Snorkeling the Coral Triangle!

Snorkeling in the Heart of the Coral Triangle!

heart of the coral triangle satellite map coral triangle adventuresThe 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 Raja Ampat.
X
Throughout this 16-day journey (18 days overall), we will snorkel and explore many of the remarkable shallow marine habitats throughout this region to experience the incredible profusion of marine life that exists there. Focusing on the best snorkel sites of Flores, Alor, the Banda Islands, and Raja Ampat, 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!
X
Our tour begins on Flores home of the Homo floresiensis, where we board our boat and sail east towards the Alor archipelago. The Solor and Alor archipelagoes make up the majority of islands along the eastern end of the Lesser Sundas. Nutrient-rich waters support a massive amount of fish and invertebrates and in our opinion, have some of the fishiest reefs in all of Indonesia. 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, the local waters also support a healthy population of some of the bigger reef fishes like Napoleon wrasse, groupers, snappers, and sharks. Our final leg of the tour takes place in Raja Ampat, where we will visit some of the best reefs of Misool, Dampier Strait, Batanta and Waigeo. 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 through magnificent limestone islands in Misool. From the uber-fishy reefs of the Alor archipelago, to the big fish of the Banda Islands, to the majestic limestone islands of Raja Ampat, this 16-day expedition has it all!
X

ITINERARY

Route mapf ro coral triangle adventures heart of the coral triangle snorkeling tourOur snorkeling adventure begins and ends in Bali, Indonesia. We have one internal flight to Maumere and our return flight from Sorong to Bali – but please note this itinerary may be scheduled in reverse with the internal flights arriving in Sorong and departing Maumere. Our journey on the boat generally follows an east-northeastward route, stopping to visit several islands and island groups along our way (Alor, Banda Islands, Raja Ampat). 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: Bali, Indonesia
Meals provided: D
Arrive in Sanur, Bali check in at the group resort Puri Santrian*. Welcome dinner and trip orientation at the resort. Overnight Puri Santrian

Day 2: Maumere / Pindito
Meals provided: B,L,D
A leisurely morning leads up to our transfer to the chartered live-aboard boat* our home on the water for the next 16 days. After our boat orientation and lunch we depart for the Alor archipelago. In the late afternoon and if time permits, we will snorkel Ribbon Eel Reef, named for the abundance of blue ribbon eels that can be found along the shallow reef margin. *Overnight TBD  – In the past we have used the M/V Pindito and while we may charter her again, we have several options available to us in 2023.

Day 3 – 5: Solor / Pantar / Alor 
Meals provided: B,L,D
Our snorkeling sites for the next four days revolve around the islands in the Solor and Alor archipelagoes. The reefs that can be found in these scenic island groups are incredibly colorful and diverse. Sites like Feather Star City where hundreds, if not thousands, of feather stars perch atop corals and shine like jewels against the backdrop of black sand; Angel Reef, named for the high density and diversity of colorful angelfishes; Babylon an incredibly lush reef packed with hard and soft corals, and a new site we discovered we named Anthias Forever, a swift moving channel where hundreds of thousands of anthias crowd the reef margin along the nearly one kilometer-long channel. We will also visit Beangabang Bay. This little bay was created by ancient lava flows from the nearby, still active volcano. The cool water from the Savu Sea mixes with hot thermals to create a surreal snorkeling experience. The black sand beaches possess some of the richest assortment of unusual critters like garden eels, seahorses, pipefishes, scorpionfishes, nudibranchs, and octopuses. There are few places in the world where we have the chance to see such a diversity of marine life in such a small area. If time permits, we will arrange a visit to the hill tribes of Alor as well as the market places of Kalabahi, the capital city of Alor. Overnight TBD

Day 6 – 9: Cruising to the Banda Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
On our way to the Bandas we will visit several islands with possibilities that 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.

Day 10 – 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 access the local volcano Gunung Api to snorkel on a lush reef that grew on top of a lava flow that happened back in 1985. Pulau Ai and Run, both known for their diverse shallow reefs that teem with tropical fish, are also on the list of sites we will visit. We will also have the chance to visit Fort Beligica and local nutmeg plantations.

Day 12 – 16:  Pulau Koon / Misool, Raja Ampat 
Meals provided: B,L,D
On our way to Misool, Raja Ampat, we will stop at Pulau Koon for the chance to snorkel a seaward reef that has schools of barracuda, jacks, snapper, and just about every tropical fish you can imagine! The rest of our days will be spent in Raja Ampat, arguably the center of the center of marine biodiversity on the planet. Our first destination is the island groups of Misool. It is not the main island of Misool that attracts us, rather the hundreds of limestone islands that lie just offshore. Each island grouping has a variety of reef habitats that include sheltered bays, shallow reef flats, and exposed seaward slopes and walls.  It would not be a stretch to say and few would argue that these islands possess some of the most amazing coral gardens on the planet. Furthermore, the diversity of habitats offers the snorkeler a chance to explore mangroves, seaward reefs, protected lagoons, swift channels and shallow sand patches where a good eye can find scorpionfishes, seahorses, and maybe even the fantastic wobbegong shark!  Some of the fringing reefs extend for hundreds of meters and are covered with a dazzling amount of both soft and hard corals. Along with the incredible diversity of coral and fish that can be seen in just a few meters of water, these areas also boasts some of the most scenic island settings imaginable.

Day 17: Sorong / Bali
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark in Sorong and transfer to the airport for the flight back to Bali. Transfer to our group hotel in Bali. Group dinner at the hotel. Overnight Puri Santrian.

Day 18: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B

DEPARTURES

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

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 18
  • All meals on days 2 through 17 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 18)
  • 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 M/V Pindito. And while we may charter it again for this departure, we do have several options available to us in 2023.


Puri Santrian is a modern Balinese resort strategically positioned on the beach at the tranquil southern end of Sanur. Close to several historic sites of interest, it is an upmarket area with strong cultural roots where tradition permeates all aspects of daily life. Cocooned within a mature tropical garden, the hotel presents a choice of elegant Balinese accommodation options supported by essential lifestyle facilities. For more information about the Puri Santrian click here.


DEPARTURES

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

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 18
  • All meals on days 2 through 17 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 18)
  • 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

We travel close to 1000 nautical miles on our journey from Flores to Raja Ampat, 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 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 and the Banda Islands have 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 for this departure in 2023. Please Contact Us for more information.

Accommodations: TBD
Guides: TBD

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 18
  • All meals on days 2 through 17 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 18)
  • 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 October – November 2023. 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
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!
close up of anemonefish photographed in Alor, Indoneisa
Alor Snorkeling Tour, 2018 Trip Report Alor 2018 trip report. Unbelievable. That one word is certainly an apt description of
manta rays gliding over reefs in Raja AMpat, photographed by coral triangle adventures
Raja Ampat Snorkeling Tour, Feb, 2018 Trip Report   Raja Ampat Feb 2018 trip report. Do I begin with how
Choclate chip sea stars in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat Snorkeling Tour, Nov, 2017 Trip Report Raja Ampat 2017 trip report. Another superlative CTA excursion through the very
Soft coral and snorkeler in Alor, Indonesia
Alor, Indonesia Snorkeling Tour, May, 2019 Trip Report The Lesser Sunda Islands never seem to disappoint snorkelers with the region’s
Nembrotha Kubaryana head shot with a black background
Komodo National Park Snorkeling Tour, 2015 Trip Report Our recent snorkeling trip to Komodo National Park was outstanding…but honestly having
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