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Snorkelers floating over an amazing reef on the heart of the coral triangle snorkeling tour

Snorkeling in the Heart of the Coral Triangle!

Route map for heart of the coral triangle 2025 snorkeling tourThe coral triangle, a roughly triangular-shaped area encompassing the waters surrounding countries of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, is a geographical term used to describe the region that possesses the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity. As a benefactor of circumstance, age, geography and habitat diversity contribute to the high levels of marine diversity that can be found in this region. Our special, one-of-a-kind departure will bring our small snorkeling group through the very heart of the coral triangle, beginning in the Lesser Sunda Islands and ending in Ambon.
Throughout this journey, we will snorkel many of the remarkable shallow marine habitats throughout this region to experience the incredible profusion of marine life that exists in the heart of the coral triangle. Focusing on the best snorkel sites of Flores, Alor, and the Banda Islands, each day will find us snorkeling an assortment of healthy, shallow coral gardens, narrow channels, black sand slopes, blue water mangroves, and seagrass meadows that serve as vital nurseries. According to the latest estimates, over the course of our trip we should be exposed to close to 2000 species of reef fish and many more thousands of invertebrates!
Our tour begins in Kalabahi, Alor where we will spend a couple of days snorkeling the incredible reefs of Alor. Nutrient-rich waters support a massive number of fish and invertebrates and in our opinion, have some of the fishiest reefs in all of Indonesia. From there, we will follow the Banda arc, island-hopping along the eastern Lesser Sundas before turning north towards the Banda Islands. Many of the islands in the arc are volcanic with incredible fringing reefs packed with healthy coral.
The Banda Islands are the next stop and along with the rich history that revolves around nutmeg and mace, the islands boast incredible scenery and even more magnificent reefs. Not only diverse with coral and fish, but the local waters also support a healthy population of some of the bigger reef fishes like Napoleon wrasse, groupers, snappers, and sharks. We will snorkel along the western edge of Ceram before cruising to Ambon.
Along with our unique opportunity to visit many of the best snorkeling sites in the world, we may have the chance to visit colorful cultures in Alor, stand on top of the 16th century Fort Belgica on Banda Niera, and cruise along rugged and remote volcanic islands. From the uber-fishy reefs of the Alor archipelago to the big fish of the Banda Islands, to the black sand of Ambon, this special heart of the coral triangle expedition has it all!



Route map to the HotCT 2025 snorkeling tourThe heart of the coral triangle snorkeling tour begins and ends in Jakarta, Indonesia. We have one internal flight to Kalabahi and our return flight from Ambon to Jakarta. Our journey on the boat generally follows an east-northeastward route, stopping to visit several islands and island groups along our way (Alor, Banda arc islands, Banda Islands, Ambon). The following is a general itinerary based on a combination of our own experiences in the area and that of the crew onboard our expedition vessel. Please note that this is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Jakarta, Indonesia
Meals provided: D
Arrive in Jakarta, and check in at the group hotel, Anara Airport Hotel. Welcome dinner and trip orientation at the resort. In the late evening, we fly to Kalabahi. Anara Airport Hotel.

Day 2: Kalabahi, Alor / Gaia Love
Meals provided: B,L,D
We arrive in Kalabahi and transfer to the Gaia Love. Timing will dictate our snorkeling schedule today, but we expect to have the entire afternoon to snorkel. Our site will in Alor Strait where extensive, magnificent reefs exists right along the rugged, volcanic islands of Pantar and Alor. The shallow reef extends for nearly two kilometers and with nearly 80% coral coverage we will remain engaged right up to the moment we have to get out :-). Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 3: Alor
Meals provided: B,L,D
We continue our snorkeling activities in Alor, visiting the rich reefs of Babylon and Ternate. Babylon is a shallow fringing reef that is packed with hard and soft corals that grow right up to shore. Critter hunting is particularly productive, but the overall magnificence of this reef will keep everyone enamored. Ternate is an uplifted limestone island with a steep wall that begins in shallow water and often right from the shore. The vertical wall is subjected to currents and, as such, attracts small and large reef fish alike. Look out for turtles and rays! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 4 – 7: Cruising to the Banda Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
On our way to the Bandas we will visit several islands that may include Reong, Romang, Teun, and Manuk where pristine coral reefs dominate the shorelines of these islands born of fire. Our itinerary during this period is strictly dependent upon weather. Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 8 – 11: Banda Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
In the middle of the Banda Sea are a cluster of ten islands that were once known as the Spice Islands for the abundance of the highly sought-after spice called nutmeg. Today the isolated group are better known for their rich reefs and dense schools of fish. We will spend three days exploring some of the best reefs the islands have to offer. Pulau Hatta possesses shallow fringing reefs that plunge to thousands of feet and where schools of jacks, groupers, and snappers mingle with even larger schools of tropical reef fish. This site is also known for the abundance of turtles, rays, large Napoleon wrasses, and sharks.

On Banda Niera we have the chance to see the techno-colored mandarinfish as well as visit the local volcano, Gunung Api, to snorkel the lush reef that grew on top of a lava flow that happened back in 1985. Pulau Ai and Run, both known for their incredibly diverse reefs that teem with thousands of tropical fish, are also absolutely on the schedule. Pulau Run has some of the highest diversity of reef fish we will encounter throughout the entire trip! We will also night snorkel to see the gaudy mandarinfish perform their nightly mating rituals and have the chance to visit Fort Beligica and local nutmeg plantations. Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 12: Nusa Laut / Mamamla
Meals provided: B,L,D
Nusa Laut is an extensive seaward reef with walls that begin in just a few feet of water and plunge to thousands of feet in depth. Along with the huge schools of anthias and damsels that converge at the reef margin, look for turtles, sharks, and pelagic fish such as mantas and mobulas. The coast along the small limestone island of Mamala is made up of limestone boulders, some the size of a 3-bedroom house, that converge to create a convoluted coastline with swim-throughs and grottos. The shallow micro-habitats are perfect for juvenile reef fishes and this reef seems to be very popular for nudibranchs! Overnight Gaia Love.

Day 13: Ambon / Jakarta
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark in Ambon and transfer to the airport for the flight back to Jakarta. Transfer to our group hotel. Group dinner at the hotel. Overnight Anara Airport Hotel.

Day 14: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B


Sept 30 – Oct 13, 2025←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Gaia Love
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 14 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$ 9000 USD per person, double occupancy
$ 12,500 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
March 30, 2025: $4500 USD
June 30, 2025: $4000 USD / $7500 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
  • 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
  • Fuel surcharges (if applicable)

Cancellation policy:
180 – 91 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


We use the finest live-aboard boat in Indonesia to host us on our snorkeling adventures in the heart of the coral triangle, the M/V Gaia Love. In Jakarta, we stay at the Anara Airport Hotel in Terminal 3 of Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. Please visit our accommodations page for more photos or use the link to visit the live-aboard/resort website.


gaia love - coral triangle adventuresThe Gaia Love is a modern 40-meter steel hull vessel build from the ground up in Batam, 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 20 square meters and has individual air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms with hot water. Upper deck rooms 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. 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. The partially shaded sundeck is perfect for evening gatherings and relaxation under the stars.More photos 


Anara Airport Hotel in Terminal 3 used by Coral Triangle AdventuresAnara Airport Hotel is the only integrated hotel with Terminal 3 International Airport Soekarno-Hatta. We present you an experience a new level of comfort to indulge yourself all day. As the 4-star hotel, Anara Airport Hotel has deluxe rooms (28 sqm) with king or twin accommodations, free wi-fi, flatscreen TV with cable and satellite, work desk and chair, hair dryer, mini cooler, and coffee/tea maker. Explore authentic Asian and delightful international cuisines at the Selasih restaurant or relax in the ambiance of the Lobby Lounge. Onsite facilities include a wellness spa and gym and four functional/meeting rooms. The easy access from the international and domestic terminals combined with the elegance of a modern 4-star hotel makes Anara Airport Hotel the perfect choice for business and leisure travelers. More photos 


We travel close to 1000 nautical miles on our journey from Flores to Ambon, spending the entire time bathed in tropical climates with temperatures that hover around 82º F (28º C) during the daytime and fall slightly at night. The occasional morning or afternoon shower may pop-up, but we expect mostly sunny days and clear blue seas.

Water temperatures vary between 68º – 86º F (20º – 30º C). The large range in water temperature reflects the influence of oceanic upwellings that affect the south side of the archipelago. While most of our snorkel sessions will take place in warm water, there are several sites around Alor where we may experience cooler water.

Many of the reefs we will snorkel upon are subjected to currents associated with the large tide cycles that prevail in the area. While we often schedule our session during a time when the currents are minimal, there will be planned drift snorkels. These types of snorkels take advantage of the water movement and allow us to float over the reef without having to actively swim. This activity usually becomes an instant favorite among our guests as it is very exciting and yet very passive at the same time! In some cases, however, the unpredictability of the tides may expose us to strong water movement. This may require a bit of effort though we will always have our dinghies standing by to help if needed.

Our planned walk to visit Fort Beligica is on pavement and well established trails (dirt/rocky). There is some elevation (about 30 meters over a fairly gentle grade) and some exposure, especially on top of the Fort.

Please read more about our daily schedule.


The following list is a suggestion of things to bring and applies to almost all 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 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 layer of silicon used to preserve the mask during shipping. Clean both sides of the mask. 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 from 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 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 your head is extremely important. It is the most exposed part of our bodies when we are floating on the surface.

-Underwater flashlight on departures with a planned night snorkel

-Biodegradable sunscreen lotion. Sunscreen lotions can be harmful and even kill tiny larvae (baby marine life). It is fine to wear on land, but we highly discourage the use of sunscreen lotions in the water. A full wetsuit or dive skin will protect one from the sun much better than lotions and provide 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 our boats provide items like shampoo, soap, towels, etc. We bring this up because these items represent added weight or may leak.

Other items to consider:
-Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower


colorful coral photographed in Raja Ampat by Lee Goldman

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