Throughout this expedition, the expedition team may make changes to the itinerary in order to maximize the experience. Visiting these remote communities is subject to approval of the local landowners. Below are the key destinations the ship aims to visit.
Sangliat Dol is a peaceful traditional village in the Tanimbar Islands of Maluku, the center of the ancient boat culture of Maluku. Here boats were built to symbolize the arrival from sea of the original inhabitants of Maluku. Sangliat Dol village is one of few villages where the giant stone boat, and the culture associated with it, remains intact today.
This afternoon after lunch on board, take a coach ride from the port of Saumlaki towards Sangliat Dol, passing verdant fields and plantations. Be greeted by village elders and taken into the heart of the village where the megalithic structure is located. Here the village structure still follows the organization of the original inhabitants. The village head is seen as the Captain or Master “steering” the direction of the village. Many other positions of the village basically translate as “helmsman,” “harpooner,” “bailer boy” and other boat-related titles.
Banda Neira, Spice Islands
The Banda archipelago was once the world’s only source of nutmeg and has attracted merchants for at least 2,000 years as highly sought-after goods such as cloves, textiles, batik and rice were moved through Banda. On the approach to Banda Neira, admire the photo-worthy spectacle of Moluccan paddlers propelling kora kora canoes. Snorkel and dive over the nearby lava flow reef system or explore ashore and enjoy local tea and snacks on the waterfront. Later, explore Fort Belgica, built in 1611. Join the locals for a traditional dance and music performance before enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets over the fort.
Hatta Island, Spice Islands
This morning, continue to explore Banda Neira on a guided tour, before visiting a local nutmeg plantation to gain a fascinating insight into the spice that started it all. Alternatively, snorkeling over the nearby lava flow system will reward with spectacular colorful coral and fish species. After lunch, cruise to nearby Hatta Island within the Banda Archipelago to enjoy exceptional snorkeling and diving just 16 feet from shore with turtles, dolphins and plenty of fish. Stroll through the village, and visit a pepper and nutmeg plantation.
Molana Island & Saparua Island, Spice Islands
Start today at uninhabited Molana Island. This historic island is home to unique vegetation and wildlife, including Pacific monitor lizards, Moluccan scrubfowl and coconut crabs. Here, possibly snorkel and dive over the beautiful corals surrounding the island. After a refreshing morning, be welcomed at nearby Saparua by singing school children. Experience a day of rewarding cultural connection meeting the local people and visiting the 17th century Fort Duurstede to witness a thrilling war dance.
Sawai Village, Seram Island, Spice Islands
Sawai Village on Seram Island is one of the oldest villages in the Maluku Islands. Simple homes built on stilts line the shore. Spend the day swimming in the crystal-clear waters. This is the final stop before journeying to Raja Ampat.
Misool Island, Raja Ampat
The first stop in Raja Ampat is at Misool. Raja Ampat’s name means Four Kings for the four main islands: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, in an archipelago of over 1,500 islands known for spectacular turquoise lagoons and magnificent rock formations. Today, explore Balbulol Lagoon, peppered with conical-shaped islets that rise from the peaceful waters. Swim and kayak amongst the islands in this beautiful lagoon, before spending time at Yapap, considered one of the best natural pools in the world. At Yapap, the sea has such clarity that grains of sand and coral reefs on the seabed are visible from the surface. Later, visit heart-shaped Dafalen Love Lake; climb to the summit to view the lake from above, or enjoy swimming and diving in the lake’s pristine waters.
Kofiau Island, Raja Ampat
At Kofiau Island be welcomed by dancers on traditional boats who lead all ashore to Deer village to board longboats to Awat village and attend the traditional Sasi Opening Ceremony. Sasi is a traditional ceremony to preserve the ecosystem and is a very important way the local people protect their environment. After lunch, snorkel and swim, with the potential to go ashore to visit other villages.
Wayag Island, Raja Ampat
More Raja Ampat treasures await today while exploring the magnificent waterways and lagoons of Wayag Island by Xplorer tender vessel and Zodiac. Take in the otherworldly natural beauty of many karst islands topped with emerald foliage surrounded by sparkling blue sea and white-sand beaches. Enjoy time to swim in the clear water, kayak around the gumdrop islands and stroll the white-sand beaches. After lunch, an energetic hike up to famed Pindito Peak rewards with panoramic views over the island. Alternatively, continue swimming, snorkeling, kayaking or enjoying a glass-bottom boat tour.
Today visit the little-known Amsterdam Island, part of the Su Islands (Mios Su) group, a cluster of small islands off the northern coast of Western New Guinea. Enjoy the opportunity to explore your very first West Papuan Village with local guides and a cultural welcome performance. There is also an opportunity to enjoy beachcombing and a swim.
Roon or Auri Island
Depending on the weather and conditions, today enjoy either Roon Island or Auri Island. Located in the Teluk Cenderawasih National Park, these islands are picturesque and remote. At Roon Island, have the chance to snorkel or dive on the wreck of a Japanese Zero fighter plane. The wreck has become a marine habitat for corals and many species of fish. At Auri Island, enjoy beach activities.
Cenderawasih Bay & Kwatisore
The biodiversity hotpot of Cenderawasih Marine Park attracts a significant population of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea. This is one of the few places where it’s possible to swim with this endangered species, as they are drawn to the fisherman’s bagans. If nature allows, snorkel beside the whale sharks. This is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience. Later, visit Kwatisore village to meet the local people and learn about West Papuan culture, music and lifestyle.
An expeditionary stop for your ship, Palau Num is an island of the Yapen Islands group, in northeastern Indonesia. Here, have more time to visit traditional fishing villages on stilts and explore the waterways and lagoons, with time to swim, snorkel and a dive.
Manokwari, the capital of West Papua, is located right on the bird’s head on the island of Papua, surrounded by lush rolling hills and nearby to the Arfak Mountains. There are over24 different tribal groups here, each with its own unique language and culture. Choose from three expeditions:
Those interested in birding and wildlife may choose to travel into the Arfak Mountains to the Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve, to explore misty tropical rainforests. Hope to see many endemic plants, animals and birds including cuscus possum, lesser birds of paradise, common paradise kingfisher, magnificent riflebird as well as king bird of paradise among the region’s 320 bird species.
Alternatively, choose to join a guided city tour of Manokwari and free time to explore this coastal town, the capital of the Indonesian provide of West Papua. Or visit Mansinam island–a religious island where guests can learn of the history and significance of the island and participate in snorkeling and diving WWII wrecks.