welcomes await. A walk along elevated wooden boardwalks leads to a cathedral with superb carvings, and the museum with displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, a reminder that cannibalism was practiced by the ancestors of some villagers. Asmat woodcarvings are known for their powerful lines and coarse, expressive motifs, and are widely considered by collectors and scholars to be among the world’s finest. With our anthropologist helping you to communicate, you have the opportunity to purchase carvings directly from village artisans.
Enjoy a relaxing day and attend informative lectures as you sail into the Torres Strait.
Australia’s northernmost point, Thursday Island lies in the strategic Torres Strait. Settled in the late 19th century, its early fame rested on pearling by Japanese fishermen. During WWII, Australian and American troops were stationed at the base here. Explore the small sleepy town and take in the sweeping view from Green Hill Fort, built in 1893, then return to the ship for lunch. There is free time this afternoon to explore on your own.
Ashmore Reef, a fully submerged reef, is a vast atoll-like ring that encloses a deep lagoon. Make an expedition stop here today to snorkel or dive in this rich marine environment.
This morning disembark in Port Moresby and visit the National Museum and Arts Center, exhibiting one of the finest collections of primitive art in the world. After lunch check in to your included hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure before dinner and overnight.
Board your independent flight to Brisbane this morning and connect with your homeward flight.