The countryside is picturesque incorporating rice paddies flooding the hillsides and volcanoes reaching to the skies. The rain-forests are lush and tropical, and the beaches are washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority.
After landing on the beach you will be met by local Park Rangers and after a short briefing head off in search of the dragons. The dragons are in their natural habitat so sightings are not guaranteed, however the chance of sighting a dragon is very high. Pink Beach, just a short distance away from Loh Liang and still part of Komodo National Park, is so named because of the red organ pipe coral (Tubipora musica) that contributes to the sand on this spectacular beach. Swimming, snorkelling, sea kayaking or just relaxing on the beach are all options available for you today - make the most of your time on this world famous beach.
The south west corner of Maluku, part of the predominately Christian area of Indonesia, is virtually inaccessible but is home to numerous stunning islands with fringing reefs and ancient cultures. Very few outsiders have ever set foot on these islands and a unique experience is guaranteed as you discover the "Forgotten Islands" of Maluku.
Your visit will be to the tiny island of Kisar, which serves as the official entry point into the archipelago. Kisar has over 400 years of European history and despite being only a few hundred miles off the coast of Australia, its European history is virtually unknown.
After berthing and completing formalities you will be transferred to the town center for a welcome ceremony at the former Dutch colonial residence. In small groups with local guides you will be invited to explore the island’s history including visits to remnant architecture from the Dutch period which includes a stone church and a stone fort both over 400 years old. In addition, visit the Oirata village where cultural performances and displays will entertain you.
The village structure still follows the organization of a boat today. The village head is seen as the Captain or Master "steering" the direction of the village. Many other positions of the village basically translate as "helmsman" "harpooner" "bailer boy" and other boat related names. There are two further figures in the structure the "herald" or "speaker" who is the father of the village and speaks for the village (traditionally basically in times of war) and the "sacrificer" or mother of the village. The mother and father of the village represent the cooperation as in a marriage to ensure the continuing existence of the village. For your visit and for other important events a massive ritual takes place surrounding the stone boat. Traditionally all village decisions would revolve around such a ceremony.
After the ceremony the six host families will take their adopted guests on a mini-tour of the village, including seeing the host families housing and cooking areas, an ikat weaving display, and a market area selling ikat weavings, wooden carvings very similar to those found in new Guinea and possible even old Dutch artifacts such as plates and coins.
At the end of the morning, as guests finish at the markets they will descend the staircase, again with dozens of locals assisting, back to the beach, the zodiacs, and the ship for lunch.
The remainder of the day after the visit to Sangliat Dol will be spent at Weluan Beach outside of Saumlaki town, the capital of Yamdena and the main administrative area for southern Maluku. Here a wide range of local artifacts including many carvings that almost resemble the style found slightly further east in New Guinea, can be found and purchased if desired.
Other products such as the local eucalyptus oil and a potent spirit distilled from the inflorescence of the sugar palm will also be on display. The brave may even sample this distilled liquor! Swimming and rides in local sailing canoes will be available and a giant Christ Statue, (not quite in the same league as Rio!), overlooks the beach giving spectacular views of the beach and nearby township.
The Gab Titui (Star of our Journey) Cultural Center is a place where Orion guests can discover the rich diversity of the Torres Strait Islander people. It is the region’s first public keeping place for historical and cultural artifacts and tools, as well as both modern and traditional art.
Set in the far northern section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and on the true outer Reef, Orion Reef lies far from the potentially damaging effects of population or agricultural run off. The naturally clean and clear water in this part of the Marine Park provides ideal conditions for a healthy reef environment.
This morning Orion will take position at Orion Reef affording guests a unique and spectacular opportunity for swimming and snorkeling. With a mask and a pair of fins Orion guests are invited to enter the crystal clear waters from one of the Zodiacs or from a small sand cay. Enjoy the amazing experience of snorkeling over this pristine and seldom visited section of the Reef which is alive with corals and teeming with tropical fish.