A wonderful 12-day trip taking us from Raja Ampat through the Banda Sea and the Spice Islands to Ambon. The variety of diving and topside scenery we had must be hard to beat! Starting off with some very active dives in the Dampier Strait, with massive schools of Jackfish, Snappers and Barracudas, Grey Reef Sharks on the move as well as slightly more timid Wobbegong Sharks and Turtles.
Next we did some unique blue-water dives in the mangroves of Yanggefo Island. As expected, being nursery for a huge number of fish species, we had plenty of juveniles, including Barracudas, Needlefish and Fusiliers. A great opportunity for photographers to get those special, almost surrealistic, shots!
After a scenic lagoon-tour in the Penemu area, we headed to the southernmost part of Raja Ampat: Misool. Famous for its fantastic corals and congregations of fish, we had a couple of beautiful days diving here. Nice and sunny weather made those soft corals look their best! An early dive at one of the seamounts here delivered very good shark action, lots of fish and a friendly Manta Ray getting her morning fix at one of the cleaning stations.
Continuing south, we reached the Banda Sea which has some of the deepest waters on the planet. We didn’t quite go down all the way to the bottom though, but settled for a more manageable 25-30 meters in blue blue water. Most dives here are of the wall variety, with really good visibility, healthy corals and lots of fish! Swarms of Butterflyfish and Red-tooth Triggerfish, massive Napoleons, Turtles and Unicornfish hang out at these sites. Stunning scenery, with overhangs, caves and swimthroughs, all full of fish, corals and colourful sponges.
Reaching the history-rich Banda Islands, we had the chance to stretch our legs and visit Banda Neira and the Fort Belgica. After enjoying the view from up there, we had breakfast in a nutmeg plantation before cruising to some of the other Islands in the Bandas for more awesome diving!
After a few relaxing and scenic dives in the Nusalaut area we reached the bay of Ambon, well-known for some of the best muck diving on the planet! With all cameras ready and the eagle eyes of the Mermaid divemasters we went in to check it out. We found Thorny Seahorses, Pegasusfish, Longhorn Cowfish, Leaf Scorpionfish, Stonefish, Ghost Pipefish, Nudibranchs galore and a photogenic Wonderpus out and about. And that’s just from one afternoon dive!
All things come to an end, even a great dive trip like this one, and it was time to say goodbye. But I hope we all meet again, since after sorting out all the photos and videos from this amazing trip, it’s probably time for another adventure with Mermaid Liveaboards!
Raja Ampat – Banda Sea – Ambon
March 17-28, 2018