Banda sea liveaboard diving is defiantly a unique experience. Undeveloped, distant from populated areas and off the beaten track, "Forgotten Islands" have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world.
The Calico Jack charter dive boat has a number of routes that, include some of these mysterious islands, in combination with Raja Ampat, Komodo and a range of islands in the Banda Sea, Indonesia.
Forgotten Islands Liveaboard Diving
These remote islands being - 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.
The Forgotten Islands offer some of the best diving in Indonesian waters and are for true explorers and adventure divers and snorkelers seeking out something unique and special.
Cruise Boat Holiday Bookings
Holiday-makers on livaboard diving boat cruises 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.
Our charter boat holidays cover a range of cruises in the Forgotten Islands so get in touch with the Calico Jack crew to ask a question or to discuss your liveaboard dive boat cruise holiday in beautiful Indonesia.
The sample Banda sea Liveaboards diving itinerary below highlights what you can expect on one of our cruises in the areas of Maumere, Alor and the Forgotten Islands. 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 organized 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 Maumere (1 Dive)
We will pick you up either at your hotel or Maumere 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. We will have a check dive in the area before setting sail in the evening, cruising through the night to Pulau Komba. This will allow time for you to get acquainted with the ship, set up your dive gear & cameras and to meet and socialise with the other guests and friendly crew.
Day 2 | Pulau Komba (3 dives)
Early morning we arrive at Pulau Komba. A very much alive and active volcano, it is well-known for its consistent eruptions which go off every 15 minutes, and the incredible number of dive sites along the reefs surrounding it. Giant coral formations, swarms of small fish, hunting dogtooth tuna and a plethora of other sea life patrol these waters. You will experience 3 dives in Komba and witness an unforgettable sunset; watching the last light of the day disappear below the crater as it erupts. In the evening we set sail, with an overnight navigation to Alor.
Day 3 - 4 | Alor, Pantar Strait (6 – 8 dives)
The reefs of Alor and the waters of Pantar Strait are some of the most pristine marine ecosystems throughout Indonesia. Apart from its immaculate coral reefs, stunning walls, sponges and anemones, Alor is renowned for its immense variety of reef fishes and rich macro fauna. During dry season (June to October), visibility can sometimes reach an incredible depth of 40 metres/130 feet. Frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, pigmy sea horses, eels, see snakes and an impressive assortment of nudibranchs are just a few of the species you may encounter. With its exhilarating currents, big pelagic species often present themselves. Hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, thresher shark, Mola Mola (Sunfish) and pods of dolphin are spotted in this region frequently. Whales are also known to pass through. You will experience 3 unforgettable days of diving in Alor before travelling further East to Pulau Romang.
Day 5 | Pulau Romang (2 dives)
Early morning we arrive in Pulau Romang. This large island is becoming increasingly popular amongst liveaboard charters as new, previously unknown dives sites are being discovered along the Forgotten Island route each day. You will have 2 dives in this location and will also have the chance to visit one of the friendly local villages. We will have an overnight navigation to reach Pulau Terbang in the morning.
Day 6 | PulauTerbang & Pulau Damar (4 dives)
Early morning, you will wake within the stunning islands of Pulau Terbang & Pulau Damar. These idyllic islands are surrounded by pristine beaches that stretch out to coral reefs dropping down to the most beautiful, unspoiled walls. From top to bottom, the reef is a kaleidoscopic explosion of colours and shape-shifting forms from the constant motion of swarms of fish. You may find yourself floating in the midst of a large school of fish as the marine life here appear quite curious, perhaps because they are not yet accustomed to divers. If weather conditions are favourable, you may also have the chance to do a black sand night dive. We will have an overnight navigation to reach Pulau Nils in the morning.
Day 7 | Pulau Nils & Pulau Dusborgh (4 dives)
After an early morning’s breakfast, we gear up for our first opportunity to come face-to-face with schooling hammerhead sharks. Pulau Dusborgh has only recently been uncovered to be a hot spot for schooling hammerheads at this particular time of year. We will attempt to have 2 dives here dependent upon current and weather conditions, before sailing back to Pulau Nils for a beautiful dive on an unspoiled reef. The evening will be concluded with a night dive in the area before setting sail and cruising overnight to reach Nil Desperandum.
Day 8 | Nils Desperandum (2-3 dives)
Nil Desperandum, which when translated means “don’t despair”, possibly refers to a ship that was wrecked here centuries ago. A big atoll with very steep drop offs, schooling sharks including hammerheads, silky and grey reef sharks can be spotted in the deep. This site has proved to be one of our most incredible encounters, and we have high hopes for it to deliver again.
Day 9 | Manuk (3 dives)
The island of Manuk forms the Eastern-most volcanic island off Indonesia, and possesses two very exceptional highlights, both above and below the water. Myriads of beautiful seabirds, including frigates and boobies, glide overhead, flocking to take advantage of Manuk’s rich sea-life. Below the shoreline however, large numbers of sea snakes can be found undulating through the waters. It is believed that the geothermal vents present in these waters attract the cold blooded serpents in droves. In addition to these distinct natural marvels, the island’s reefs are a stunning combination of coral covered walls and slopes in all sizes and colours. Outstanding arrays of reef fish congregate on the reef, including tuna, jacks and sharks. In the evening, we will navigate to Pulau Hatta (Banda Islands).
Day 10 | Banda Islands (4 dives)
Formerly known as the Spice Islands, Banda is an isolated group of islets in the midst of the vast expanse of the Banda Sea. Once the world’s foremost supplier of nutmeg, the remote islands served as a main port along the old spice route. The region is renowned, not just for its fascinating colonial history, but for its incredible diving and snorkelling. 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. 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 11 | Banda Neira Tour & Banda Islands (2 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 creates a deep swim-through which you can drift through and view the sponge-covered wall on the other side. Moral eels can be spotted at the top of the wall as well as schools of bumphead parrotfish.
Day 12 | Pulau Ai & Pulau Run (3 dives)
Early morning, we will set sail towards Batu Payung. 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. In the evening, we set sail for an overnight navigation to Nusa Laut.
Day 13 – 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 favourite 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 spotted 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 Ambon for a final night and an amazing beach BBQ on a deserted Island.
We are look forward to having you on board!
The Calico Jack Team
Day 14 – Disembarkation in Ambon
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.
Maumere flights landing at Wai Oti Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Wai Oti, IATA: MOF, ICAO: WATC), also known as Maumere Airport, is 3 km out of town. Maumere is a small town both in geography and population.
Maumere is linked by air with regular flights to Kupang/Timor's El Tari Airport (KOE). and Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). At least 4 companies fly from here, Sriwijaja Air (flies as Nam Air), Lion Air, Wings Air, Garuda Indonesia and Merpati. (Please note that when flying with Wings Air you are allowed only 10kg in Checkin luggage). All flights eventually end up in Bali, either via Kupang, Sumba or Labuanbajo.
Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport, is located in southern Bali, 13 km south of Denpasar. It is Indonesia's third-busiest international airport. Airport Council International has awarded Ngurah Rai International Airport as the world’s third best airport (with 15-25 million passengers each year) in 2016 based on their services.
Example of the route can be Garuda Indonesia GA490:
Departure from DENPASAR at 09:25
Arrival to MAUMERE at 11:25
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.