After boarding Coral Discoverer, depart Darwin on the start of your great South Pacific adventure. Take the opportunity to settle in and explore the ship before joining your traveling companions for sunset drinks and the first of many delicious dinners.
Spend the day at leisure enjoying the onboard facilities as you cross the Timor Sea. Join your Expedition Staff in the ship’s lounge for informative presentations in preparation for your first landing in the Tanimbar Islands. This evening, join your fellow travelers, the Captain and his crew at the Captain’s Welcome Cocktails as you sail toward the ‘Forgotten Islands’ of Tanimbar and Kai.
Awaken as you approach Saumlaki, the main town in the Tanimbar Islands and your first Indonesian landfall. The islands are surrounded by pristine white sand beaches fringed with palm trees. The villagers of the Tanimbars are master carvers and their magnificent queen ebony wood carvings are considered to be the finest in the entire Indonesian archipelago. View the community’s traditional ritual ceremony and learn how headhunting was practiced here until well into the 20th century.
The island of Kai Tanimbar is considered to be the birthplace of Kai Island culture. Today cruise and explore the many small islands and communities located between Pulau Kur and Pulau Kaimeer recognized as having the best beaches in the Indonesian Archipeligo. Here have the opportunity to practice your snorkeling and diving skills. As you pass through the islands, keep an eye out for the ancient petroglyphs that adorn the towering cliffs. Painted in ochre, black and white, the drawings depict historic sailing boats and intricately decorated locals wearing tall headdresses.
In the middle of the Banda Sea lies an enchanted fragment of history, the center of the Spice Island trade. Originally the world’s sole source of nutmeg and mace, these nine tiny islands have attracted traders since at least 2000 years ago. In the 16th century, European explorers discovered entire continents in their quest for these islands. On your approach to Banda Island the outline of Gunung Api volcano, with its thin plume of smoke drifting from the summit, will be clearly visible. Join an early morning hike to the top of ‘Fire Mountain’ for spectacular views over the island’s main town of Banda Neira. Then, enjoy the opportunity to immerse yourself in the colors and aromas of the Spice Islands. Stroll through the wide, tree-lined streets of Banda Neira, past the remnants of mansions constructed during Dutch colonialism. Visit the fascinating museum, the former VOC Governor’s Mansion, the old church and Fort Belgica. Your exploration of Banda Neira concludes with a visit to the town’s nutmeg gardens, shaded by wild almond trees.
Just off the western tip of Ceram lies the pristine island of Pulau Gorong, where you will spend the day exploring the enchanting saltwater lagoon, which is also home to a myriad of native birdlife. A range of in-water activities will be available including guided snorkeling, SCUBA diving and glass bottom-boat tours.
The Misool Islands, one of the famed ‘Four Kings’ of the Raja Ampat region, are a gem-studded bracelet of islands that are a mecca for snorkelers and divers. The islands boast dramatic scenery, with towering limestone pinnacles jutting out of the water and white sand beaches adorned with palm trees. Travel ashore and explore on a nature walk with the Expedition Staff. You will also have the chance to experience the waters surrounding the island, which are home to at least three species of the pygmy seahorse, no larger than a fingernail, and the most splendid soft coral jungles, with their vibrant shades of orange, red, purple and pink.
Awaken as you cruise the Dampier Straits, named in honor of famed explorer William Dampier. Traveling ashore to Pulau Gam, a local Papuan guide will join you on a walk through the shady forests around Sawingrai village. Your guide’s local knowledge will hopefully allow you to catch a glimpse of one of nature’s finest creations, the ethereal Red Bird of Paradise. This afternoon immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Raja Ampat. On Arborek Island a profusion of plankton attracts giant manta rays and you have the opportunity to swim with these majestic creatures. Aboard Xplorer travel ashore to nearby Kri Island, which offers perhaps the best snorkeling and diving in the archipelago, if not the world.
Celebrate with a glass of champagne as, for the first time, Coral Discoverer crosses into the waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Later, arrive in the pristine waters of Aljui Bay and the Cendana Pearl Farm. Join a guided tour of the farm, your local host taking you through the entire propagation and cultivation process. The farm produces pearls of the finest quality, and you may even wish to purchase an incredible souvenir produced in these very waters. Continuing north, set sail for Wayag Island.
Savor a day of exploration on World Heritage-listed Wayag Island. Your day starts with an early morning hike up Pindito Peak, where the reward is breathtaking views over the island and its spectacular lagoon. Then, discover the lagoon’s white sand beaches and a magical maze of limestone karst ‘gumdrop’ islands. The islands are adorned with thousands of pitcher plants and colorful orchids and you’ll spend the remainder of the day exploring. This evening remain at your scenic Wayag Island anchorage. With the bright stars of the Milky Way shining brightly overhead, it is sure to be a fantastic end to another magical day.
After farewelling the Raja Ampat region we travel ashore to beautiful and remote Mapia Atoll. Expedition Staff will lead you on a fascinating walk around the atoll before the opportunity for snorkeling, SCUBA diving and glass bottom boat tours in this most rarely visited of locations.
Returning to the Southern Hemisphere, your Expedition Staff will recap the many exciting adventures from the first part of your journey as you cruise towards your final port of call in the Indonesian province of West Papua; Jayapura.
Formerly known as ‘Hollandia’ during World War II, Jayapura is today a bustling town of some 200,000 residents and a melting pot of sights and smells. Today you may choose to explore the streets and markets of the ‘old town’ at your own pace, or perhaps visit Lake Sentani, the location of General Douglas MacArthur’s main base during WWII and home of villagers famed for their distinctive art, traditional motifs, sago bowls, drums and bark paintings.
During the night cross into Papua New Guinea waters for a morning arrival in the picturesque port city of Wewak, the capital of the West Sepik Province and was a major air base for the Japanese during World War II.
Whilst disembarkation in Wewak is at 9:00am this morning, subject to your flights and forward travel arrangements you are invited to join in touring of Wewak before your departure. Please inquire for further details.