- 15 Breakfasts, 15 Lunches, 15 Dinners
Your Captain and Expedition Team may make changes to the daily schedule when necessary to maximize the guest experience. Below are the highlight destinations of your voyage.
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 snorkeling.
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.
We spend two days at Banda Neira with 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 colonization. Join the locals for a traditional dance and music performance before enjoying a glass of champagne as the sun sets over the fort.
This morning, we discover the beautiful remote coast of Sebakor Bay. The aquarium-like waters are home to exceptional marine life and coral reefs, and snorkellers and divers will have the opportunity to explore. There will be time to kayak, or simply relax and look for Papuan birdlife along the shoreline. Later, enjoy the chance to swim under the Mommon Waterfall, where cool freshwater flows out of the lush jungle and falls into the ocean.
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.
Our introduction to the beautiful natural playground of Raja Ampat is at Misool, one of the four largest 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 symbolize 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.
More Raja Ampat treasures await today as we explore the magnificent waterways and lagoons of the scattered karst ‘beehives’ of the Wayag Islands by Xplorer and Zodiacs. Swim in the crystal clear waters and walk upon white-sand beaches amongst the many islands. The coral reefs here provide exceptional diving and snorkeling, with many vibrant corals and tropical fish species to discover. Alternatively, enjoy guided glass-bottom boat tours to enjoy views of the underwater world without getting wet. 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.
Waisai / Sorong
Still, in Raja Ampat, we take a guided tour of Yenwaupnor village, look for the famed birds-of-paradise family with its many varieties of colorful birds along with opportunities to snorkel, kayak and swim in crystal clear waters.
Today, we enjoy an unusual expedition stop at the small island of Tobi, home to around 30 people who live a traditional lifestyle. Meet the local people, who speak their own language of Tobian, and enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the beach.
Isolated Sonsorol Island is one of the 16 States of Pulau and is home to a population of around 30 Palaun people who are culturally and linguistically related to the Yap and Caroline Islands. Learn about their subsistence lifestyle disconnected from the modern world and dive and snorkel the fringing reef and coral gardens.
Learn about Micronesian Yap Island’s ancient monetary system of stone money, where limestone discs were quarried and carved into ‘coins’ known as Rai, which can be as large as 4m or as small as 4cm in diameter. Ownership relies upon oral history so that purchasing an item with a Rai too large to move involves a verbal agreement that ownership has changed. Visit the Yap Living History Museum to learn about Micronesian people and their time-honored customs and culture and snorkel and dive the lagoon with its coral reefs and abundant marine life.
Snorkel and dive from some of Koror’s palm-fringed beaches and swim amongst thousands of harmless golden jellyfish, a unique subspecies only found in the particular body of water at Ongeim’l Tketau Jellyfish Lake. Ulithi Atoll, in the Caroline Islands, with its 40 or so coral islets dotted around an elongated lagoon, is Micronesia’s best-kept secret with pristine beaches, plentiful snorkeling and diving opportunities on coral reefs and WWII wrecks. Ulithi’s small population is a complex blend of Polynesian and Micronesian heritage who speak Ulithian, an Austronesian language.