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Snorkeling the Forgotten Islands!

An Unforgettable Snorkeling Tour to the Forgotten Islands

The Forgotten Islands in Indonesia are one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations we visit on our Coral Triangle Adventures snorkeling toursThis special snorkeling tour takes us way off the beaten path to a chain of islands so remote and so far from population centers that they are collectively referred to as the Forgotten Islands. Geologically part of the Lesser Sundas, the Forgotten Islands are hundreds of volcanic and limestone islands spread eastward from Timor for over 1000 kilometers into the Banda Sea.

The big draw, aside from being able to really get away from it all, is that the reefs are in excellent condition. The relatively small local populations, most of whom are descendants of the original Austronesian-speaking settlers in the islands, and the lack of strong urban development means that few of the environmental pressures that can adversely affect a reef are present. The results are easy to appreciate. Robust, pristine reefs with healthy populations of reef fish both big and small, predator and prey. Furthermore, only a select number of smaller liveaboards have been offering this itinerary within the last couple of years, so most of the area remains largely unexplored. For the adventurous snorkeler, this destination is an opportunity that is just too hard to resist!

We may also have the chance to visit several villages and historical/cultural sites such as the stone boat on Yamdena Island and the colorful and chaotic marketplace of Kalabahi on Alor. If adventure and snorkeling are what you seek, please join us for this amazing departure to the Forgotten Islands!

ITINERARY

Route map for coral triangle adventures snorkeling to to the forgotten islandsOur snorkeling tour begins and ends in Bali, Indonesia. Two round-trip internal flights, Bali -> Saumlaki; Maumere -> Bali. From the Tanimbar Islands (Saumlaki) we follow a northern route before turning west and remaining on that heading until we reach Maumere. Please note that the following is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Bali / Hyatt Regency
Meals provided: D
Meet in Bali, Indonesia at our group resort, the Hyatt Regency, Bali for the expedition orientation and welcome dinner. Overnight Hyatt Regency.

Day 2: Saumlaki, Tanimbar Islands / Gaia Love
Meals provided: B,L,D
After breakfast, we begin our tour with a flight to Saumlaki, Tanimbar Islands where we will transfer to the Gaia Love. Depending upon flight arrival and port clearance times, we may snorkel around the southern end of Yamdena in the late afternoon. Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 3: Tanimbar Islands / Yamdena
Meals provided: B,L,D
There are about 65 islands in the Tanimbar archipelago and we will have the chance to explore the reefs around several of them including Selaru, Sera, Nitu, and Wuliaru. Many of the reefs are fringing and begin right from shore in only a few feet of water. The extensive reefs flats lead to vibrant reef margins where thousands of tropical fish make their homes in the colorful reefs below. With the usually excellent visibility, we may see sharks, turtles, and rays cruising in the cobalt blue waters. Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 4: Babar Islands
Meals provided: D
The reefs along the southeastern end of Masela, the southern island in the Babar group, are enormous and are home to variety of reef habitats including reef flats, channels, shallow reef margins, and seaward drop-offs. The bonus for us is that many of these habitats are relatively close to one and other, giving us the chance to explore many of them on any given snorkel! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 5 – 7: Teun / Reong / Romang
Meals provided: B,L,D
We head north, aiming for a tiny volcanic island called Teun. The relatively new island is not old enough to possess a well-developed fringing reef, but the growth of orange cup corals along the sides of the walls makes this place a can’t miss. Turning westward our next tiny island is Reong, a tiny tropical island that possesses a near perfect hard coral garden. Of course, with the variety and abundance of staghorn and boulder corals, there are insane populations of reef fishes including a master’s class in butterflyfish identification! Our third island, as we leapfrog our way westward to the Alor archipelago, is Romang. Like its neighbor, Romang has healthy shallow reefs and look for zebra dartfish in the shallows! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 8 – 9: Alor
Meals provided: B,L,D
Cool, nutrient-rich waters in Alor produce some of the most brilliant reefs in all of Indonesia. Lush soft and hard coral gardens can be found at almost any place along the coastline and where there is even the slightest bit of water movement, thousands of reef fish will be there to grab food particles from the water. Our sites for the next two days will include semi-protected fringing reefs, calm black sand bays, and shallow reef flats with steep walls that plunge hundreds of feet. For the fish-watcher, these sites may put one into overload! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 10: West Pantar
Meals provided: B,L,D
The southwestern coastline of Pantar is fairly laminar, thus water flowing along the sides travel for many miles unmitigated in its direction or strength. The result are shallow reefs covered like carpets with soft and hard corals. And the strong currents attract the planktivores like anthias and damsels producing schools of the former that count in the tens of thousands! We can drift these reefs for long stretches, never losing sight of colorful corals hidden by a wall of anthias! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 11: Lembata / Adunara
Meals provided: B,L,D
The large northern bay on Lembata is home to an active volcano and a variety of marine habitats. We have several snorkel sites and weather will dictate our choice for the morning. Sites include shallow reef flats, exposed seaward drop-offs, mangroves-lined fringing reefs, and black sand, giving us the opportunity to see large seaward reef fishes like sharks, unicornfishes, snappers, and groupers, or some of the rare and unusual critters like nudibranchs, pipefishes, scorpionfishes, and juvenile angelfishes and sweetlips. In the afternoon, we’ll snorkel along a seaward fringing reef that emanates from a tiny group of islands along the northeast tip of Adunara. The shallow reef is dominated by branching and table corals and currents running parallel to the reef bring out all of the reef fish including rarer denizens like the lyretail grouper and striped blanquillos. Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 12: Pulau Besar / Ribbon Eel Reef
Meals provided: B,L,D
Pulau Besar is a large active volcano that makes up the eastern edge of the Bay of Maumere. The reef system around Pulau Besar is generally fringing, though the section that we call Ribbon Eel Reef is more barrier reef-like system where the reef margin, with a steep outer reef drop-off, lies well away from the island creating a deep lagoon that has a network of shallow platform reefs and coral bommies. Towards the shore are productive seagrass beds leading to healthy stands of mangroves in the tidal zones. Brightly colored table and staghorn corals crowd the shallow reef margins creating a variety of nooks and crannies that support thousands of reef fishes, including the reef’s namesake, blue ribbon eels. Moving from the reef margin across healthy reef flats and into the sea grass communities not only gives us a chance to appreciate the differences in habitats, but also a chance to see rare critters like octopus, seahorses, and cardinal fishes. We’ll spend the entire day exploring the overlapping reef systems, plus floating in calm, warm, clear seawater over this amazing reef is a great way to end our tour, with memories fully intact! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 13: Maumere / Bali / Hyatt Regency
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark in Maumere and transfer to the airport for our flight back to Bali. Farewell dinner at the Hyatt Regency. Overnight Hyatt Regency.

Day 14: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B

DEPARTURES

May 24 – June 04, 2024←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Gaia Love
Guides: TBD
Length: 14 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$USD per person, double occupancy
$USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Nov 24, 2023: $USD
Feb 24, 2024: $USD / $USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 14
  • All meals on days 2 through 13 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 14)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


Accommodations

Photo of the Gaia love in AlorThe Gaia Love is a modern 40 meters steel hull vessel build from the ground up in Batam, Indonesia. It is purpose built to sail and explore the far reach regions of Indonesia and complies with class requirements of BKI (Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia). Designed with a modern contemporary look and with an emphasis on diving in comfort, she accommodates up to 20 guests in ten spacious ensuite rooms: six on the upper deck and four on the lower deck. Each room is approximately 20 square meters and has individual air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms with hot water. Upper deck rooms will feature an additional private outdoor balcony. Gaia Love has a total of four decks (lower, main, upper and top/sundeck). The lounge, restaurant, and camera room are located on the main deck. The lounge has the entertainment center, pantry, snacks and drinks, a spacious couch and library. Adjacent to the lounge is the seating area for plated meals. At the rear is an over-sized dive deck that can accommodate up to 28 divers. There are eleven individual set up stations, each with its own deck bin, cubby, and rinse tank for cameras. The lower boat deck is the boarding area and where two 5.5 meters diving skiffs will always be ready to accommodate passengers. The sundeck is perfect for evening gatherings and relaxation under the stars. Sufficient shelter is available here as well as unshaded areas for those who wish to soak up some sun. Safety is top priority for us. Gaia Love has a well-equipped wheelhouse with up-to-date navigation equipment and advance communication systems and the boat is equipped with life rafts, life vests, EPRIBs, fire protection and firefighting systems. An additional back up RIB is stored on the top deck, easily and swiftly deployable by a one-ton crane, should it be needed. For more info about the Gaia Love click here.


 

The Hyatt Regency in Sanur, Bali, is a beachfront property built on nine hectares of lush tropical gardens. Relax in one of the 363 rooms, designed with contemporary Balinese and Japanese elements and comforts. Each room features a patio or balcony overlooking lush gardens or partial ocean. The property has three gorgeous swimming pools and three restaurants to choose from: Omang Omang, Pizzaria, and Piano Lounge. The hotel is conveniently located near Bali’s main tourist attractions, and the International Airport Ngurah Rai is just 16 km away. Hyatt Regency Bali is a CHSE certified and GBAC STARTMaccredited hotel.

Our room type is the Premium King or Twin. These rooms are 39 square meters and feature a sitting/lounging area and a spacious terrace with easy access to the pools, restaurants, and gardens. For more information about the Hyatt Regency Bali, please click here.


DEPARTURES

May 24 – June 04, 2024←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Gaia Love
Guides: TBD
Length: 14 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$USD per person, double occupancy
$USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Nov 24, 2023: $USD
Feb 24, 2024: $USD / $USD single

 

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 14
  • All meals on days 2 through 13 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 14)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


What to Expect and Bring

WHAT TO EXPECT

Daily temperatures will generally be in the lower to mid 80’s F (26-28º C) with a mix of sun and clouds and the occasional afternoon shower. Water temperatures average around 82º F (28º C), though cooler temperatures may be experienced. Some of the snorkel sites in the Forgotten Islands are subjected to strong currents. While we usually plan for slack tides, we will have some snorkel sessions where we plan to drift with the currents to be able to cover more reef as well as see fishes that are more active during times of stronger water movement. Plus, drift snorkeling is a relaxing way to see large sections of reef. Simply float on the surface and watch as reef life unfolds below. Our tours are 100% boat supported and three dinghies will be there to assist anyone for any reason at any time.

Please read more about our daily schedule here.

WHAT TO BRING

The following list is a suggestion of things to bring and applies to almost all of our trips (specific items on a particular departure will be noted on the departure information).

-A good fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins. If your equipment is brand new, please try it out in the pool. Determining the fit and function of your equipment in the pool includes doing several laps with all of your equipment on. Doing several snorkel dives is also very beneficial. It is also important to clean your new equipment, especially your mask. Cleaning procedures for your mask include light scrubbing with toothpaste or dishwasher soap to remove the light layer of silicon that is used to preserve the mask during shipping and storage. All areas of the mask, both inside and out, need to be addressed. Doing this greatly reduces the chances of having your mask fog. Not doing this, even when using mask de-fogger, usually results in a fogged mask.

-A wetsuit, rash guard, diveskin, or any type of clothing that can be used for thermal and/or protection form the sun. We suggest bringing a full 3mm wetsuit and some type of core insulation like a vest or shirt made of 1 – 2 mm neoprene (e.g., Lavacore or Sharkskin shirts or vests). These items will not only provide thermal protection but protection from the sun as well. For those who feel that a 3mm suit may be too warm, please consider a full body skin or rash guard to ensure protection from the strong sun. With regards to thermal protection, remember the saying: it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have. One that note…

-Head protection in the form of a wetsuit hood, a cap, or even a bandana. Anything that can keep the sun off of your head is extremely important. It is the most exposed part of our bodies when we are floating on the surface.

-Biodegradable sunscreen lotion. Okay, this is a tricky suggestion. Even many biodegradable sunscreen lotions have been shown to harm and even kill tiny larvae (baby marine life ranging from fish to all types of invertebrates especially coral). It is fine to wear on land, but we highly discourage the use of sunscreen lotions in the water. Having a full wetsuit or skin will do the job of protection from the sun much better than lotions and the suits also help with thermal protection. It is truly a win-win for everyone and the marine environment.

-Casual, lightweight, tropical clothing
-Sunglasses (and a spare in case you lose your main pair)
-Comfortable footwear such as active sandals (Teva, Keen, Merrell, etc.)
-Hats. We cannot stress the importance of a hat in the tropics!
-All of our boats provide items like shampoo, soap, towels, etc. We bring this up because these items represent added weight and if they leak, less-than-fun times during the unpacking stage of the trip.

Other items that may be considered:
-Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower

DEPARTURES

May 24 – June 04, 2024←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Gaia Love
Guides: TBD
Length: 14 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$USD per person, double occupancy
$USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Nov 24, 2023: $USD
Feb 24, 2024: $USD / $USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 14
  • All meals on days 2 through 13 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 14)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information

 

Departures

gaia love - coral triangle adventures

May 24 – June 04, 2024←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Gaia Love
Guides: TBD
Length: 14 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$USD per person, double occupancy
$USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Nov 24, 2023: $USD
Feb 24, 2024: $USD / $USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 14
  • All meals on days 2 through 13 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 14)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost; 90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost. In any event of cancellation we will endeavor to find a replacements. In the case we find replacement guests we may be able to offer a partial refund or may transfer some or all payments to another departure.

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information

Trip Reports


Coral whip goby photographed by coral triangle adventures while snorkeling in Indonesia
Snorkeling uber fishy eastern Indonesia I really enjoy the challenge of trying to take photos of colorful tropical fishes while
Trip Report: Snorkeling the Heart of the Coral Triangle, Sept. 23-Oct. 11, 2019 What an epic journey we just completed!
aerial view of Wayil - coral triangle adventures
Using drones to look for reefs to snorkel upon Flying drones in Raja Ampat! Where once we were confined to
blue ring octopus photographed in the Banda Islands
Banda Islands Snorkeling Tour, Nov, 2017 Trip Report Admittedly, I am always excited to visit the Banda Islands for the
Mastigias jelly reflection photographed in Raja Ampat
Banda Islands Snorkeling Tour, 2015 Trip Report Spice Islands 2015. Standing on Bandaneira it was hard to imagine the impact
Triggerfish, Hatta Island, Bandas, Indonesia, Ethan Daniels
Pulau Hatta, Banda Islands Drifting above the edge of a vertical drop off the radiated from Hatta in the Banda