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Sea Gypsies in Sulawesi, Indonesia

SeaTrek With Rare Species, Remote Cultures & Remarkable Corals

Ternate-Bitung - Example 14 Day Cruise aboard Katharina
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Your voyage will begin on Ternate Island, and you will then sail to Dojinga Village on Halmahera Island, an important location in the history of science. The clove and nutmeg woods that cover Obi Latu's steep hillsides date back to the prosperous and exciting era of the spice trade, when numerous European powers competed for control of the East Indies. Discover the dense forests and rivers of Bacan Island, the location of Wallace's first encounter with the Golden Birdwing butterfly, which he dubbed "the most beautiful butterfly in the world." Learn that fish and other aquatic life are abundant on the beaches and reefs of Mangoli Island. Arrive at Taliabu Island, where you may watch native warriors perform the "cakalale," a traditional dance, to amuse yourself.
Locals of Indonesia on the waterMaleo in Sulawesi, IndonesiaSnorkel with sea turtles as you cruise along IndonesiaA family living near the park found this Rafflesia flower growing on their propertySea Gypsies in Sulawesi, Indonesia
  • Snorkel among the colorful coral reefs
  • Explore Halmahera Island's Dojinga Village, a historical place
  • Spot the Golden Birdwing, the most beautiful butterfly in the world
  • Enjoy the beaches and reefs of Mangoli Island,
Places Visited
  • Asia
  • Indonesia
  • Bacan Island
  • Banggai Islands
  • Bitung
  • Halmahera
  • Maluku
  • Sulawesi
  • Ternate Island
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ternate | Embark

Starting your adventure today you will have a tour of Ternate's historical highlights before boarding our SeaTrek ship and meeting the crew and settling into your new home for the next two weeks. Over lunch, you will set sail for the short journey to Halmahera Island's Dojinga Village, a pivotal place in scientific history, where the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace first came up with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Later that afternoon, you will enter the water for the first time and snorkel and swim on our first coral reef before heading south as the sun sets behind the perfectly conical volcanic islands peaks of the northern Moluccas.

Day 2: Halmahera

This morning you will do a trek to a waterfall located in central Halmahera, walking through towering coconut trees. After the trek, you will take a walk around the village and experience their hospitality by the beach. You will head back across the island to the ship in time for lunch as you set sail to the south. Once you reach the Equator you will be in for a treat as the crew welcomes you to the middle of the planet with some fun and games and a most unique ocean swim. Late in the afternoon you will snorkel once more before heading to the island of Bacan.

Day 3: Bacan Island

Today you will be searching for some very special species of butterfly, some unique birds, and some quirky mammals. You will explore the deep forest and rivers of Bacan Island, where Wallace first saw what he called ‘the most beautiful butterfly in the world, the Golden Birdwing. During our trek, the other species that you might see here include the cuscus, the black-crested macaque, and some hornbills. After lunch you will spend the afternoon snorkeling and swimming on the nearby reef and beaches.

Day 4: Obi Latu Island

Culture and spice will fill our day as you find ourselves off the coast of the white sand island of Obi Latu, a place filled with clove and nutmeg plantations. Obi Latu's steep hillsides are covered in clove and nutmeg forests, reaching back to the rich and heady days of the spice trade, which saw many a European power vying for control of the East Indies. While the spice trade might not be what it once was, the growers can still make a good living on this remote island in the Banda Sea. You will go ashore and walk through the villages and plantations and see the fruits and spices growing on the trees and drying in the sun ready for market, in the same way, it has for centuries.

Day 5: Mangoli Island

Today will be a day for snorkeling, culture, and history as you find yourself in the middle of the Banda Sea in the remote and breathtaking Sulu Archipelago. You will spend the morning exploring the beaches and reefs of Mangoli Island, where the reefs are teeming with fish and other marine life. True to the desert island locale, you will also kayak, paddle, swim, explore and relax on the white-sand beaches. Later that day, you will feast on some history and culture as you visit the local village market and visit the ruins of a 17th-century Dutch fort, which once protected the spice trade along these routes.

Day 6: Taliabu Island

The cultural experiences ratchet up a notch today with a war dance performed in our honor, while the nighttime will be filled with Indonesian music. You will go ashore on Taliabu Island, where you will be treated to a traditional dance known as the ‘cakalale’, by local warriors. You will also have a chance to explore the local village and meet the people of this remote island. The afternoon will see us snorkeling on a reef teeming with fish before moving to another deserted island, where you can swim, kayak, and relax. This evening the crew will prepare a beach bbq for us, and they will regail us with traditional Indonesian folk songs and sea shanties as you party by firelight late into the night.

Day 7: Bokan Islands

The Bokan Islands are an area of unsurpassed beauty and today will be a day of marine exploration and relaxation as you snorkel, swim, paddle and kayak around the glorious reefs, beaches, and islands with many caves and snorkeling spots. You also have the rare privilege to swim in a small marine lake filled with stingless jellyfish, the exotically named Danau Piasu Botangan, one of only 20 lakes of its kind in the world.

Day 8: Banggai Island

A trio of unique experiences awaits us today involving culture, conservation, and wildlife. You will visit the bustling Indonesian island port town of Bangai, a place filled with activity and commerce. Here on Banggai Island you will visit the local market, explore the neighborhoods, the sultan’s palace, and the maleo bird egg ‘museum’, and all from our fleet of brightly-colored motor rickshaws, which will be on the dock awaiting our arrival. You will pay a hands-on visit to LINI, an NGO doing great work with coral restoration on the surrounding reefs, in addition to working with local fishermen in finding sustainable solutions for supplying fish for overseas markets and the live aquarium fishing trade. The last of the day’s highlights will be a snorkel on a local reef where you will see the most elegant, but very threatened, Banggai Cardinal Fish – a darling of saltwater aquarium lovers worldwide.

Day 9: Maleo

Today you will have the chance to see possibly one of the strangest and most unique flightless birds found in the world - the Maleo. After a morning snorkel, you will sail north to visit the endemic Maleo in their beachside environment, the symbol of the province within which it lives. You visit a conservation project on the mainland where scores of Maleo live and breed. Entering in twos, you can watch them at their sandy nesting sites from a camouflaged hide as they go about their business. Later that afternoon, you set sail for the Togean Islands National Park, for some island hopping and spectacular snorkeling, wildlife, and culture.

Day 10: Kabalutan Village

The Bajau sea gypsies of Southeast have a very unique way of life living in harmony with the water, and today you will get to see it up close. You will go ashore to Kabalutan Village, where a population of about 2500 Bajau calls home, and you will be welcomed into their world to meet and talk with them about their lives. In the afternoon you will snorkel and swim on some pristine coral reefs before moving on further into the park.

Day 11: Malenge Island

Some great wildlife experiences await us today both in the water and the air, with birds, fish, and invertebrates as the main features. You will enjoy a snorkel on the lush reefs near the island of Malenge, before taking our snorkels and masks for a rare second swim with stingless jellyfish in nearby Lake Mariona, the second jellyfish lake on our route. You will visit a local village and meet the people, and enjoy a late afternoon walk in the local forest before being witness to a most amazing show of nature as flocks of hornbills come flying in to roost in the trees – a once-in-a-lifetime sight only accessible with SeaTrek.

Day 12: Sulawesi Mainland

Waking up in the east of the park, you will go snorkeling and visit a local village before setting sail on a long crossing towards the Sulawesi mainland, where you can relax, watch the world go by, and take in the beauty of the sea from the decks of our ship. In the afternoon, our chef will offer a cooking class for those interested in learning how to prepare some traditional Indonesian dishes. For the rest of us, it's sunbathing, reading, relaxing, and reflection. To finish the day, cocktails will be served on the back deck before a specially prepared dinner is served, followed by a party with the crew's band providing the music and entertainment.

Day 13: North Sulawesi

This morning you are on the outside 'elbow' of North Sulawesi and you will have the chance for some more cultural exchanges and some impressive snorkeling. After breakfast, you will go ashore to a remote village and meet the local people as they invite us into their village to share in their way of life. You will also go for a walk in the nearby forest on the lookout for birds. You will snorkel a local reef before you head north, stopping off en route for another snorkel and a swim towards the end of the day before the crew throws us a final beach BBQ, where you will dance and sing into the night under the stars next to a roaring bonfire.

Day 14: Bitung Harbour | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Waking up just off the coast near the Tasikoki Rescue Centre, you will go ashore and have a short tour of the impressive facilities at this NGO and hear all about their conservation program and also have the chance to see orangutans, cockatoos, sun bears, monkeys, and other endangered wildlife. After a final swim and snorkel on the beach and then a short sail into Bitung Harbour, you will say a fond farewell to our crew and tour leaders and head to Manado City for either your onward flights or to start one of our special SeaTrek add-on programs. Whatever your schedule, it will have been our pleasure having you on board.



Sail on board the Katharina
Katharina ship

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Cabin Deck
Cabin Deck. Spacious, air-conditioned twin-share cabins with twin bunks or double beds. Private bathroom with toilet, washbasin, and hot shower.


- All rates are quoted in USD and represent cost per person, based on double occupancy.
- Cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.75 times the published rate.
  • 13 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 13 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • First aid kit containing all major medicines.
  • Use of sleeping bags for sleeping on deck.
  • Complimentary cotton backpack, luggage tag, fan, and stainless steel water bottle, which guests are encouraged to take home and keep.
  • Two pieces of laundry each day.
  • Beach BBQ with complimentary wine, beer, and selected cocktails
  • English-speaking SeaTrek tour leaders
  • Full board including all meals and soft drinks, tea, coffee, snacks. Starting and ending with lunch on first and last days.
  • All port fees
  • Welcome drink and cold towel upon boarding the boat on the first day and each time guests return from all off-boat excursions
  • Daily room cleaning
  • Towels and linens
  • Sunscreen lotion but do bring your own
  • Soaps, shampoo and conditioner
  • Selected wines with special farewell dinner
  • Use of on-board TV and multimedia facilities
  • Library of books, kids’ games and TV documentaries
  • Unlimited use of espresso machine
  • All park fees, cultural performances, local guides, and off-boat activities
  • Use of all facilities on board, including snorkeling gear, paddle boards, kayaks, board games
  • All transfers to and from the boats in ports
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Domestic Flights
  • Alcoholic drinks outside of special dinners and beach BBQ.
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • Transit hotels


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.


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