Explore the fabled Raja Ampat region of Indonesian Papua
and experience a total solar eclipse!
Join Undersea Expeditions on this special 11-night whole boat charter that begins in the most talked-about area in scuba diving today, Raja Ampat. On our last visits in 2009 and 2015 we were blown away by the diversity of marine life here, from myriad nudibranch and reef fish species, hard and soft corals (including a special mangrove dive in clear water), mimic and blue ring octopus, to mantas and wobbegong sharks.
Our voyage continues on to Halmahera to observe a total eclipse of the sun on March 9, diving remote islands en route. We'll end our cruise in Lembeh Straits, famous for macro diving. This is a true expedition and our custom itinerary is outlined on the map and description below.
Raja Ampat - Halmahera Eclipse 2016 Itinerary
|Check-in on board M/V Mermaid I. Please plan to arrive in Sorong (SOQ) early in the morning or the day prior so we can try to fit in two dives the first day. If any divers are delayed we start cruising towards the Dampier Strait (South Waigeo) when they arrive.
The Dampier Strait is located between Waigeo and the Bird’s Head Peninsula. Together with Misool, it is the best known area for diving in Raja Ampat. All the dive sites around the Dampier Strait are known for the huge amount of schooling fish; schooling barracudas, schools of bigeye trevallies, oceanic triggerfish, spadefish, surgeonfish, and snappers. Besides the schooling fish, it is also an area where we get to see blacktips, whitetips, and wobbegongs sharks.Some of the best manta dives are also located in the Dampier Strait. These are Manta Sandy (or Manta Mantra), and Blue Magic. Manta Sandy been a sandy slope with several bommies that the mantas use as a cleaning station. Blue Magic is a small pinnacle where the giant mantas congregate and get cleaned. Some of the best mangrove dives are also located in the Dampier Strait, around the island of Yanggefo and the island of Gam.The Dampier Strait is not only known for the amount of schooling fish, the mantas, or the mangroves, but also for the bommies that can be found in the shallow areas of the reefs. Some of these bommies are covered with beautiful soft corals, as well as with glassfish. Of course we cannot forget the dive sites right off the local villages, where the pillars of the jetties are covered in soft corals and small critters.
Best known dive sites in the Dampier Strait: Cape Kri, Sardine Reef, Chicken Reef, Mioskon, Blue Magic, Mike’s Point, Manta Sandy, Arborek Jetty, Mangrove Ridge, and Citrus Ridge.
Cruise overnight to Misool.
Misool is the southernmost island in the Raja Ampat area, and it is surrounded by several hundred small islands and rocks. Some of the nicest soft coral reefs in the world are located in Misool. There are literally hundreds of potential places to dive here. Every year new dive sites are discovered around Misool. Many of the sites around Misool are just as fishy as the ones from the Dampier Strait, with the same schools of barracudas, spadefish, pinjalo snappers, and zillions of fusiliers. Misool is also a great macro area. It is known as the kingdom of the pygmy seahorses, as well as having small allied cowries in the gorgonian seafans, and nudibranches. Best known diving areas around Misool: Wagma, Farondi, Balbulol, Sagof, Daram, Yellit, Boo, Warakaraket, Fiabacet, Kalig, Wayilbatan, Wayil, Pele and Nampele (Blue Water Mangroves). Cruise overnight to Pulau Pisang.
Pulau Pisang – These are a set of two islands and two small rocks between Misool and Halmahera. We spend the whole day here. The diving is pretty nice, sloping reefs with healthy soft on the deeper areas and hard corals bommies in the shallows. When the currents are strong, the dive sites can be very fishy, with schooling bumphead parrotfish, zillions of blue triggerfish, and dogtooth tunas passing by.
Cruise overnight to the Strait of Pantini (Halmahera).
Strait of Pantini –a whole day in the south of Halmahera. Two great pinnacles break the surface – excellent dive sites due to the amount of schooling fish as well as the healthy state of the soft corals. Blacktips, whitetips, turtles and napoleons are some of the highlights. Strong currents here will dictate when we dive. Other sites offer great opportunities as well. Procco Channel between two islands – start with a sandy slope with several large bommies, then we enter the channel and hook on to see what is passing by. Wow! After this exhilarating day we cruise overnight to Pulau Tifore.
On March 9 we focus on chasing the eclipse! We may or may not get to dive today depending on where and how far we have to travel to search for clear skies. We'll end up at Pulau Tifore for March 10: a small island between Halmahera and Lembeh with a great submerged reef about ½ mile from the island. The main attraction here is definitely the barracudas – hundreds and hundreds have made this their home for years. Really amazing especially if you can get inside the swirling vortex of the barracudas. Cruise overnight to North Sulawesi.
Lembeh Strait – some of the best muck diving in Indonesia! Black sand environment full of critters. Frogfish, all kinds of octopusi, spiny devilfish, nudi heaven, etc.
If you choose to fly tomorrow on Silk Air to Singapore then enjoy two dives this morning then relax – if not travelling yet then enjoy more of this world-renowned area.
More of the wonders of Lembeh. If you are flying tomorrow then enjoy two dives this morning – if you are not travelling until Monday or later let the diving continue!
|Disembark for transfer to a resort or on to Manado airport for the next leg of your adventure. North Sulawesi is home to some wonderful dive resorts with the opportunity of hours of fabulous diving. Some divers will choose to enjoy Lembeh Resort while others will head north for the walls of Bunaken National Park or even Bangka Island. Just let us know what interests you and we will coordinate and reserve it for you!
Take advantage of this opportunity to explore this remote region in comfort and good company by e-mailing or calling us today.
Your Package Includes:
- 11 nights aboard the M/V Mermaid I in an air-conditioned double occupancy stateroom with private bath
- Airport transfers in Sorong and Lembeh (Manado)
- All meals and between meal snacks on board the vessel
- Non-alcoholic beverages and beer on board the boat
- Up to 4 dives a day, conditions permitting
- Tanks, weights and weight belt
Marine Park, port fees and taxes (currently 200 Euro), Visa on Arrival fee of $35, Nitrox @ 6 Euro/tank, international and domestic airfare, international departure tax (currently 150,000 IDR, about $13), crew gratuities and items of a personal nature.
Raja Ampat is a special place in large part because it is so remote. The two major routes with small jet service to Sorong (SOQ) are via Makassar (UPG) on Sulawesi, and via Jakarta (CGK) .
Those looking for the quickest connection can fly in to Jakarta (CGK) on March 1, and connect to Xpress Air shortly after midnight on Wednesday, March 2, after a recommended minimum 12 hour layover.
Those who prefer to adjust to the time zone a bit will fly to Singapore on their airline of choice and connect to SilkAir to Makassar (UPG) on Monday, February 29 or earlier. SilkAir flies to Makassar on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. From Makassar we'll continue to Sorong on Tuesday, March 1 on Garuda, stay overnight in Sorong, then board the liveaboard.
It is also possible to reach Sorong via Bali (DPS). The Bali route usually requires an overnight stay or connection in Makassar en route. If you are interested in a Bali or other land tour, now is the time to speak up so we can plan it.
We disembark Mermaid I on Sunday, March 13, and SilkAir flies from Manado back to Singapore on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. If you are in a hurry, we can request a transfer for you on March 12, otherwise, why not stay and dive a few more days in this area? We can arrange a stay at Lembeh Resort if you like critters, or a visit to Bunaken National Park if you prefer walls and wide-angle views.
Extending your visit with another liveaboard, land-based resort to dive North Sulawesi, or Bali land tour is easy - ask us!
$1000 per person. Second deposit of $1000 due nine months prior
to departure, third deposit of $1000 due at 180 days, and final payment due 120 days prior
Call or e-mail us today to explore Raja Ampat, Halmahera, and Lembeh Strait!