Undeveloped, distant from populated areas and off the beaten track, Ambon and Banda Islands have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world. Calico Jack has a number of routes of Banda sea diving, include some of these islands, in combination with Raja Ampat.
Remote islands being of Ambon and Banda islands – because of their exposure to waves and vagues – accessible to diving liveaboards only during calm intermonsoon periods, divers are rare and many sites are still waiting to be discovered.
Liveaboard Cruises Ambon – Banda Sea (Maluku)
Maluku offers some of the best diving in Indonesian waters and are for true explorers and adventure divers and snorkelers seeking out something unique and special. You can expect to find plenty of rare and unusual critters and stunning corals, but also fantastic opportunities for pelagic sightings and schools of larger fish such as barracuda and mackerel, as well as the chance to meet an elusive whale shark and large numbers of hammerhead sharks.
The Banda Islands, Maluccas and the Spice Islands – names of the most enigmatic and romantic past, evoking mystery, daring and fortunes made and lost. Here the world was shaped and the great powers fought over small Islands for the fortunes found within in the form of spices, then unique to this small archipelago. These days you can explore, discover and dive aboard the Calico Jack charter diving boat, this unspoiled beautiful and remote part of Indonesia.
Maluccas Diving Adventures
The greater region comprising many diverse Islands and dive sites is known collectively as the ‘Maluccas’ with Ambon as the defacto capital and main Airport.
The island is mountainous, well-watered, and fertile. Ambon Island consists of two territories: the main city and seaport Ambon, which is also the capital of Maluku province and Maluku Tengah. Ambon Island lies off the south-west coast of the much larger Seram Island. It is on the north side of the Banda Sea, part of a chain of volcanic islands that encircle the sea.
Lying South East off the much larger Seram Island is the historical center - the Bands Islands, a relatively small and unassuming collection of beautiful dive sites and Islands considering the trouble they once caused.
Exploration in Indonesia
Calico Jack cruises vary amongst this wide and diverse region, in September we leave Alor and head slowly North East through numerous Islands heading to the Hammerhead schooling regions around Sumlaki, imagine diving amongst schools of Hammerhead Sharks for this once in a year congregation of these beautiful Sharks. Then in late September/October we cruise north through to the Banda Islands and Ambon. In May we return through these waters carrying you from Raja Ampat down through East Seram, the Banda Islands and then into Ambon. This is remote wild and amazing cruising and this really was why we built Calico Jack to allow us to all explore those places regular tours cannot imagine reaching.
Ambon is often the drop off point for our Cruises here - this amazing ancient natural harbour has attracted the worlds rogues and fortune seekers for centuries. Today it is on most divers wish list - just within the bay you can find the amazing psychedelic frogfish, critters of all sorts, mimic octopus, zebra crabs and innumerable Nudibranch species and so many colours of Scorpionfish unique to Ambon. Also within this bay is a vibrant shipwreck the SS Aquila, this 134m long wreck is still in great condition lying 15-35m deep and is now a vibrant home to many colours of soft corals and attracted schools of fish to its bridge and holds.
Calico Jack cruising through this remote seascape takes you diving at the best sites of the region - Nusa Laut protected these days to such positive effect by the local villagers provides pristine reefs and is a firm favourite for many diving here. Then the extraordinary Hukurila Cave - consisting of 2 submerged stone arches visible form the surface. Here you drop into a dive following through winding passages and cavernous swim through teaming with marine life. Then there are remote Islands home to thousands of nesting seabirds at Manuk Island - below however this sight is overshadowed by the myriad of Sea Snakes teaming and passing underwater! The Volcanic vents and resulting warm thermoclines here are the attraction to
these cold blooded snakes allowing large numbers to thrive.
Banda harbour is a stunning Anchorage situated beneath a picture perfect Volcano on one side and overlooked by the ancient fort and colonial ruins on the other, don’t miss a chance to explore these old wharves, houses and forts to allow your imagination to be captured with sites and smells of the Spice Trade. Covering a large area but relatively under populated the reefs and natural marine life has survived the ravages and overfishing sadly seen elsewhere. This is a blessing for divers searching pristine and healthy corals populated my myriad species of fish in huge numbers. You will encounter numbers of Pelagic, varied muck diving and explore healthy and vibrant reef systems underwater, whilst on land you will move amongst the ruins of a colonial era that time forgot. The History is as vivid as the diving indeed it was to these waters and Islands that Christopher Columbus hoped to find a westerly route when he stumbled on the Americas!
Raja Ampat National Park and Misool Island
The archipelago of Raja Ampat forms part of the so-called Coral Triangle, and it also has its own National Marine Park, which includes the waters of Misool Island. This protected zone is the home to unique species like the dugong and to hundreds of corals inhabiting its crystal waters, ideal for tranquil dives to watch and photograph the innumerable species making up its diverse marine ecosystem. Misool Island has several outstanding dive sites, including Fiabecet, Jamur and Kaleidoscope. There you can observe a stunning array of species like clown fish, manta rays, white tip sharks, many types of mollusks, and showy corals.
Booking Your Holiday Online
Please check our Schedule to see the cruises through this amazing region each year and where we start and end, most cruises are 11nights in duration allowing some serious exploration and varied dives to provide the most incredible liveaboard dive boat experience and the memory of a lifetime.
We are happy to help with your domestic flights and the logistics of reaching the point of departure, we work with a very experienced flight booking agent ‘VIFA Tours and Travel’ based
in Makassar- with a long experience dealing predominantly with divers for Indonesia.
The sample itinerary below highlights what you can expect on one of our Ambon diving cruises in the areas of Ambon, Banda and Misool (Raja Ampat). Please note that each cruise is unique and subject to change; navigation and dive sites may vary due to weather conditions, currents, waves and visibility. Exact routes for each cruise will be organised in accordance with the weather forecast for that region. Strong currents, for example, may mean that the exact location and/or timing of planned dives may be altered on safety grounds and to suit local conditions. It is always possible to discuss and agree on alternative itineraries following consultation with the Captain and other guests.
DAY 1 | Embarkation in Ambon. Maluku (1 Dive)
We will pick you up at Ambon airport and take you to the harbour where our crew will welcome you onboard Calico Jack. Following refreshments and a short tour of the ship, you will be briefed on safety, the diving operations, and life onboard. You will be served a delicious lunch and have time to get acquainted with the ship, set up your dive gear & cameras and to meet and socialise with the other guests and friendly crew. We will do a check dive in the area later in the afternoon. Early morning we will navigate to Nusa Laut.
DAY 2 | Nusa Laut & Molana (3 Dives)
Early morning, we arrive at the beautiful Amet Reef. Whilst situated only a few hours from Ambon, it is a great example of successful grass roots conservation efforts. The locals have instilled sustainable methods to protect their reef and as a result, the corals are outstanding and a favorite amongst dive enthusiasts. White tips and reef sharks patrol the depths and playful turtles can be spotted. For the incredibly lucky, hammerhead sharks and dugongs have also been spot-ted at this site. After lunch, we will navigate to Molana Wall. The shallow wall breaks in places and in the sandy slopes, ribbon eels, small pipefish and moray eels can be found. Above the reef, turtles are seen feeding in the beautiful coral garden. In the afternoon, we will navigate towards Pulau Ai & PulauRun (Banda Islands).
DAY 3 | Pulai Ai & Pulau Run Banda Islands (3 Dives)
Early morning, we arrive in Pulau Ai. This dive site, on the island of Ai, translates to Umbrella Rock as there are many overhangs along the walls of the island. You will be able to drift along the wall and enjoy the view of thousands of tiny reef fish darting in and out of the cracks and crevices. For the second dive of the day, we’ll move onto Little Manhattan which is next to the island of Run. In 1667, the English traded the island of Run for Manhattan, giving the Dutch full control of the Banda archipelago. White sandy slopes interspaced with large coral heads and a healthy reef makes this a very beautiful dive site. A resident school of bumphead parrotfish may be spotted here, as well as passing eagle rays. The third dive for the day will be an exploratory dive off Pulau Run. This region is full of unexplored dive sites and the Banda Sea is the perfect location for the discovery of new underwater treasures.
DAY 4 | Banda Neira Tour & Banda Islands (3 Dives)
Early morning, we will head to Banda Neira where you will have the chance to explore the remaining remnants of the former lucrative spice trade as well as take in the historic and cultural legacies of the islands. You will spend the morning walking through the town and be given the chance to observe the Dutch colonial architecture which remains to this day, as well as Fort Belgica with its incredible views overlooking the bay around the island. Before lunch, you will dive at Batu Kapal, which when translated means ‘boat rock’. A submerged pinnacle, the site has a rock breaking the surface of the water in the shape of a boat, hence the name.
Various types of fish are present here in vast numbers, along with huge gorgonian fans and some truly monumental sponges. Your second dive will be at Pohon Miring. At this site, a large crack in the reef cre-ates a deep swim-through which you can drift through and view the sponge-cov-ered wall on the other side. Moral eels can be spotted at the top of the wall as well as schools of bumphead parrotfish. Late in the afternoon, you will have a sunset dive at Banda’s jetty. In the shallows and amongst the stones from collapsed sea walls and jetties, mandarin fish congregate. This particular spot is one of the best in the world to spot mandarin fish.
DAY 5 | Banda Islands (3 Dives)
Karang Hatta is a reef located South East of Pulau Hatta. The dive sites in this region are closest to the 6,000 metre deep Banda trench, making it an intriguing area as the chances of encountering pig pelagic species are quite high. Schooling trevallies, barracudas, tuna, turtles, as well as hammerhead and grey reef sharks can be spotted close to this underwater mount. You will have two dives in this area, dependent upon the conditions, and then sail to the main island of Pulau Hatta were you will dive in front of the West shore beach where a 5 metre hole in the reef opens up to the sea. You can dive down through the hole and find yourself looking back to what appears to be a bridge in the reef. The bridge is covered with soft corals, and large gorgonian fans underneath are home to various pigmy seahorses Overnight navigation to Pulau Koon.
DAY 6 | Pulau Koon .Ceram (3-4 Dives)
Pulau Koon is a small island on the southeast of Ceram, half way between Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands. Underwater there are walls covered in soft corals, and sandy slopes with hard coral bommies. But the most interesting feature of this island is the amount of schooling fish and pelagic, barracudas, bigeye trevallies, aggregation of red snappers, pompanos, batfish, and giant groupers.3 great dives in this area before setting sailing towards Misool Raja Ampat.
DAY 7-11 | Southern Raja Ampat/Misool (16 - 18 Dives)
Misool is located South of Raja Ampat and is famous for its steep rocks with vertical walls, profusion of soft, colourful corals, sea fans draped brilliantly over the reefs and plenty of fish.The islands around East Misool are grouped by areas. These are the areas you can expect to visit (weather permitting) and the most popular dive sites we frequent
DAY 7 | Wayilbatan (Dunia Kecil, Barracuda Rock, Four Kings, Wedding Cake) + Night Dive
The Wayilbatan area offers impressive dive sites with a remarkable range of marine diversity as well as topography. At Wedding Cake, schools of batfish, trevallies, barracuda and pygmy seahorses congregate. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to take in the scenic landscapes with some kayaking and paddle boarding amongst the most spectacular hidden lagoons in the region. Four Kings dive site is made up of four underwater pinnacles covered in soft coral and colourful tunicates. You can swim from one rock to the next, enjoying the soft corals, psychedelic colours and abundant fish life. Be sure to look out for turtles here.
DAY 8 | Warokaraket/Boo Island - (Shadow Reef, Jamur Boo, Yellit Kecil or Besar) + Night Dive
Shadow Reef, also known as Magic Mountain is one of the top rated diving sites in Raja Ampat.
An offshore pinnacle with a long and narrow ridge, shoals of bannerfish, pyramid butter-fly and yellow snappers can be seen cavorting on top of the ridge, persistently stalked by giant trevallies, orange-spotted jacks & longnose emperors.
The ridge goes progressively down, with yellowtail barracudas patrolling the upper sector and white tip and grey reef sharks found nestled under the large coral tables. At the end of the peninsular is a cleaning station where oceanic manta rays come to be cleaned from parasites by wrasse and other reef fish.
Boo Rock or Jamur Boo is known for the “windows” or rounded openings on the end of the largest rock that completely pierce the reef from the surface down to five meters deep. Although the two rocks appear separate from the surface, they are in fact con-nected underwater by a magnificent reef draped in soft corals and brimming with fish. Reef sharks, parrotfish, surgeonfish, schooling batfish, fusiliers, snappers and moray eels are all found here, as well as a wide variety of nudibranchs, unicornfish, octopus and green turtles.
Yellit Kecil’s (whilst sharing all of the attributes of its neighbouring sites) main character-istic is the large number of nembrotha nudibranchs that can be observed on the ridge.
DAY 9 | Yilliet - (Whale Rock, Nudi Rock and Tank Rock)
In the early morning, we will take a short navigation to dive the Fiabacet area where colourful soft corals and beautiful sea fans smother the reefs. A deep underwater ridge connects the islands of Boo in the East, to Kalig in the West. In certain areas, the ridge moves up shallower to form the most unforgettable dive sites of the park. These include Batu Kecil (also known as Tank Rock), Nudi Rock and Whale Rock. Here you will find one of the most extensive reef systems in all of Raja Ampat; offering an amazing range of marine diversi-ty. You can expect to see abundant and healthy fish life, a galore of pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, colourful anemones and reef sharks.
DAY 10 | Daram - (Candy Store, Warna Berwana, Andiamo)
Andiamo is a large, stunning reef with a submerged pinnacle covered in sea fans and surrounded by schools of fusiliers and batfish. Black tip reef sharks and napoleon wrasse can also be found here.
Candy Store, named so as the first divers to explore this reef felt like kids in a candy store, is covered in huge sponges, beautiful soft corals and sea fans. In the valleys, schools of fusiliers, butterfly fish and barracuda gather
DAY 11 | Balbulol - (No Contest, Love Potion, Number 9, Pet Rock)
Schools of platax, snapper and bump head parrotfish can be found at these dive sites, including barracudas and jacks surrounding the pinnacles. You will spend the afternoon in the hidden lagoon; a very special anchorage inside a narrow bay enclosed by towering rocks. We will take the dinghies to explore another lagoon located further into the rocks and as night falls, you will see and hear the magnificent Palm Cockatoos roosting along the rainforest edges.Late in the afternoon , we will depart North and set sail for an overnight cruise back to Sorong ; a navigation of approximately 12 hours.
DAY 12 | Disembarkation in Sorong
After breakfast and the last exchange of photos and memories, the crew and Calico Jack will say our fondest farewell’s and transport you either to your hotel or airport.
We are look forward to having you on board!
The Calico Jack Team
Ambon flights landing at Pattimura Airport is an airport in Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia (IATA: AMQ, ICAO: WAPP). It is 38 kilometers of the city of Ambon. The airport was named after Pattimura, an Indonesian national hero who fought against the Dutch colonialists in the nineteenth century.
Currently there are no regularly scheduled international flights to or from Ambon, so the international terminal is used for domestic flights which are operated with larger airplanes and can make use of the two jet bridges for easier loading and unloading of the airplanes – especially during rain.
Some of major airlines are Batik Air, Garuda Indonesia, Nam Air, Trans Nusa and Wings Air.
There are direct flights to Ambon (Maluku) from Jakarta, Surabaya and Makassar as well as from small airports in Maluku and West Papua. With four airlines offering flights from Jakarta to Ambon each day, it is usually more time and cost effective to travel through Jakarta. Time constrained divers can make use of the overnight flight with Lion Air or Batavia, or for those with a more relaxed schedule, there is the opportunity to rest at one of a choice of convenient airport hotels before an early start to Ambon.
Jakarta airport has a free shuttle bus between the international and domestic terminals until 11 pm, taking up to 30 minutes. After that a taxi can take you between the terminals. Indonesian domestic flights are often delayed, so please plan enough time for your travel and connections.
JAKARTA - AMBON Batik Air ID6170 etd 0030 eta 0600
JAKARTA - AMBON Lion Air JT790 etd 0130 eta 0700
JAKARTA - AMBON Garuda Indonesia GA640 eta 2345 eta 0650+1
You will experience first-rate diving on our cruises. Our professional and experienced instructors and guides provide you with thorough briefing of the dive site before each dive as well as supervision on every dive. Our diving platform allows for easy embarkation and our two outboards (including 1 Yamaha speedboat affectionately named Ferrari, the other Lamborghini) take you directly to the open sea dive sites. With 2 compressors on board, you can expect to complete 3 to 4 dives per day, with alternating night dives. We also have full sets of high quality diving equipment available for rental. There is a hot shower on deck to rinse off easily before and/or after each excursion. Snorkelers are encouraged to join our trips as we make sure to offer a variety of explorative options for all of our guests. The abundance and diversity of coral species and the healthy of reef life ensure some of the most unparalleled diving and snorkelling in the world.
Species you will meet
Barracudas, Surgeonfishes, Bumphead parrot fishes, Trevallies and giant trevallies, spafefishes. Napoleon wrasse, Wobbegon, Tunas, Bonitos, Waow, Manta rays, Mobulas, Seahorse, frogfish, leaf fish, Scorpion fish. Black corals forests, Gorgonian fields, Soft corals.
Currents are consistent on a number of dives while some others are really quiet. Some dives on reefs or pinnacles have to be done on the current exposed side in order to enjoy the best fish life and can therefore be slightly “sporty”. Our dive guides always check the current conditions before the dive and will inform you of the conditions. A reef hook is recommended.
Number of dives
In the course of our diving cruises you will enjoy 3 dives/day with alternating night dives.
The average visibility is 15-20 meters but may be lower in some specific areas or for short periods.
Diving experience required
Advanced level PADI/CMAS Level 2 or higher, with a minimum of 50 logged dives in the sea.
Water temperature is 28-29 °C in the all area.