Maluku, undeveloped, distant from populated areas and off the beaten track, these “Forgotten Islands” have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world. Calico Jack has a number of routes that, include some of these islands, in combination with Raja Ampat.
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.
Liveaboard Cruises in The Maluku
Maluku, in the Forgotten Islands 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, Malucca 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 unspoilt 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. Lying South East off the much larger Seram Island is the historical centre - 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/October 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 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 throughs 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 !
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 cruises in the areas of Saumlaki, Banda and Ambon. 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 Saumlaki (1 Dive)
We will pick you up at Saumlaki 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 and cruising through the night to Pulau Dawera. 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 Dawera & Pulau Dai (3-4 Dives)
Early morning, we arrive at the islands of Pulau Dawera and Pulau Dai. These small islands are in the Northern part of the Babar group of islands and will be our rst stop after Saumlaki. The villagers on these islands still practice traditional hunting methods, which include the use of bow and arrows. In the water, steep slopes provide the perfect hunting grounds for schooling barracuda and trevally. Large sea fans cover the reef and are surrounded by a very healthy and diverse array of reef sh.
DAY 3 | Pulau Nils & Pulau Dusborgh (3 Dives)
After an early morning’s breakfast, we gear up for our rst opportunity to come face-to-face with schooling hammerhead sharks. Pulau Dusborgh has recently been uncovered to be a hot spot for schooling hammerheads at this 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 4 | Nils Desperandum & Pulau Serua (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, 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. After lunch, we will navigate to Pulau Serua, a volcanic island which is becoming increasingly popular amongst liveaboard charters due to hammerhead sightings. We will stay overnight in Serua.
DAY 5 | Pulau Serua (2 Dives)
After a light breakfast, you will have the opportunity to dive at one of the hammerhead sites at Serua. We will attempt to have 2 dives in this area, dependent upon local weather conditions, before stepping o onto Pulau Serua to explore the incredible volcanic scenery. You will trek to an abandoned village which the local inhabitants deserted due to searing temperatures and the inability to sleep at night. The village is now situated closer to the water’s edge as it is much cooler. The locals are very hospitable and the Chief of the village is more than happy to show you around and introduce you to the local families and elders.
DAY 6 | Manuk (3 Dives)
The island of Manuk forms the Eastern-most volcanic island o Indonesia, and possesses two very exceptional highlights, both above and below the water. Myriads of beautiful seabirds, including frigates and boobies, glide overhead, ocking 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 7 | 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 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 sh congregate. This particular spot is one of the best in the world to spot mandarin sh.
DAY 8 | 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 sh 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 parrot sh.
DAY 9 | 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 sh 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 parrot sh may be spotted here, as well as passing eagle rays. The third dive for the day will be an exploratory dive o 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 10 | 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 pipe fish 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.
DAY 11 | Ambon (2 Dives)
On the nal day of diving, we have 2 great dives planned. Tanjung Hukurila Cave is a fascinating twisted chimney and one of the most famed sites in the region. These natural formations can be seen from the surface and lead to a swim-through covered in sponges and soft corals. This site is quite an unusual dive, ordering you the thrill of gliding your way through winding passages, caverns and canyons. The barrel sponges, large sea fans and plenty of table corals indicate little to no disturbance from human activities, resulting in a site teeming with marine life. North of the cave is Lehari; a sloping reef that drops down to 40 metres. On this drift dive, immaculate corals are swarmed by schools of Jacks, snappers, cardinal and angel fish. Bumphead parrot fish can also be spotted here as well as large schools of barracuda. In the afternoon, we set sail for a pristine island on the other side of Ambon where you will be indulged by one of Calico Jack’s famous beach BBQ’s. The crew will entertain and socialise with you, have a playful a game of soccer or jam with their guitars and bongos. Our chef will serve up a delicious BBQ as you enjoy a cold drink reclined on the plush beanbags and be whisked away by a candle-lit shoreline and music lling the night sky.
We are look forward to having you on board!
The Calico Jack Team
DAY 12 | 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.
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 etd 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.