- Famous muck diving in Kalabahi Bay
- Chance to see rare critters like frogfish, mimic octopus, fire sea urchin and the elusive rhinopias.
- Sunset dive for Mandarin fish in Banda Neira
- Chance to see hammerheads and pelagic action.
- Visit the original Spice Islands.
The Banda Sea cruise is for those with the spirit of adventure as we set sail to rarely dived sites, islands and atolls. There are several ways to cross the Banda Sea on one of our liveaboards and this depends mostly on the weather and depths of the thermoclines for the hammerhead sharks. Crossing is generally done in March/April and September/October when the prevailing winds are changing between the seasons. Seldom-dived sites, active volcanoes, hammerheads and pelagic action, plus a visit to the historic Banda Islands (original Spice Islands), make this a once in a lifetime cruise.
From an Alor liveaboard, there is plenty of opportunity to find those rare critters like frogfish, mimic octopus, fire sea urchin and even rare rhinopias in the hundreds of bays and coves in the island chain. Dolphins and whales are often encountered as this area is also part of the migration routes between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. If you don’t mind the water being a bit ‘frisky’ from time to time, this itinerary is beautiful and often quite extraordinary.
Please note: In parts of Alor Strait water temperatures can drop dramatically to around 20 degrees Celsius. It is highly recommended to bring a 5mm wetsuit and/or hooded vest. There are 600-700 nautical miles to cover during this 12-night cruise. We are mostly diving three dives a day and then travelling at night. This liveaboard cruise is not advised for people who get very sea sick or who are unable to sleep whilst the boat is underway. For those with a bit of adventurous seadog in you, you are definitely looking at the right itinerary. See you on board.
This cruise may, depending on the route chosen, include the following highlights (these are not limited to each route):
- Alor Region: Boardroom, Babylon, Cave Point, Clown valley and Wall of Pura plus, famous muck diving in Kalabahi Bay
- Wetar Area: Tanjung Nanukae, Nunukae Wall, Reong North and Reong Wall
- Gunung Api: Snake Ridge, Snake Pit and Sulfur Ridge
- Damar/Terbang Area: Nus Leur, Terbang North and Terbang South
- Nil Desperandum: Hammerhead dives depending on conditions for sites
- Manuk Island: Dives depending on conditions for sites
- Banda Islands: Pohon Miring, Batu Kapal, Batu Kapal Pinnacle, Banda Neira Jetty and Lava Flow
- Secret Spots: We know some excellent spots for shark action that we prefer not to publish but are happy to share with you!
- Banda Land Visits: On this cruise we visit Banda Neira to see the nutmeg plantation, historic forts and small Maritime Museum. An excursion of half a day, plus two good nights’ sleep on anchor before and after. Trust us, we all need it by then.
Click dive site markers for detailed descriptions.
Dive sites & areas that we may visit are subject to weather conditions.
In Alor, there is plenty of opportunity to find those rare critters like frogfish, mimic octopus, fire sea urchin and even rare rhinopias in the hundreds of bays and coves in the island chain. Dolphins and whales are often encountered as this area is also part of the migration routes between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. If you don't mind the water being a bit 'frisky' from time to time, it is nothing short of extraordinary.
- Babylon -
Babylon is on the southern side of Reta Island. You can enjoy a fascinating dive site with great visibility, beautiful, heathy soft and hard corals. A good spot for nudis with lot of diversity and some interesting overhangs at 30 meters.
- Boardroom -
Boardroom is located on the northen side ot Pura Island. A majestic wall dropping down to 50m, along which you will find caves that are filled with glassfish and schooling jacks and snappers hanging out at the entrances.
- Cave Point -
Located on Buaya Island, Cave Point is a beautiful, easy dive on a coral covered wall riddled with caves betweeen 20 and 35 meters.
- Clown Valley -
Located on the eastern of Pura Island, the Clown Valley is famous for its reef covered with anemones and beautiful clown fish; stunning dive spot.
- Kalabahi Bay -
Kalabahi Bay is one of the best muck dive sites that Alor and maybe Indonesia can offer. Many species of ghost pipefish (halimeda can be spotted), frogfish, octopi, shrimps, nudis, and so many more.
- Wall of Pura -
Located on the north side of Pura, this mini wall has lots of small crannies covered with soft corals, black coral bushes and hydroids. With lots of yellow cup corals a minimal current makes the wall look beautiful as the tentacles ebb and flow. In stronger currents you can enjoy seeing schools of fusiliers and hunting jacks.
Set in the heart of Indonesia in splendid isolation are the Banda Islands, which have a rich and important history. These islands are blessed with some of the finest scuba diving in Indonesia.
- Pohon Miring -
The impressive rock structure of Pohon Miring is located on the northern tip of Banda Besar. A deep swim-through has been created by a large crack in the reef – ideal for a picturesque drift dive to view the sponge-covered walls. Southern and northern currents meet here, attracting a host of different fish including bump-head parrotfish.
- Batu Kapal -
Batu Kapal, which means 'Ship Rock' in Indonesian, has a plateau top reef full of soft coral, that slopes down to a sandy bottom from around 20m. A pleasant drift dive that lets you enjoy schooling jacks, trevallies, snappers, fusiliers, barracuda and sweet lips.
- Batu Kapal Pinnacle -
Batu Kapal Pinnacle is a rock sticking out above the water. The dive site is a vast plateau at about 5 meters that has beautiful corals and sea fans, and two more pinnacles at 12 and 15 meters. There can be strong currents around here so keep your eyes open for the bigger pelagics in the blue.
- Banda Neira Jetty -
Located at the pier of the Banda Neira airport, this dive site offer a shelter for many juvenile fish. Covered with sponges and soft coral, the columns welcome schools of small fish, juvenile batfish, and many small critters like moery eel, lion fishs, nudis and sometimes Rhinopias.
- Lava Flow -
Gunung Api is a small volcanic island located to the west of Banda Neira and is another “highlight” of the Banda Sea. During the last eruption of the volcano in 1988, lava flows destroyed the reef. But since then the regeneration of the hard coral reef on top of the solid lava platform has been phenomenal. Large schools of fish cover the reef including snapper, fusilier, butterflyfish and batfish.
Gunung Api, or “Fire Mountain” is a still active volcano – and below its lava-encrusted shoreline the volcano is home to hundreds of highly venomous sea snakes that hunt in packs and show little fear of human scuba divers. There are 3 main dive sites: Snake Ridge, Snake Pit and Sulfur Ridge.
The island of Manuk possesses two very exceptional highlights, both above and below the water. Myriads of beautiful seabirds, including frigates and boobies, glide overhead, looking to take advantage of Manuk’s rich sea-life. Below the shoreline, however, large numbers of sea snakes can be found undulating through the waters. It is believed that the geothermal vents present in these waters attract the cold-blooded serpents in droves. In addition to these distinct natural marvels, the island’s reefs are a stunning combination of coral covered walls and slopes in all sizes and colors. Outstanding arrays of reef fish congregate on the reef, including tuna, jacks, and sharks.
Nil Desperandum, which when translated means “don’t despair”, possibly refers to the ship that was wrecked here centuries ago. A big atoll with a very steep drop off, schooling sharks including hammerheads, silky and gray reef sharks can be spotted in the deep.
Wetar Island represents the western-most part of the so-called "Forgotten Islands".
- Tanjung Nunukae -
Wetar Island’s star dive site “Tanjung Nunukae” is characterised by shallows forming a plateau that narrows as it goes deeper until it drops off abruptly, forming a very nice wall swathed in gigantic sea fans, cup corals and impressive sponges. Divers have come across both mobula and manta rays here. Currents are generally moderate to strong.
- Reong -
The small island of Reong, which lies off the northwest coast of Wetar, presents a change in scenery as it is made of limestone. Reef sharks, barracuda and trevallies frequently visit these waters. Other delights can be found while diving the impressive walls and a site full of diverse marine life.
The major dive sites are not actually off Damar Island itself, but rather around the smaller islands of Nus Leur and Terbang Utara (North) and Selatan (South). These sites feature an explosion of different colours and forms, and seem to be in constant motion. A busy reef, with schooling fish and marine life that are not used to seeing scuba divers. Another unique attraction is the wall of sulphur formed as a result of the proximity of the volcano.
Check Dive & Depart Kalabahi
Once onboard there will be a safety briefing, crew introduction, complete and check dive paperwork, cabin allocation and boat orientation. The first dive is a check dive.
Return to Ambon
On the last diving day, 2 dives are available in the morning whilst observing the rule of no diving within 24 hours of reaching altitude. We return to port at approximately 1pm and moor here overnight. Evening-time pack up diving equipment and settle any outstanding bills ready to depart for the airport or hotel the following morning.
Advanced, 50 dives
This itinerary is not for beginners with many dives below 18m and currents can vary from medium to extremely strong. We recommend that you have 50 logged dives and require that you are a Deep Diver/Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent to join this trip. Divers may find many dives challenging and may be asked by the Cruise Director to skip dives that are not suitable for their diving experience. Diving is from zodiacs to give precise entry and exit points.