Halmahera - Raja Ampat
TYou must be a PADI Open Water diver or equivalent and have logged a minimum of 50 dives to join this safari.
As with all diving activities, the dive guide has the final decision regarding any divers competency to complete any particular dive.
This exceptional itinerary allows you to explore the pristine beauty of the area both above and below the water. Raja Ampat's islands are mostly uninhabited, with only the faint glow of a few night lights from small villages and fishing boats on the horizon and this lack of population pressure ensures abundant marine life and vibrant habitats. The emerging area of Halmahera, at the gateway to the Pacific, provides a truly diverse habitat and last but not least Lembeh Straits offer the best ‘macro diving’ on earth! The variety of marine life can be amazing offering encounters with enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, manta rays and turtles. These are Indonesia's if not the world's finest diving destinations for anyone with a serious interest in rare and unusual marine life.
The Dewi Nusantara is a three masted topsail schooner. At 57 metres long, the ‘Goddess of the archipelago’ is purposely designed to be totally independent for long periods at sea while offering unparalleled comfort and excellent customer service with a crew of 15. There are eight spacious staterooms and a Master and Commander suite, comfortably accommodating up to 18 adventurous divers. All feature modern amenities including air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. Facilities on board include a huge lounge and dining area, ample space and storage on the dive deck and a well designed multimedia camera room. All diving is from a tender and guided by an incredibly experienced dive team. Equipment is available to rent, including a limited supply of underwater cameras. Standard tanks are 12L with DIN adaptable valves. 15L tanks are available to rent. Nitrox is available.
The itinerary will vary depend on several factors including, but not limited to, weather, diving ability of guests & the number of other boats already present at the various dive sites.
Ambon: Off the beaten track, Ambon island is home to a number of clear water dive sites, but it’s Ambon Bay which has emerged as a world-class muck diving location. For the few who travel here, the rewards are immense. The dive sites range from black sand and rubble to jetties and wrecks, all home to a prolific marine life including but not limited to rhinopias, frogfish, octopus and seahorse. In contrast to the muck of the Bay, the clear water sites on the south and east coast offer a spectacular topography with seamounts, caves and archways adorned with soft corals. It’s at these you can expect to see larger pelagic species such as Napolean wrasse, shark, ray and grouper.
Dampier Strait: The best known dive sites are Cape Kri, Sardine Reef, Chicken Reef, Mioskon, Blue Magic, Mike‟s Point, Manta Sandy, Arborek Jetty, Mangrove and Citrus Ridge. All the dive sites around the Strait are known for the huge amount of schooling fish; barracudas, bigeye trevallies, oceanic triggerfish, spadefish, surgeonfish, and snappers. Apart from schooling fish, this is an area where we get to see blacktips, whitetips, and wobbegongs sharks. Some of the best manta dives are here at Manta Sandy and Blue Magic. Manta Sandy is a sandy slope with several bommies that the mantas use as a cleaning station. Blue Magic is a small pinnacle where giant mantas congregate for cleaning. Some of the best mangrove dives are also located in the Strait, around the islands of Yanggefo and Gam. The area is also well known for the bommies to found in shallow areas of the reefs. Some of these bommies are covered with beautiful soft corals and host a profusion of glassfish. Of course we can't forget the dive sites in some of the local villages, where the pillars of the jetties are covered in soft corals and small critters.
Batanta Island: The southwest coast of Batanta is known for sheltered black sand bays and critters – a stark contrast to the vibrant and dynamic reefs Raja Ampat is generally famous for. The dive sites offer some excellent opportunities for muck diving.
Halmahera: Lying at the gateway to the Pacific Ocean and between Lembeh Strait and Raja Ampat, Halmahera promises exceptional diving opportunities at the very heart of the Coral Triangle. Once at the centre of the spice trade, the lush volcanic island of Halmahera is now a quiet outpost of the Indonesian archipelago, a land that time has long since forgotten. Despite its location at the very centre of the richest and most diverse waters on earth, the largest island in the Moluccas has remarkably escaped the attention of divers clamouring to visit Indonesia's many other diving meccas. This area is finally beginning to open up and represents a new and exciting frontier for adventurous divers. The waters around this sparsely populated island play host to pristine, untouched reefs and an astounding biodiversity. While the waters are still relatively unchartered, a survey in 2005 suggested that Halmahera is comparable only to Raja Ampat - currently considered the most diverse habitat on earth - with at least 450 species of coral and over 800 species of fish recorded in just a few hours. The wider region, much of which is still to be explored, boasts almost 400 islands, plunging drop-offs, atolls, pinnacles and vibrant coral gardens hiding countless macro delights such as the pygmy seahorse, blue-ringed octopus and flamboyant cuttlefish. Larger visitors include turtles, schools of barracuda and batfish, eagle rays, bumphead parrotfish and graceful manta rays (Sep-Oct), and a new species of walking shark has been discovered in the region (hemiscyllium halmahera). Although the area can be dived by liveaboard throughout the year, the best months for diving are considered to be from Oct-May. The itineraries concentrate on the south western side of Halmahera exploring the dive sites around Bacan, Moti, Tidore and Ternate islands. Halmahera's remote location and the possibility of stronger currents mean the diving is most suitable for more experienced divers with at least 50 logged dives. It's a photographer's dream!
Pulau Tifore: 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.
Lembeh Strait: Some of the best muck diving in Indonesia, a black sand environment full of critters. Attracting marine experts from around the world, Lembeh Strait is home to a huge array of rare and unusual marine life with new species often being discovered. With over 180 species of fish already listed in just one small area in the bay, this is the world’s finest diving destination for anyone with a serious interest in marine creatures and critters. There are over 50 dive sites to discover within the Strait which is easily accessible throughout the year. Although black volcanic sand sites dominate the topography, there are patch reefs, sand and rubble sites and even a couple of wrecks, all of which are home to an incredible wealth of marine life. Conditions in the Strait are generally calm with clear visibility and little current, offering exceptional and unique diving opportunities for all. The unusual, weird and wonderful marine life commonly found here include numerous species of seahorse, nudibranch, shrimp crab, octopus, eel, frogfish, pipefish, cuttlefish, scorpionfish and mandarin fish. It’s a photographer’s paradise and a must visit for any diver. Average water temperature is 27C with July and August being a little cooler coinciding with reproductive cycles of the critters hence when the greatest numbers can be seen. The best months to visit based on visibility are October to December. January and February see more rain and less visibility than others. This stunning location attracts marine biologists, photographers, authors and muck diving enthusiasts from all over the world time and time again.