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Raja Ampat & Spice Islands | Darwin - Biak | 13 Nights

Raja Ampat, Whale Sharks & Spice Islands

13 Nights | Departs Darwin 19 March 2023 | Arrives Biak 

The rich history and diverse marine life of Raja Ampat and Spice Islands are brought to life on Coral Expeditions’ voyages. Aboard Coral Adventurer retrace the ancient trade routes of spice merchants trading Chinese silks for cloves, Indian cotton for nutmeg and Arabian coffee for pepper.

Explore some of the 1,500 rarely visited islands of Raja Ampat whose waters harbour over 75% of the world’s coral and fish species. At Cenderwasih Bay, swim with the gentle whale sharks – the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate – in what guests describe as a ‘once in a lifetime experience.’ Walk through vibrant village markets unchanged for hundreds of years. Experience a traditional welcome at Banda Naira where our ship is serenaded by kora kora canoes. Enjoy the view over sunset drinks at 17th century Dutch Fort Belgica. Climb atop Mount Pidito to marvel at one of the world’s most photographed marine scenes: the jagged green limestone cliffs and crystal clear water of Wayag.

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Expedition Highlights

  • Indulge with three days in spectacular Raja Ampat, the famed ‘Four Kings’ archipelago
  • Swim in the turquoise waters of Yapap natural pool
  • Discover Wayag’s ‘gumdrop’ islands and be rewarded by the view from Pindito Peak
  • Swim with the gentle and majestic whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay, the world’s largest fish
  • Be welcomed to Banda Neira by the exciting spectacle of the traditional Kora Kora canoes
  • Explore the ancient kingdoms fought over by English, Dutch, and Portuguese explorers
  • Learn the customs & cultures of West Papua and Indonesia, and experience local culture, including traditional dances, handicrafts and fresh local foo

 

Fares

CORAL ADVENTURER TWIN SHARE PER PERSON SOLE USE*
Bridge Deck Balcony Suite $26,520 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $20,660 n/a
Explorer Deck Stateroom $18,890 $28,335
Promenade Deck Stateroom $14,160 $21,240
Coral Deck Stateroom $11,790 $17,685

Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST. *Limited sole use occupancy available

Itinerary

Embark: Board at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 11:00 am for 12:30 pm departure.
Disembark: Arrive at Biak at 7:00 am and disembark.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.

Day 1: Depart Darwin

Darwin Port

Board your ship in Darwin at 11:00am, where there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 12:30 pm departure. Spend the afternoon becoming acquainted with all the facilities onboard as we cruise northwards towards the Spice Islands.

As dusk falls join your fellow travellers, the Captain and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks in anticipation of what promises to be a remarkable journey discovering Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands.

Crossing the Timor Sea

Spend a luxuriant sea day at leisure as we cross the Timor Sea towards Banda Neira. Join our Expedition Team in the Lounge for an insightful introduction to Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands as well as safety procedures and protocols while visiting Indonesia. After dinner, a movie or documentary will be featured.

Banda Neira - Spice Islands

Coral Expeditions Spice Islands

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 snorkelling.

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.

Later in the afternoon, there is 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 colonisation. Join the locals for a traditional dance and music performance before enjoying a glass of sparkling wine as the sun sets over the fort.

BANDA NEIRA & HATTA ISLAND - SPICE ISLANDS

This morning, choose to explore the streets of Banda Neira on a guided tour, spotting colourful local houses and meeting friendly children before visiting a local nutmeg plantation to gain a fascinating insight into the spice that started it all. Alternatively, snorkelling over the nearby lava flow system will reward with spectacular colourful coral and fish species. You may spot Dogtooth tuna, mobula rays, or some of the largest population of Napoleon Wrasse in Indonesia.  After lunch we farewell Banda Neira and head for nearby Hatta Island within the Banda Archipelago.

Hatta Island offers exceptional snorkelling and diving at the edge of the reef just 5m off the shoreline. Admire vibrant corals and sea creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours home to turtles, dolphins, sea horses, great coral gardens and plenty of fish. There is time to take a guided walk through the village, visit school children, and to explore a plantation of Pepper Trees and Nutmeg Trees.

Molana Island & Saparua Island - Spice Islands

Fort Duurstede

We start the day arriving early at Molana Island whose history stretches back to the Portuguese colonial era. This uninhabited private island is home to 85 species of trees, Pacific Monitor Lizards (Varanus Indicus), Moluccan Scrubfowl (Megapodius Reinwardtii) and Coconut Crabs. The island still contains the ruins of a hospital built by the Dutch, whose construction was interrupted by the Japanese occupation in World War II. Snorkelers can take advantage of the shallow corals and clear water with easy viewing of unique corals and plentiful fishes. Experienced divers may see an underwater cave that connected to a well in the centre of the island.

After brunch, we head East to nearby Saparua Island where we are welcomed by singing school children. The area holds an important spot in history books which we learn at Fort Duurstede, a 17th- century Dutch fort with a complicated backstory that spans centuries. Here men and boys give us their war dance with shields, swords, and cultural adornment. This is a location of cultural immersion and learning.

Sawai - Spice Islands

kofiau island

In the middle of the Banda Sea, Sawai village is on Seram Island and is one of the oldest villages in the Maluku Islands. The village is in a beautiful setting with simple homes built on stilts over the ocean. We will spend the day immersed in the crystal-clear waters and snorkelling over reefs. The islands is popular for birdwatchers with 118 known species including colourful Eclectus parrots, purple-naped lory and salmon-crested cockatoo which are all endemic to Seram Island.

This is our final stop in the Spice Islands as we make our way to the natural playground of Raja Ampat.

Misool & The Stone Gardens Of Misool - Raja Ampat

Day 7 Wayag (14)10

Our introduction to the beautiful natural playground of Raja Ampat is at Misool, one of the four largest islands. 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.

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.

Kofiau Island - Raja Ampat

coral-expeditions-wayag-island-raja-ampat

At Kofiau Island we are welcomed by village dancers from their traditional boats before leading us ashore at Deer Village (also known as Kampung Deer). Local guides show us through their village before we board a local longboat which takes us to another village, Kampung Awat. Here we enjoy a traditional Sasi Opening Ceremony and a barbeque on the beach. Sasi is a traditional ceremony to preserve the ecosystem and effectively limits the catch of particular marine species during a designated period. After lunch, we snorkel and swim in the ocean and pay visit to more vibrant villages.

Aljui Bay, Raja Ampat

Snorkelling from the Xplorer tender over coral

Known for an incredible diversity of tropical fish and coral species, Aljui Bay is one of the best diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Spend the morning exploring the colourful underwater environment, searching for unusual coral formations, and spotting marine species. Over a satisfying lunch, cruise to Kawe where we celebrate crossing the equator! Go ashore to see the equator maker, and then visit an abandoned tin mining settlement. There may be a final opportunity for a refreshing dip in the warm tropical waters, before returning to your ship.

Wayag Island - Raja Ampat

coral-expeditions-gam-rainforest-walk

More Raja Ampat treasures await today as we explore the magnificent waterways and lagoons by Xplorer and Zodiac boats with time to swim in crystal clear waters and walk upon white-sand beaches amongst the many islands.

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. Alternatively, you can choose to relax by swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or a guided glass bottom boat tour.

At Sea

A couple enjoying time at sea from the Xplorer Deck

Leaving Raja Ampat in our wake, we enjoy a luxuriant, relaxed day at sea as we make our way towards Cenderawasih Bay on the north coast of Papua.

Join our Expedition Leaders and Guest Lecturers in the Lounge for an informative presentation on the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay. Reaching between 9m and 12m in length and weighing up to 12,500kg, whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. Drawn to the fishing platforms of local fishermen, there are few other places in the world where these magnificent creatures congregate.

Roon or Auri Island

Coral Expeditions Ghizo Island

Depending on the weather and conditions, today we will enjoy either Roon Island or Auri Island.

Cenderawasih Bay (translates to Bird of Paradise Bay), hosts an incredible array of marine biodiversity. The largest marine park in Indonesia, Teluk Cenderawasih National Park protects a rich marine ecosystem, and covers an area of more than 14,500 square kilometres and is home to whale sharks, dugongs, dolphins as well as over 200 known species of fish and 150 species of coral.

One of the highlights of Roon Island is the wreckage of a Japanese Zero fighter plane lying in shallow water and is visible to snorkellers when the weather co-operates. The wreck has become a marine habitat and sports large corals, gorgonian fans as well as large populations of lionfish, surgeonfish, and turtles amongst other marine life.

To reach Auri Island, we will navigate through picturesque island scenery before enjoying beach activities, swimming, and snorkelling in this striking location.

Cenderawasih Bay & Kwatisore Village

Swimming with a Whale Shark

The biodiversity hotspot of Cenderawasih Marine Park attracts a significant population of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea. Cenderawasih Bay is one of the few places worldwide where it’s possible to swim with this endangered species. There is no guarantee that whale sharks will materialise on cue – if they do, we may have the chance to snorkel amongst them. Eyeballing these enormous fish, which are completely harmless and can grow to the length of a bus, is an experience you won’t forget!

Later, we will visit Kwatisore village with local guides and learn about West Papuan customs, cultures and the traditional lifestyles of the people. You will notice the difference in dancing, adornment and musical instruments of the West Papuan people in comparison to customs and culture of earlier islands visited in Raja Ampat and Spice Islands.

Day 13: Arrive in Biak

coral-expeditions-biak-darwin-march-2016

After an early morning arrival into Biak at 6:00 am, disembark to visit the historic Binsari Caves before your 12:00 noon charter flight to Darwin (charter flight at additional cost).

March 2023

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
19 March 2023 19 Mar 2023 01 April 2023 01 Apr 2023 $11,790 to $20,660 $11,790 to $20,660 Coral Adventurer Available Book

April 2023

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
19 March 2023 19 Mar 2023 01 April 2023 01 Apr 2023 $11,790 to $20,660 $11,790 to $20,660 Coral Adventurer Available Book

Your cruise price includes:

  • An authentic, flexible expedition itinerary
  • Comprehensive and fully guided sightseeing in each destination
  • Snorkelling & equipment (SCUBA diving at additional cost)
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
  • Expert Expedition Team and Guest Lecturers
  • Lectures, workshops and demonstrations onboard
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Selected wines, beers, and spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access
  • 24-hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Tips and gratuities

Your cruise price does not include:

  • Pre and post flights & accommodation
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • SCUBA diving
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras in some destinations

Tipping not required

Other cruise lines automatically add gratitudes to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. At Coral Expeditions our crew have no other agenda than your delight.

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email explore@coralexpeditions.com

Travel Insurance:

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. Please refer to our Pre-Departure page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers.

Additional Information:

Following your expedition, you will receive a link by email to free download the images taken throughout your voyage by our Expedition Team. Please make sure that you have provided our reservations team with your relevant email address.

Countries Visited/ Currency Accepted:

Indonesian Rupiah (Currency is IDR) – Main opportunity to purchase will be at Bandaneira for some pearls.

Languages Spoken/ Dress Codes & Etiquette:

Bahasa Indonesian and English are spoken here. The dress etiquette will be smart casual.

Snorkel Opportunities:

These opportunities are a guide and not all are guaranteed.* There will be approximately 11 opportunities, at:

  • Banda Neira Lava Flow
  • Hatta Island Drop Off Snorkel
  • Molana Reef
  • Sawai
  • Misool Island
  • Kofiau Island
  • Aljui Bay
  • Kawe
  • Auri
  • Roon
  • Cenderawasih Bay (Swim with the Whalesharks)

Hike/Walk Opportunities:

Our Expedition Team will advise walking conditions and fitness requirements prior to each excursion.  There are several easy walking options available on this departure, at locations including

  • Banda Neira
  • Hatta Island
  • Saparua Island
  • Kofiau Island
  • Kawe Island
  • Auri Island
  • Roon Island
  • Kwatisore Village
  • Biak

Suggested Readings:

  • Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Wiltoa
  • Spice Islands by Ian Burnet
  • Where Australia Collides with Asia by Ian Burnet
  • Rings of Rice: An Indonesian Odyssey by L & L Blair
  • Diving Indonesia’s Birds Head Seascape by Burt Jones
  • To the Bitter End by Lex McAulay

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