Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands
Incredible diving and fascinating culture on a 12-day privately chartered cruise
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Privately chartered yacht
- All food and drink
- Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
Indonesia is famous for its beautiful islands strewn across the turquoise waters, and the best way to explore them is aboard a private yacht. This trip is an example of what you can do, but all itineraries can be tweaked to suit your time frame and interests. On this 12-day cruise, you’ll get to explore the Banda Islands, famous for their role in the spice industry. You’ll also sail towards Raja Ampat where imposing limestone cliffs soar out the water and white sandy beaches await.
After boarding your luxury yacht, you’ll spend the first night in Ambon before spending the next few days discovering the Banda Islands. In the 16th century, this was the only place in the world where you could find nutmeg and it is a place rich is history. Explore colonial houses, impressive forts and the famous nutmeg plantations as well as the underwater world which is home to coral reefs and wonderful swim throughs.
Your next stop is the tiny island of Koon, a great spot for snorkelling, before heading to Misool for the next two nights. The chain is islands is home to lagoons, coves, cliffs, caves and beautiful beaches. Spend your time swimming, snorkelling, diving and relaxing on the sand. Sail through the Passage towards the Wayag Islands, marvelling at the emerald maze of islands and rock formations. As you make your way through the Dampier Strait you’ll pass through waters rich in marine life – keep your eyes peeled for turtles, sharks and manta rays. On the island of Mansuar and in Arborek you can get a glimpse of local culture and meet the people who call this incredible place home.
This amazing journey finishes in Sorong from where you’ll catch a flight for your onward journey.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer from Ambon airport to the harbour to board your luxury yacht
- 5 suites
- Double beds
- Lounge & bar
- Dining area
Built by hand in the style of a traditional Phinisi, as used by traditional seafarers from the South Sulwesi, Alila Purnama is a 48 metre, three decked luxury schooner.True to the Alila Hotels ethos, the Alila Purnama is built with emphasis on style, sustainability and using locally sourced materials. All five suites are spacious, with queen-sized beds, en suite bathrooms with showers, air conditioning, a double wardrobe and a writing desk . Sriwijaya Suite, the master suite, has a deepsoaking tub and a private terrace with sweeping 180-degree views. On board guests will be in absolute comfort with a library, sumptuous lounge and an indoor and outdoor dining area. Plush day beds on deck are perfect to take in the passing view or to enjoy a glass of champagne whilst watching the sun go down. With a spa therapist on board, guests can indulge in a signature Alila massage on board or on a nearby beach. A fully licensed PADI dive centre means experienced divers can explore the wealth of underwater life in this region, and novice divers can be guided on introductory dives or through to their Open Water qualification. Guests also have the opportunity to fish, snorkel and explore idyllic islands on foot or the coastline by kayak. Meals can be taken in the dining room, al fresco on deck or as a BBQ on the beach. Your Luxury Travel Designer will be able to discuss the best option for you on the Alila Purnama; whether you join a set departure around the Komodo Islands or Raja Amapat. Alternatively she is available for private charter for up to 13 guests.
- Three en suite cabins accommodating up to ten guests
- Expert seven-man crew including private chef and diving instructor
- Wi-Fi (when signal is available from land)
- Fishing, snorkelling and diving equipment
Mantra is a brand new 31 m (102 foot) phinisi schooner, designed in a classical style that draws upon the great vessels of the Bugis tribe who once commanded the waves in Indonesia. Combining a traditional feel with modern technology, Mantra’s three en suite guest cabins are fitted with light teak wood and patterned furnishings, accommodating a maximum of 10 guests. Each cabin offers a queen size bed and one or two additional single beds, with private bathrooms and air-conditioning for the utmost comfort. The spacious sun deck’s daybeds and sun loungers are ideal for taking in some of the astounding views across the Indonesian archipelago with a cocktail in hand. For those in search of more active pursuits, guests can dive and snorkel among the thousands of coral reefs or head to shore to take in the local environment and cultures, with highlights including spotting Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park, visiting local villages in Alor, picnicking on deserted islands in the remote Maluku archipelago or exploring the pristine reefs and mangroves in Raja Ampat. An expert Indonesian crew of 7 includes a Western cruise director and diving instructor, and a private chef. Itineraries are flexible, so speak to our travel designers now to create your perfect private Indonesian yacht cruise.
- Three en-suite cabins
- Wraparound deck
- Bar and lounge
- A crew of six including cruise host, private chef and a dive master.
Mischief is a 30ft expedition yacht, its design based on that of a traditional phinisi sailing ship used during the days of the spice trade. Spacious and elegant, the vessel features three en-suite cabins positioned above the deck. Large windows allow plenty of natural light and means guests can enjoy the wonderful views while cruising through the emerald waters. Cabins feature natural teak floors and a sophisticated colour scheme of cream with flashes of red. The wraparound deck offers 360 degree views of the water and the islands, and the large, airy lounge and bar area is perfect for congregating in the evenings with a drink. A combination of Indonesian and Western dishes are served on board. There is snorkelling and diving equipment as well as two sailing dinghies, a windsurfer, wakeboard and waterskiis and two stand up paddleboards for when you simply can’t resist diving into the refreshing water.
You will be met by the crew at Ambon airport and transferred to the harbour to board your private yacht. After you have settled in and been briefed by the crew, you will spend the afternoon at leisure, and can enjoy snorkelling at one of Indonesia's most spectacular sites in Ambon harbour.
Early this morning, the Banda Islands will emerge on the horizon - think of all the European explorers and sailors hundreds of years ago who would travel across the world hoping to see the same view. Over the next two days, you'll find plenty of interesting sights to explore. Head ashore on Banda Neira, where every building could be a museum, with cannons in front of colonial houses and 17th-century inscriptions on the walls. There's the impressive Fort Belgica and a former governor's palace to see, among fascinating local museums. Then there are the historical nutmeg plantations of Banda Besar and the ruins of Fort Revenge hidden in the jungle on Ai Island. You can also visit Rhun Island - the first British overseas colony ever. This tiny piece of land was once the subject of a long conflict between European colonial powers and was transferred to the Dutch after the English came to an agreement that it would be swapped for Manhattan. Diving and snorkelling in the Bandas is magnificent, with walls covered in massive gorgonians, soft corals, barrel sponges and some very interesting swim-throughs. And, at the end of each day, you can arrive on a dazzling white beach in the shadow of an active volcano and enjoy sunset cocktails.
The tiny island of Koon is a veritable aquarium for underwater aficionados. Coconut palms dot the island, which is encircled by a blindingly white beach melting into turquoise seas. The coral reef fringing the island is well-protected and acts as a haven for fish.
This morning, the yacht will reach the southeast end of Misool. You’ll awake to a shimmering pastel sunrise and enjoy a decadent breakfast on deck, with tea and coffee served by your crew. This chain of tiny islands carves the area into hundreds of narrow channels concealing lagoons, coves, cliffs and limestone overhang, caves and endless pristine beaches. Here in Raja Ampat’s southernmost island, you’ll spend two days exploring Misool’s treasures. The surrounding dive and snorkel sites have been voted some of the best in the world. Above water, you can explore the ethereal 'Gua Sacral' ancestral caves of Tomolol, a former burial site of indigenous Papuans. Swim through a cathedral-like cave coated in orchids and discover ancient cave paintings edging the crystal blue surface. There’s a pearl farm nearby where you can see how the local’s forge a living in these remote parts. Powder sand beaches await your footprints, and you can claim one as your own for as long as you like, hunting for shells or picnicking in the shallows.
Rise at the crack of dawn for the best chance of sighting a rare Red Bird of Paradise. Your cruise director will accompany you to the island of Gam, where local children will wander with you to the foot of a jungle-clad hill. Hike around 45 minutes to reach the birdwatching platform and keep your eyes and ears open for signs of this elusive bird. Return to your yacht for a well-earned breakfast and take in the statuesque mushroom islands of Kabui Bay, marking the entrance to a narrow channel of water through which strong currents run with each tide – the famous Passage. The channel is framed by limestone cliffs and green vegetation and below, offers a rare glimpse at what is effectively a “salt water river”, shrouded with soft corals, fans and sponges. Nearby, the southern edge of Gam has quiet waterways leading through mangroves where you can glide through narrow inlets in the tender, exploring the jungle. You may be lucky and see a bloom of stingless moon jellyfish, making for an enigmatic swimming experience.
For the next two days, the yacht will cruise the interminable green island maze that comprises the most visually stunning scene in Raja Ampat – the Wayag Islands. This postcard worthy tropical paradise proves a magnificent backdrop for watersports. Kayak, paddleboard or cruise at water level, exploring hidden coves in the shadow of Wayag’s sheer limestone peaks. You can climb the renowned island peak for a panoramic view of the azure waterways through the rock formations, and finish the hike with a swim at the white sand beach below. One evening, you will be treated to a magnificent fresh grill on a deserted stretch of beach at sunset, complete with a blazing campfire, comfortable cushions and cocktails.
This morning, you’ll awake to the sound of tropical birds calling from the depths of the jungle. Mioskon Bay is a spectacular anchorage where you can spend the morning snorkelling in the mangroves, or kayaking across mirror still waters, hugging the verdant coastline. Famed for its abundant fish-life and vibrant coral slopes, the Kri peninsula offers some of the most exquisite underwater vistas in Raja Ampat. Here, you can snorkel over vibrant soft and hard coral reefs through veils of colorful reef fish, and encounter turtles, sharks and even manta rays. Nearby, the island of Mansuar is home to an interesting church, and you can head ashore for a glimpse of local culture.
In the 1700s William Dampier reached the northwestern tip of Papua and travelled with the rising tide into the great channel that now bears his name. The Dampier Strait conveys massive quantities of seawater, forcing currents to flow parallel to the equator where most currents flow north and south. Dampier’s tidal surges carry planktonic feasts that attract hundreds of Manta rays at this time of year near Arborek Island. Spend time diving or snorkelling over the shallow sandy bottom and wait for the giant mantas to pass, swooping past with curious eyes in an elegant underwater ballet. After lunch onboard, head to shore to Arborek village. Arborek has a population of under 200, with very hospitable people creating handicrafts from sea pandan leaves including hats, string bags and carvings. Another beautiful day in Raja Ampat ends with cocktails on deck as the sun melts into the horizon.
The yacht will set sail early this morning towards Sorong. After a farewell breakfast, you will be escorted to the harbour by your yacht’s crew, and onwards to the local airport to catch your flight.
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Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands
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