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Banda Sea

7-11 night trip

Experience Level: Emperor requires that you are a PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent  with a recommended 50 logged dives  for this itinerary. This itinerary is unsuitable for beginners and most dives will involve going to depth and currents can be strong. All diving is made from zodiacs to give precise entry and exit points. If you are Open Water or equivalent you will be required to take part in the Advanced Open Water course on-board.

 The Banda Islands are a group of seven small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea about 210 km (120 nautical miles) south-east of Ambon in the province of Maluku. They rise out of 4-to-6-kilometres of deep ocean providing superb diving for both macro and pelagic fauna. Until the mid-19th century the Banda Islands were the world's only source of nutmeg and mace. Wars were fought between the Portuguese, Dutch and English for hundreds of years before the Dutch finally swapped the Banda Islands for Manhattan. Well off the beaten track, steeped in history and promising breath-taking diving, the Banda Sea cruise takes you a step back in time to experience these fantastic islands both above and below the water. There are several ways to cross the Banda Sea and this depends mostly on the weather and the depths of the thermoclines for the hammerhead sharks. Crossing is generally done in March and October when the prevailing winds are changing between the seasons. Seldom-dived sites, active volcanoes, hammerheads and pelagic action, plus a visit to the mythic Banda Islands (original Spice Islands) make this a once in a lifetime cruise. Please note: There are 600-700 nautical miles to cover during the longer sailings. Guests will mostly be diving three dives a day and then travelling at night. This cruise is not advised for people who get very sea sick, or those who are unable to sleep whilst the boat is under way.  

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.


Itinerary Highlights


Banda Islands: Many of the dive sites around the Bandas are wall dives covered in massive gorgonians, soft corals, barrel sponges with some very interesting swimthroughs. Other attractive dive sites feature pinnacles with enormous groups of schooling pyramid butterflyfish, triggerfish and pelagic fish such as tuna passing through, spectacular hard coral reefs next to the volcano and great muck dives with lots of mandarinfish in the local jetty. The Banda Islands, however, offer  much more than diving, they are  a cultural and historical experience. 


Manuk: An extinct volcano about 65 nautical miles south of the Banda Islands, is one of 2 places in Indonesia where there are huge aggregations of sea snakes, chinese sea snakes and banded sea kraits, its an incredible experience to be surrounded on all sides by these creatures. The island is surrounded by black sandy slopes with hard coral reefs, volcanic ridges covered in gorgonians with zillions of fusiliers and pelagic fish such as spanish mackerel and dogtooth tuna.


Gunung Api:  A small volcano in the middle of the Banda Sea, Gunung Api is one of those very rare and special places that not many divers get to see . Underwater ridges, steep slopes with black sand and walls covered in soft corals, however,  the most amazing feature  is the amount of sea snakes surrounding the island.  Hundreds of frigates can also be observed living  on the island.


Wetar:  Pulau Reong is a small island on the northwest coast of Wetar and separated by a small channel only 700 meters wide. More walls, covered in small soft corals and huge numbers of triggerfish of every species. Cape Nunukae, about 6 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Reong, is a large ridge with slopes on both sides. Its covered with a hard coral reef on the shallow area of the ridge and soft corals on the slopes in the deeper areas. Strong currents can be experienced at the end of the ridge where large aggregations of schooling fish can be found.

Pulau Nila: Approximately 26 nm northeast of the island of Nila in the Banda Sea,  is a submerge reef called Nil Desperandum, consisting mainly of walls and steep slopes going several thousand meters deep, with beautiful hard corals on the reef top. The reef is several miles long; Napoleons, turtles and reef sharks are usual sightings here. Five nautical miles east of Nila there is an atoll called Dusborgh with similar topography, its crystal clear water makrd it another great place to see pelagic fish, tuna, mackerel, jack and rainbow runners passing by.

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.

Some transit itineraries also include:

Alor:  The Alor Archipelago is part of East Nusa Tenggara, a region that comprises multiple islands and lies 1,000 kilometres east of Bali and just north of Timor. The Pantar Strait Marine Park consists of a chain of three extinct volcanic islands boasting unique characteristics and a bountiful marine life boosted by strong currents. One of the most well preserved coral reef systems in Indonesia, the narrow strait consists of more than 20 dive sites.  The beautiful, densely covered reefs are full of macro life and the chance of larger pelagic encounters including migrating blue whales and hammerhead sharks. Kalabahi Bay is renowned for its muck diving opportunities. Underwater photographers can enjoy a treasure hunt for numerous seahorse species, crabs, shrimp, nudibranch, rhinopias, octopus and squid living on the black sand of the volcanic rock slopes.