- 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 afternoon, visit the mesmerising Kitikiti Waterfall, which flows out of the lush jungle and falls directly into the ocean. Enjoy the chance to swim under this truly memorable waterfall, feeling the chilled fresh water meeting the warm ocean water and explore the surrounding crystal clear lagoons by snorkelling or kayaking. Delve deeper into this pristine landscape by Xplorer cruise in search of hidden lagoons or on a Rainforest Walk and spot exotic birds such as hornbills and birds of paradise along the way.
Misool | Raja Ampat
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.
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.
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.
Sorong is our departure point from the Indonesian region. Lush mountains covered with forest surround the town and fishing a is major part of the local economy. Here, we will go ashore to visit the Sorong Nature Conservation Park to see the big old trees planted by the Dutch many years ago. We will also be welcomed by the Moi Tribe, the owners of the land, who are culturally unique from other peoples in the surrounding regions. Enjoy demonstrations such as the making of the traditional Papuan handwork bag and a tour of a dragonfruit plantation, an initiative by the Moi tribe. L
Tobi (Helen Reef)
Today, conditions allowing, we enjoy a true 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 as well as some English, and enjoy snorkelling, swimming and beachcombing from the beach at Helen Reef. The island is known as a nesting site for lesser-crested terns and green sea turtles.
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.
Koror is the main state of the Republic of Palau, as well as the main island. Koror City is home to about half of the country’s population. The land mass of Koror is not large, with hundreds of islands and islets of volcanic and limestone reef construction that present a stunning vista of craggy forested islands surrounded by emerald seas.
Here, we will hike to Jellyfish Lake, where there is the opportunity for an unforgettable swim with harmless golden jellyfish, which migrate horizontally across the lake each day. Snorkelling and diving at Neco or Carp Island will reveal the underwater wonders to be discovered here. There may be an opportunity to visit Milky Way, a channel known for its therapeutic clay, for a swim and natural spa experience.
Later, go ashore in Koror. There may be options to visit the Belau National Museum or Etpison Museum, which celebrates and educates about Palauan culture.
Yap, Yap State
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.
Days at Sea
Relax on deck as we spend a day at sea, with onboard presentations from our Guest Lecturers, workshops, and demonstrations. This voyage includes three full sea days and eight half sea days.