MY Oceanic Liveaboard
Itineraries & Destinations
MY Oceanic Liveaboard Cruise Itineraries & Destinations
Banda Sea including:
North & South Banda Sea
North Banda Sea
North Banda & Kai Islands
The Banda Sea is the deepest in the world. Reaching 8.000 m. in some points (Mariana’s trench, the deepest point in the world, is 11.000), is also part of the Ring of Fire, the chain of volcanic islands that follow the faulty line from the western end of Indonesia up to Sulawesi and the Philippines…
These are the famed Spice Islands, the heart of the spice trade during the Dutch occupation of the Banda islands, where nutmeg and mace were originally from, or Ambon, where pepper was the main trade. To the east, the Kay islands offer a radically different look from its volcanic counterparts, with low sandy islands with powder white sand beaches, fringed with coconut palm trees.
The Banda Sea is also the most exposed of the Inner Seas of Indonesia, thus requiring careful planning. These routes only take place in October and November, in the interval between the two monsoons, when the waters are more likely to be calm.
Cruising the Banda sea involves more night powering than other routes, as we sail most nights, just to wake up every morning in a different location. But the adventurous divers are rewarded by impressive walls with giant sea fans, massive barrel sponges, thick schools of fish, and the common sights of pelagic fauna, including hammerheads.
The northern margin of Teluk Cenderawasih bay (literally “bird of paradise bay” in the local language), was partially closed in prehistoric times by the islands of Biak and Supiori. That created a unique environment for several endemics species of reef fishes to develop in this region, as well as allowing other species that are usually found in deeper waters elsewhere in the archipelago to come up and thrive in shallower waters. All this can be seen by regular recreational scuba divers today.
The area was also the scenario of brutal naval battles during WWII, leaving behind the wreckages of ships and planes in depths accessible by regular divers as well.
But the star of the routes is undoubtedly the whalesharks. Attracted by the little anchovies netted by the large outrigger boats that fish at night with the help of lights, these gentle giants have become regular visitors to the area, guaranteeing close-up encounters to divers and snorkelers.
The image of a maze of limestone islands topped with greenery and surrounded by turquoise lagoons has captivated westerners since the first sailors set foot on this region in the fifteenth century. The same soft limestone creates a very interesting topography underwater, with caves, canyons, passages and swim-throughs in virtually every dive. Fed by the nutrient-rich tidal currents from the Pacific, the myriad of little islets produce exuberant reefs, with pastel-colored soft corals, gigantic sea fans on many different shades and colors, and countless other forms of sessile life. More of 75% of the world’s reef building coral species known to science occur here, and fish life boasts a similar record, with over 1.400 species of fish, from which more than 20 are endemic to the waters of Raja Ampat.
The Four Kings (or Raja Ampat, as the four islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool are commonly referred to), are a true diving paradise. With its outstanding landscapes of limestone karst spires, primitive fishing villages, vast expanses of mangroves, and of course birds of Paradise, it is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best diving destinations in the world.
Komodo (central & north)
Komodo (central & south)
Komodo, Moyo & Bali
The straits that connect the Indian Ocean and the inners sea of Flores funnel the waters across the channels between the islands of Komodo and Rinca, not only narrowing as it passes through, but also going from 1.000 m. outside to a mere 100 inside the straits. This colossal daily exchange of nutrient-packed waters creates many diving opportunities across its multiple minor islands and bays, with different environments promoting different ecosystems, from underwaters seamounts to ridges, walls, rich slopes and muck diving.
Above water, a microclimate of low-land savanna appears like some sort of Jurassic Park. This is the land of the legendary dragons, a prehistoric creature only found in these islands. Together with traditional boat-building tribes and settlements of sea-gypsies, this is a route that provides a complete experience, just a short one-hour flight from Bali.
The string of islands stretching east of Java and Bali continue all the way to Alor, the last one before Wetar marks the beginning of the Maluku and the Banda sea. The straits between the islands east of Flores have a similar configuration as the ones in Komodo, and diving is as spectacular here as in Nusa Penida or Komodo.
The water tends to have a deep ocean blue quality, and the reefs display a palette of pastel colours unique to this region, probably due to the volcanic composition of its shores. Many different types of diving take place here, from walls to ridges, from seamounts to muck diving, creating different opportunities for different levels and interests.
Topside, the volcanoes predominate, many of them populated by some of the friendliest locals in Indonesia. Combining Christianity and animism, there are villages still dedicated to traditional whaling for sustenance – as it is also a cetacean thoroughfare – while the women skilfully weave their famed ikat sarongs, both following traditional methods from their ancestry.
This route retains a flavour of wilderness, in spite of the fact that it is just a quick one-and-a-half hour flight from Bali.