BANDA SEA • Spices & Snakes

START*:
Maumere • FLORES or Ambon • AMBON
END*:
Ambon • AMBON or Maumere • FLORES

*please check our "Agenda" for your date.

Cruise Key
Critters, unspoiled dive sites, wall drift dives, sea snakes, clear & warm water, volcanos, unexpected encounters, spice trek
Sea Conditions
Generally calm especially in the Bay of Maumere and Ambon. Can be choppy while crossing in open sea.
Weather Conditions
Most of the climate is determined by monsoon winds. Refreshing breezes onboard throughout most of the season.
Nature of dives & Currents
This may not be the cruise destination for every diver, more for adventure divers and not for novice divers.  Unexpected sightings can happen though they may not occur on every trip. This area changes and every trip is very different. CURRENTS can be varied, depending on the moon phase. Especially in the bay of Ambon.
Water Temperature
Avg. 27° to 30°C
Embarkation
Maumere • FLORES or Ambon • AMBON

The WAOW staff will pick you up in your hotel or await your arrival at Maumere Airport to assist and accompany you on board SMY WAOW at Maumere harbour, only a short drive of around 10-15mins away. Our experienced staff will look after your luggage and transfer it to your cabin onboard SMY WAOW while you enjoy our "refreshing welcome drink". As soon as the last guests are onboard around 04:00pm, you will be introduced to our team and have plenty of time to settle in, get everything ready and enjoy life onboard with us.

Disembarkation
Ambon • AMBON or Maumere • FLORES

Early breakfast befor disembarkation & transfer to the airport or hotel between 06.00am and 11.00am at the latest

Recommandation
All long distance passengers arrive in Bali one day before embarkation day. The boat departs at 04:00pm from Maumere Harbour.

The Cruise

see the video

The Banda Sea is the deepest of the numerous seas that make up the beautiful Indonesian archipelago. Typically, with depths over 4,500m, and the deepest point being over 7,300m, it is a very large body of water stretching for over 1,000 km East to West, and 500 km North to South. The Banda Sea is located North of Flores and South of Seram. While there are island chains on the edges of the Banda Sea, it retains a very “oceanic” feel to it with vast stretches of deep blue water. Within the mid-section of the Banda Sea there are very few mostly tiny islets sticking out of the water from the vast depths, with the next outcrop many miles away. MSY WAOW takes you to those remote places: spots that rise from the abyss to the surface, and therefore provide a haven for marine life to concentrate around. The topography of the sites is a divers dream: to one side slopes or walls covered in a myriad of hard and soft corals, huge barrel sponges and other benthic life forms surrounded by clouds of reef fish - to the other side the deep blue of the Banda Sea – a depth from which spectacular pelagic sea creatures are likely to rise from below. One of the main objectives of this voyage are encounters with those big fish: schools of tunas and jacks, barracudas, Spanish mackerels, but also different shark species – grey reef, silky, silvertip, thresher, and the occasional tiger shark has been spotted by our guests on the dive sites of this itinerary. But the real stars of the show are the hammerhead sharks – on quite a few different locations off the atolls and islands we have found preferred places for schooling hammerheads.

Many dives are dedicated to the search for pelagics. This makes this trip unique for this part of the world – there is still plenty of macro fauna to be found on most dives (it is still Indonesia, after all), but this is not an itinerary specifically for macro photographers – apart from the notable exception of the mating mandarin fish in Banda Neira, the muck dives of Ambon Bay and the critters' paradise of Alor. Talking of unique: how about the day spent diving around Manuk, a volcano that breaches the surface and whose slopes serve as habitat for sea snakes in large numbers…

Another highlight of this ocean going trip is the visit of the Banda Archipelago - the original Spice Islands! A truly magical, goose bump inducing place, as deeply steeped into living history as it gets; we spend three days both visiting the old town with its forts, museums and historic buildings, as well as exploring its rich reefs and enjoying the spectacular exotic topside scenery in between dives.

All in all, this trip can be the trip of a lifetime, with a chance for unforgettable encounters and moments both above and below the waves of the Banda Sea - a stunning place with a certain "off the beaten track" appeal, produce the most impressive "Spices & Snakes" cruise.

Typical dive sites

Maumere Bay

Maumere is a beautiful bay on the north coast of Flores. There is a wealth of macro life to keep any diver fascinated for hours. It’s this diversity that has also made Maumere a perfect place to finish our cruise

Komba Volcano

Komba is an active volcano in the Flores Sea with the smell of sulphur in the air when you are nearby. You'll find sheer walls and ridges all around the island with black volcanic sandy slopes up in the shallows. Colorful walls with soft coral, sea fans and encrusting sponges, lots of reef fish along the walls and out in the blue there's a good chance for bigger stuff like dogtooth tunas, mackerels, jacks, rays, turtles and reef sharks. Another highlight of Komba are the regular eruptions, which which turn the night sky into a spectacular natural firework display that can be witnessed from a safe distance.

Lembata

Beneath the towering Gunumg Api, an active volcano 1,450 metres above sea level to the north of Lembata island, are wonderful sites, dramatic sheer walls, plateaus with beautiful hard corals, overhangs, and black sand critter dives. It’s not uncommon to see predators like reef sharks swim along the reef.

Alor & Pantar

The 3 inactive volcano islands in the Strait between Alor and Pantar make it a perfect combination for some world class diving, with vertical sheer walls, numerous small coves, a good mix of fresh water, slightly sloping silky sand with swift currents that bring so many nutrients in to the bay and provide shelter for critters that take habitat here. From colourful coral to rare pelagic and critters on the seabed, the bay of Alor has it all.

Pulau Wetar

The coast of Pulau Wetar features excellent drop offs, colourful reefs and abundant fish life that swim amongst sea fans, barrel sponges and encrusting soft corals. Because of the deep waters of the Banda Sea the visibility is great and there are good chances for pelagics on the wall.

Gunung Api

Gunung Api is a volcano that last erupted in 1988 and subsequently covered the reef in lava, however the reef has recovered faster than anyone expected. This Volcano sits alone in the middle of the Banda Sea and is home to an amazing variety of birds including shearwaters, terns, boobies, frigates and red-tailed tropic birds to mention a few, but also to sea snakes. For some reason this island in the middle of nowhere is home to hundreds if not thousands of sea snakes, banded & olive sea snakes. They are curious and swim right for you and it seems like every time you look down there is a snake poking around your fin tips! They also wind around to look at their reflection in your camera dome port and are posing for you. They are treating you as part of their environment and have no malicious intent at all.

Dusborgh Reef & Nil Desperandum

The volcanic islands and submerged reefs in the middle of the Banda Sea are calling out for exploration. Drop offs, drift dives, great visibility and the possibility of “pelagic action”.

Jackpot

A treasure closely guarded and lost in the middle of the Banda Sea, this isolated reef runs for several kilometers and is an oasis for pelagic life. Schools of jacks patrol the edges of the reef and are joined by large numbers of hammerhead sharks on a regular basis. The coral is in good health and lovers of the macro fauna won’t be disappointed, however it is more often than not that our heads are facing into the deep blue for a special spectacle.

Manoek

Approaching Manoek Island the odor of sulfur and the sight of fumaroles escaping the steep slopes reminds us that we are definitely in a volcanic zone. Once underwater the hot rocks and ascending bubbles are another reminder of this. Manoek is also one of the largest shelters for thousands of birds. Not only birds but sea snakes, lots and lots of sea snakes.

Banda Island

The Banda area offers a good variety of dive sites, from volcanic rock at Pohon Miring to the black sand in Banda’s harbour, muck diving with flying gurnards spreading their electric blue wings, nervously moving sea moth, nudibranchs and the mandarin fish, which are seen in many places around the harbor of Banda Neira.

Pulau Suanggi & Pulau Ai

A secret place in the middle of the Banda Sea, reached by live-aboard only, makes this another unspoilt reef where not many divers witness the true nature of Pulau Suanggi and Pulau Ai. This area acts like an oasis for pelagics that cruise by these pristine hard coral reefs full of fish, which they all call home. Napoleon wrasse, green & hawksbill turtle, tuna, rainbow runner, huge schools of barracuda mixing with schools of bannerfish, redtooth triggers and fusiliers that sometimes-just cloud the whole reef.

Ambon Bay

The Intensity of marine life in this Bay is unrivalled; with a combination of nutrients pushed into this large bay with lots of small coves where critters can benefit from the passing currents but are still protected by sheltered waters. A unique combination creates conditions that nourish an incredible eco system that makes this bay one of the richest and interesting places to dive. Ambon Bay is also famous for weird species like the Psychedelic Frogfish, right here at a dive site named the twilight zone, where many different kinds of moray eel, sea moth, ribbon eel, stonefish take habitat too. The Ambon shipwreck, a Dutch cargo vessel that sunk during 1950s, is also a very photogenic site and teeming with life.

Land Excursions

Walking around Banda Neira

Enjoy the view of Gunung Api, a 650 metre high active volcano, from the top of Fort Belgica, built by the Dutch in 1611 and located in the historical town of Banda Neira. Clove, Nutmeg, Marc and cinnamon are still the main spices that are grown here. During the cruise SMY WAOW will walk you through the magical smell of the spices that once ruled the world.

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