Snorkeling Halmahera!

Snorkeling the reefs of Halmahera and Raja Ampat!

google map of halmahera and raja ampat, coral triangle adventuresHalmahera, though politically part of the Maluku Islands, is a large rugged, volcanic island that is part of the original island arc that includes Raja Ampat. Located about 150 miles (250 km) to the west of Bird’s Head Peninsula, West Papua, Halmahera gets far less traffic than its neighbor, Raja Ampat. Scientific surveys done in the both areas have found that between Halmahera and Raja Ampat there are over 600 species of corals (nearly 75% of all known species of reef-building corals) and more than 1500 species of tropical marine fish (about half of all known tropical marine fish).
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Both Halmahera and Raja Ampat are breathtakingly scenic islands that offer a dreamy backdrop to the unspoiled underwater wilderness. The majority of the islands, especially the smaller islands and islets are made of limestone and the main islands are mostly volcanic in origin with deposits of limestone. Dense jungle and rainforest dominate hilly and rough terrain, making great habitats for over 500 species of birds including parrots, hornbills, and birds of paradise.
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Our snorkeling tour exposes us to the best shallow reefs and marine habitats in Raja Ampat as well as give us the chance to snorkel new sites in Halmahera as we explore these islands of paradise in the Halmahera Sea. Though our main focus will be on the incredibly rich underwater world, we may have opportunities to view rare or endemic birds, summit dramatic rock islands for incredible views, or relax on idyllic white-sand beaches. This itinerary is perfect for those that want the guarantee of fantastic snorkeling in Raja Ampat combined with the thrill of exploration and discovery.
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ITINERARY

Route map to coral triangle adventure's halmahera raja ampat snorkeling tourOur snorkeling tour begins and ends in Jakarta, Indonesia. One round trip, internal flight (Jakarta-Sorong-Jakarta). Upon our arrival in Sorong, we transfer to our boat and spend the first few days in Raja Ampat before heading west towards Halmahera. Weather and preferences will dictate how long we will stay in Halmahera, but the plan is to explore and snorkel the reef systems in Halmahera for four full days before turning back towards the east and returning to Raja Ampat. Please note that although we visit many of the islands and island groups in the sample itinerary below, each of our departures is unique and that weather, tides, and opportunities to explore all play a role in the decisions about our daily schedule as well as the overall itinerary.

Day 1: Jakarta / Bandara
Meals provided: D
Meet in Jakarta, Indonesia at our group hotel, the Bandara International, for the tour orientation and welcome dinner. As is often the case with our internal flight, we will depart for Sorong in the late evening, thus our ‘overnight’ will be in transit to Sorong. Overnight Bandara

Day 2: Sorong / Transfer to liveaboard
Meals provided: B,L,D
Fly to Sorong and transfer to our liveaboard boat and have our boat orientation and lunch before we depart for our snorkeling adventure into the islands. Overnight on our expedition boat

Day 3: Batanta / Dampier Straight
Meals provided: B,L,D
Raja Ampat is well known for its high levels of marine biodiversity. These levels are so extraordinary because Raja Ampat benefits from being in an extraordinary location on the planet. Large volumes of water flow through the area (bringing food and new life) and its geology promotes speciation through habitat diversity. What makes Raja Ampat special to snorkelers is the access to all of the habitats and diversity!

Our first stop is the island of Batanta on the south side of Dampier Strait. Shallow reefs crowd along the shoreline and contain a mind-blowing diversity of hard corals in every color imaginable. Although it is hard to take your eyes away from the coral, a look out into the clear blue water may reward you with schools of snapper, turtles, and rays. This is also a good spot for finding the wobbegong shark, a type of carpet shark known only from this region of the world.

Day 4: Kofiau Island
Meals provided: B,L,D
We continue westward to the island of Kofiau, located about half way between Batanta and the southern tip of Halmahera. Kofiau is home to several endemic species of bird, but the relatively unexplored reefs around the island and islets are the true treasures that await us! Clear, vibrant reefs with a great diversity and abundance of reef fishes of all shapes and color are on order for the day. The islands also boast some of the areas

Day 5 – 9: Halmahera
Meals provided: B,L,D
We will spend the next four days exploring the variety of reef types of Halmahera including shallow protected reefs, seaward reefs, lagoons, and fringing reefs. Halmahera is still known for its big schools of barracuda and jacks as well as its biodiversity. While this area does get visited several times per year, it still remains largely unexplored for snorkelers. Our excitement in being able to ‘discover’ new sites is almost as high as just having the chance to see further examples of pristine reefs in Indonesia!

Day 10 – 11: Raja Ampat
Meals provided: B,L,D
We spend the next two days back in Raja Ampat, this visiting Misool and reefs around of Len Kafal, Wagmab, and Babolul. These spectacular areas of Misool not only offer fantastic snorkeling with shallow coral gardens and steep coral-encrusted walls, but do so in some of the most beautiful tropical island settings imaginable.

Day 13: Internal departuresDay 12: Jakarta
Meals provided: B,L,D
Internal flight back to Jakarta departs in the early afternoon, expected to arrive in Jakarta around 6:00pm. Overnight

Meals provided: B

DEPARTURES

We are currently exploring dates in 2023. Please Contact Us for more information.

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 13
  • All meals on days 2 through 12 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 13)
  • 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

In the past we have used the Mermaid I for our departures, but there are several live-aboard options available to us in 2023.

DEPARTURES

We are currently exploring dates in 2023. Please Contact Us for more information.

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 13
  • All meals on days 2 through 12 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 13)
  • 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

Halmahera and the islands of Raja Ampat reside within just a few degrees north and south of the equator. Weather year round is hot and humid, with the inevitable daily rain shower occurring in the early morning or late afternoon. Daytime temperatures hover around 86º F (30º C). Water temperatures average around 82º F (28º C), though cooler temperatures may occur if persistent rains cause a thin layer of cool freshwater on the surface. Currents around Halmahera and Raja Ampat may be strong at times. While we plan our snorkel session around the slack tides, we also have several sites where water movement in a linear direction is an advantage. These drift snorkels allow us to cover large tracks of reef without having to swim too hard. Our snorkel sessions are 100% boat supported and two dinghies will be there at all times to assist anyone for whatever reason.

There will be opportunities to visit beaches and shoreline for nature walks as well as the chance to climb (staircases) up to the top of the islands for incredible panoramic views. The beach walks only require loose fitting clothes and foot protection that can get wet (e.g., sandals or neoprene booties). Our summit hikes require sturdy foot wear, though the hike is climbing a series of constructed stairs.

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.

-Underwater Flashlight for our planned night snorkel. Alor has excellent opportunities for night snorkeling and we will take full advantage.

-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

We are currently exploring dates in 2023. Please Contact Us for more information.

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 13
  • All meals on days 2 through 12 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 13)
  • 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

We are currently exploring dates in 2023. We are also looking into a linear itinerary with the tour beginning in North Sulawesi and ending in Sorong in Raja Ampat. Please Contact Us for more information.

Trip Reports


Cuttlefish can be found while snorkeling on many shallow reefs in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Halmahera and Raja Ampat Snorkeling Tour, 2020 Trip Report For the first Coral Triangle Adventures trip of 2020 we embarked