FOLLOW THE VOYAGE:
Raja Ampat & Spice Islands
Biak to Darwin | 1 April 2023 to 14 April 2023
Day 1: Biak, 1 April 2023
After an exciting morning of travel, accompanied by Howard, Tim, and Sam, we arrived in Biak at 2:40pm in the afternoon and were welcomed with a special ceremony at the airport. Oswald organized a generous supply of fruit for us to try before we departed for our first excursion. Some of us visited the historic caves that once saw significant action during World War II, while others opted for a relaxing afternoon at the hotel.
Eventually, we all reconvened at the hotel, where we enjoyed some light refreshments and a chance to unwind before heading back to the ship. Once on board, the Coral Adventurer crew warmly greeted us and showed us to our staterooms. After a mandatory muster drill, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the dining room before we retired to their staterooms to rest after a long day of travel. Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day of adventure and exploration.
Day 2: Auri & Roon Island, 2 April 2023
As the ship made its way to the first destination of the day, we enjoyed their first breakfast onboard the Coral Adventurer at 7:00am.
Afterwards, we made our way up to the Bridge Deck Lounge for an introduction to the team and a little brief about how the trip and excursions will run. Afterwards, we split into two groups, the divers and snorkelers to go over their briefing before being fitted by the rest of the crew with gear for the trip.
Our first destination was the reef off Auri Island in Cenderawasih Bay. Here we got in and enjoyed great visibility and lots of fish life around – anemonefish, Nemo, coral trout and many other species. After a lovely snorkel, everyone headed back to the ship where lunch was waiting in the dining room at around 12:30pm.
During our steam to Roon Island, Guest lecturer Howard presented his first talk “An Introduction into Indonesia” in the Bridge Deck Lounge, following by a briefing about the whale sharks which we are to visit the next day.
Afterwards, the Xplorers departed to a lovely snorkel site with Emily while the divers went in the Zodiacs the WW2 Zero Plane wreck. Everyone came back from the dives and snorkels happy and said it was beautiful. We arrived back at the ship later in the afternoon. Captain’s welcome drinks were then served up in the Bridge Deck Lounge Bar. Everyone mingled and sipped on a few beverages while Miles introduced himself and the crew.
Dinner was then served in the Dining Room and “My Octopus Teacher” was then played in the Bridge Deck Lounge Following.
Day 3: Kwatisore – Whale Sharks, 3 April 2023
Everyone made their way down to the dining room nice and early today, very eager for the upcoming activities. At 7 am, the first group boarded the Xplorers to go over to the fishing platform where the Whale Sharks were being fed. We then divided into groups of 10 and boarded the Zodiacs to swim with the sharks. Despite the choppy and windy conditions, we had a great time!
After an incredible experience with the Whale Sharks, everyone returned to the ship around 10:45 am for light morning tea. Afterward we boarded the Xplorers again to visit Kwatisore Village for a wonderful mid-morning cultural experience. As we arrived, the we were greeted by music and dance, and everyone stepped on a wooden paddle – a tradition in the village. We were then lead up to the grass where the music continued. After, we gifted supplies to the community, and the dancers performed for us. We then had the opportunity to explore the village and engage in games of football and frisbee with the locals.
The Xplorers picked everyone up after 1 pm, and we returned to the ship for a late lunch at around quarter to 2. The rest of the afternoon was spent at sea, with the opportunity to take part in a Bridge and Engine Room tour.
After a great day yesterday and the day at sea we have ahead, everyone enjoyed a nice sleep-in. After breakfast, we went up to the Bridge Deck Lounge for a presentation by Tim on sharks – this was a great follow-up after our excursion yesterday morning. Tim added a little extra about Whale Sharks themselves. Following, there was a quick intermission then Linda presented her talk about the people of Indonesia.
To finish off the day, we had guest lecturer Howard present his talk “The Coral Triangle” which touched on all things Coral – marine species and the likes we may see throughout the voyage.
At 8:30 am, dive instructors Sally and Sam led groups of divers on a morning dive via zodiacs. Shortly after, the Xplorers departed off to the snorkel spot which is located on the equator. We had a delightful time snorkelling for a couple of hours, observing a wide range of fish life and coral, before returning on board with happy faces.
That afternoon the Xplorers departed one after the other and went across to the mine and little camp which is very cute. We walked through the bush and up the back end looking at some interesting plants and learnt of the operation there and showed us some nickel ore before heading back to the beach for a little wander.
Back on the Xplorer we went and took guests who were not interested in a snorkel back to the ship before then heading back to the snorkel site for an afternoon of snorkelling.
At 8:30 am we departed the ship and cruised through the Limestone casts to a little floating jetty. We disembarked the Xplorer and enjoyed a beautiful walk through the forests on a beautiful boardwalk. There were about 320 steps all the way up and everyone was greeted with stunning views down at the casts and ship below. We soaked up the scenery and took lots of photos before making our way back down. There was lots of birdlife to be seen and heard throughout the forest. A few of us were very lucky to spot a pair of Little Paradise Kingfishers and down the bottom, as we left on the Xplorer there was a Brahminy kite soaring above as well as a white-bellied sea eagle in the distance. The Xplorer took a little journey across the bay and anchored up where we then enjoyed a lovely little snorkel to finish off the morning. There was plenty of beautiful and healthy coral as well as fish life to be seen but unfortunately, the visibility wasn’t the best.
Whilst the first group was underway the second departed the ship at 9:00 am and went for a lovely morning cruise around the limestone casts. Marie and Tim were on this Xplorer and Tim did a marvellous job talking about the flora, Fauna and wildlife they saw along the way as well as the geology of these magnificent formations all around.
At 9:30 am the divers departed for Rubios Island, which was just behind the ship and dived around the outside. This was by far the best dive of the trip offering a decent wall to dive along, lots of coral and fish including a puffer fish as well as a neat little swim through cave that was not too deep. Everyone was very happy when they came back onboard.
In the afternoon each group swapped and did the other excursion.
Back on the ship everyone freshened up and joined us in the Bridge Deck Lounge where Linda did a recap on the tin/nickel mine we saw yesterday adding a bit of humour in and tomorrow’s plans were discussed. Dinner was then served in the Dining room.
Everyone joined the Dining Room for breakfast as the ship approached anchor at Kofiau Island. At 8:30am the first group of divers departed, and we made our way to the Island across from Kofiau on the Xplorer for a morning snorkel and swim. The locals here cut open coconuts for everyone to enjoy while they splashed in the shallows.
After lunch, some of the locals from the village came aboard the ship to put on a welcome performance. They did laps with drums, dancing and chanting – it was spectacular to see. Afterwards, we departed on an Xplorer, landing on the beach for a lovely afternoon stroll up to the sago processing. We learnt how the plant is flushed to remove the toxins and then ground down and flushed again so it is edible.
We arrived in Misool, admiring the view of the moody limestone casts the ship had anchored in front of as we dined on breakfast. The first Xplorer departed the ship around 9:00 am, heading to the Misool Celestial Hill and then continuing to a snorkel location. The second group went on a scenic cruise through the limestone casts, admiring the wildlife, scenery, and tropical landscape.
After the cruise, we went to Banos Island, where we enjoyed a magical morning of swimming, lounging on the beach, and snorkelling. The local guides even sliced open coconuts to enjoy as we swam around. Later, Seb skillfully navigated the Xplorer through narrow gaps and into a maze of limestone casts, where we could savour the beauty of this area. The Xplorer eventually arrived at a lagoon-like area, where we turned off the engine to enjoy the silence in this stunning location.
It was an exciting morning for all as we explored an area nobody had ever been – in true expeditionary style. We went to an island off to the west of the anchorage with a spectacular reef and saw many fish, turtles, and sea snakes.
After lunch, we headed to the north end of Pulau Basar for an afternoon of snorkelling and paddling on the kayaks. Here we spotted even more marine life such as turtles, rays, pipe fish, trevally, and four sea snakes!
That afternoon, we all joined on the beach to enjoy sipping on bubbles, wine or beers and soaking up the stunning little lagoon.
This morning we began with Howards presentation “Banda: Blessed or Cursed by Nutmeg”, a fantastic talk about the historyof the area. After a short break, Linda presented her talk “What was the big hairy fruit” this dived into the topic of seasons in the tropics and about fruits that grow in the wet or dry seasons where we are visiting.
Our activity for today took us to a beach at Pulau Molana, where the water clarity was beautiful and produced incredible colours. We stayed in the water for what felt like hours, enjoying the clarity as we snorkelled from one end of the beach to the other.