Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Overview

Jewels of Raja Ampat

Best For

October – February

Beaches, Swimming, Sailing

10 days/9 nights

About the trip

One of the most noteworthy ecological niches on the planet, with views among the most stunning that you are likely to behold in a lifetime, the Raja Ampat archipelago is a region characterised by rugged and steep limestone coastlines covered with virgin rainforest extending right down to the water’s edge. Many of the fish, corals and crustaceans that live in these waters are found nowhere else on Earth. Embark on a far-reaching exploration of what is without a doubt one of the least visited but most memorable adventure-destinations on our planet. You do not need to be a diver to be able to experience this global epicentre of marine diversity; here you will have the opportunity to snorkel daily in an underwater world reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope. Nor do you need to be a seasoned birdwatcher to see and appreciate the dazzling birdlife that brought Alfred Russel Wallace to this region over a century ago. Witness the curious bobbing, flapping and weaving display dance of the red bird of paradise, hear the shrieks of the crested cockatoo and the loud whooshing wing beats of the hornbills in flight. Float on your back through a mysterious cave; swim with stingless jellyfish; dive into a jungle waterfall; relish the magic of what has been described as the ‘Last Paradise on Earth.’

Many of these cruises fall over either Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (or both!), so be sure to check the dates. In the true spirit of the festive season, you can rest assured that all the stops to celebrate in style will be pulled out!

Itinerary

Day 1
Start your adventure setting a southerly course for the Misool archipelago, stopping for a refreshing swim along the way. Dine alfresco on the main deck in the evening and meet the other passengers and crew while watching the sun set on your first day at sea.

Day 2
Wake up to see the sun rise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the Misool archipelago. The topography is typical of ‘karst dissolution’, featuring a great number of tiny islets whose bases have been eroded over time by the relentless motion of the tides. Spend the day maximising everything that this fascinating area has to offer: the marine wonderland under the water and the magnificent landscape above the surface. Paddle out in the sea kayaks, watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the glorious scenery. After a full day of island hopping through this archipelago, the boat will spend a quiet night at anchor in Misool’s Tomolol Bay.

Day 3
A swim through Tomolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After an early breakfast, you will be taken into the heart of the bay to see this partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. The more adventurous can swim or paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the cave. Then move on to the mysterious stingless jellyfish lake, one of only 20 in the world where these amazing creatures exist, and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals. After returning to the ship, explore more of this impressive maze of karst islands, both above and below the surface, complete with mysterious skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries, and prehistoric cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures and huge human palms, fish, flowers and plants, tools and vessels. Overnight, the boat will cruise north to the island of Batanta.

Day 4
The jungle-clad island of Batanta offers a change of scenery and a chance to stretch your legs on an adventurous trek into the island’s interior. Local guides will escort you through the mangrove waters to the start point of the trek. A short walk along the riverbed will bring you to the first of two jungle waterfalls complete with a refreshing pool for cooling off. The fit and adventurous may choose to continue the uphill climb along the rocks to where a second, larger cascade awaits. After leaving the wilderness behind us, heat to a nearby spot to swim and snorkel before moving north to the islands of Wayag.

Day 5
Few areas in Indonesia can lay claim to such unsurpassed natural splendour as Raja Ampat’s Wayag islands. The beauty of these picturesque karst spires is perhaps only equalled by the brilliant colours and vibrancy of the reefs and the marine life that flourishes below. Nature has carved these islands into a series of coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves, jagged rocks and shaded, sandy beaches. For those who dare, there are some spectacular but nearly vertical climbs that are rewarded with magnificent panoramas. Spend a quiet night here at anchor.

Day 6
The Wayag islands are Raja Ampat’s best, and you will make the most of this unique region for one more morning, navigating the maze of mushroom-shaped islands, and stopping for swimming and snorkelling. In the afternoon, start your return to the southern hemisphere and the island of Waigeo.

Day 7
Another full day of adventure awaits you along the convoluted western coast of Waigeo. Begin the morning by exploring Wofoh, three island gems linked together by stretches of pristine coral reef. You can use the tenders or kayaks to navigate the islands, or put your newly-acquired fish identification skills to use in exploring this vibrant reef.

Or you may prefer to simply just relax on the beach. In the afternoon move northwards to Aljui Bay, home to the Cendanda Pearl Farm, one of the larger producers of high quality seawater pearls in the region. Pearling is an important industry throughout Indonesia and a number of farms can be seen in the waters of Raja Ampat, where the farmers may grant us permission to visit their facilities and receive an explanation of the pearling processes that we have seen during our voyage.

Day 8
Wake up in front of the island of Penemu, a dramatic location with a short hilltop climb to take in the amazing views. After some great snorkelling on the island’s reefs, set course for the tiny Aborek Island, where the local children will perform their traditional dances for you. You can also walk around the village and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept very much alive by the villagers living in this isolated place. There’s a chance that you may get to see some manta rays while snorkeling too!

Day 9
After waking up, before sunrise, follow in the footsteps of the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in a pre-dawn quest to spot the remarkable Red Bird of Paradise, one of the species that Wallace was most anxious to collect. We hope that the efforts of our trek through the forest will pay off, enabling us to catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. After lunch, make your way through the Dampier strait, home to some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs.

Day 10
Stroll around on dry land at the Doom island with a traditional transportation called Becak. During the First World War, Doom island served as an administrative center of Dutch Empire administration in West Papua, and continued to become the core of Sorong for some time before the city grew in mainland Papua. During the Second World War, Japanese forces occupied and fortified the island, building a network of tunnels and bunkers. The island was attacked by American and Australian aircraft throughout the war. Following the war, a fishing station was briefly established on the island before it was moved to Manokwari. After this say goodbye to your crew and captain and head to the airport for your onward flights.

The Ship

This cruise will be on either of two gorgeous wooden pinisi ships, Ombak Putih and Katharina. These sailing boats are part of a centuries-old maritime tradition of hand-crafted boatbuilding in Indonesia. Built by the highly-skilled seafaring peoples of Borneo and Sulawesi, using hand tools and traditional methods of construction, the design of these gaff-rigged ketches has been adapted and passed down from father to son for centuries. Interestingly, the pinisi fleet still forms the massive bulk of Indonesia’s cargo and transport network today.

The boats are outfitted with the most up-to-date safety equipment and communications technology, and equipped with high-quality tenders, kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards and snorkelling gear. The comfortable cabins are located below decks and offer all the necessary amenities, including double beds or twin bunks, private en-suite bathrooms, lots of natural light, individually controlled air-conditioning, ample storage space, and plenty of electrical and USB outlets.

In 2014 and 2015 respectively, working with the unique legacy these vessels represent, Katharina and Ombak Putih both had major refits. Their transformation was an exercise to conserve their authenticity, using only the best traditional materials, and shaped by highly skilled Indonesian craftsmen of the same heritage that built them.

This cruise normally include:

  • Full board
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Excursions
  • Use of bath and beach towels
  • Limited laundry service
  • Use of snorkeling gear and sea canoes or other recreational equipment
  • services of English-speaking tour guide
  • transfer to and from the ship to airport

You may want to add:

  • The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points, however, our reservations specialists in Bali are more than happy to help arrange domestic flights on your behalf and advise on scheduling
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Crew and tour leader gratuities

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