Forgotten Islands and Banda Sea Liveaboard Diving
The Forgotten Islands and the Banda Sea can be dived on Coralia as part of a dedicated Forgotten Islands cruise. The Banda Sea will also be visited during our trips from Ambon to Raja Ampat in October and November or back again in April.
Cruises to the Forgotten Islands can start in Maumere, with this embarkation point the trip will also include Alor. You can read more about cruises through Alor here . The other option is to start in Saumlaki, on the island of Tanimbar, and finish in Ambon.
Best Places to Dive in the Banda Sea and Forgotten Islands
The Forgotten Islands are an arc of islands that are part of a very remote archipelago in the east of the Banda Sea. These islands are accessible only by liveaboard and offer a truly exciting adventure! The Banda Sea is famous for its deep walls, healthy reefs, giant sponges all in crystal clear blue water. This area is also now known for the chance to see schooling Hammerhead Sharks!
Nyata, Nus Leur, Terbangs and Damar
At Nyata the reefs are very healthy, especially the hard-coral formations in the shallows. Incredible fish action is attracted to the dive site here. Nus Leur is a small atoll that has a steep sloping reef with a good chance to see Napoleon Wrasse. The shallow coral garden is a very beautiful spot to do your safety stop. At North and South Terbang there are dramatic walls with large overhangs dripping with soft corals. Damar is close by and has a great hard coral garden perfect for an afternoon and night dive.
Dusborgh and Nila
Close to the island of Nila are the sea mounts of Dusborgh and Nil Desparandum. They are surrounded by very deep water so there is a chance to see large pelagics. Here we will look out for the now famous Banda Sea schooling hammerhead sharks. Absolutely massive barrel sponges and expanses of hard corals make these reefs very impressive.
Dawera is the last stop on a cruise that finishes in Saumlaki. You can dive just about anywhere around this island to find a fantastic dive site! At one point there are so many soft corals we are reminded of the glorious reefs of Raja Ampat. A huge school of Barracuda hang out on one point of the island.
There is a hidden pinnacle out from the island where the reef really is untouched. The village of Dawera does not fish here because there are so many fish around their island, they have plenty to eat! At the pinnacle the reef is a profusion of colour and each and every rock is covered in every type of coral! Big schools of jacks and batfish, schooling pyramid fish and triggerfish and hundreds of fusiliers all try to avoid the hunting reef sharks and jacks.
Forgotten Island trips are not just about the ‘big stuff’. If you want to look for macro critters we can find things like Leaf Fish, Moray Eels, lots of different Nudibranchs, Ribbon Eels, Mantis Shrimps, as well the very special Dragon Shrimps and Leopard Shrimps.
On trips from Saumlaki to Ambon we will visit Manuk. This is the most easterly volcano in Indonesia and is home to lots of sea snakes. They are very curious and divers will be approached by many snakes during the dives. But don’t worry they won’t bite, they just take a look and keep on swimming! The dramatic rocky dive sites here can be very fishy and there is a chance to spot hammerhead sharks. Above the water frigate birds and brown boobies sour over the volcano.
These cruises will also include a few days in the Banda Islands. Also known as the Spice Islands, the land excursion here is fascinating. Visit the museum, an old Dutch fort and a nutmeg plantation to learn about the incredible history of these remote islands. Read more about the Spice Islands on our blog.
The diving here includes the typical deep walls of the Banda Sea, as well as sea mounts and drift dive along fish packed reefs. At Batu Kapal the whole pinnacle is covered in schooling Pyramid Butterfly Fish and Red-tooth Triggerfish which mix in with hundreds of fusiliers, creating a myriad of colour. Hammerhead sharks have to been known to visit some of the reefs here, as well as turtles, bumphead parrotfish, eagle rays and napoleon wrasse.
site of Amet Reef. Eagle rays, a huge school of jacks, hammerhead sharks and even a Dugong have all been seen here. The reef is very healthy and it is common to see bumphead parrotfish feeding in the shallows.
Another stop that you will experience on any cruise from Raja Ampat to Ambon or vice versa, is Koon. The dive site here is called Too Many Fish which is all the explanation you need! Large groupers hang out on the deep wall and there are large schools of jacks and snappers. Reef sharks and even dolphins have been seen here.
Ambon is a world class muck diving destination. Inside the bay there are numerous dive sites full of critters galore! The holy grail of fish Rhinopias can be seen here along with Frogfish, Ghost Pipefish, Nudibranchs, Leaf Fish, Zebra crabs, cuttlefish, all sorts of Pipefish, Mandarin Fish, Ribbon Eels, all sort of Eels and cute juveniles like the Barramundi Cod, Batfish and Harlequin Sweetlips.
Our eagle-eyed dive guides will be looking out for different types of shrimps such as Bumblebee Shrimp, Harlequin Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp and Coleman shrimps. In the octopus family, we might see the very special Wunderpus or Mimic and at night the Coconut, Starry Night, White-V and Long Arm Octopus come out to hunt. An excellent way to start or finish a trip!
Banda Sea Liveaboard Diving Highlights
- Deep walls and untouched reefs
- Beautiful blue water with great visibility
- See enormous barrel sponges
- Hammerhead sharks!
- Relax on deck while looking for dolphins and whales
- Common sightings – schooling fish, mantis shrimps, napoleon wrasse, nudibranchs, leaf fish, turtles, reef octopus
- Special sightings – schooling hammerhead sharks, sea snakes, Rhinopias, frogfish, wunderpus or mimic octopus, plus other amazing creatures
Best Time to Go
The Forgotten Islands and Banda Sea can only be dived at certain times of the year due to weather conditions. Coralia has cruises in the Banda Sea in April when we cross down from Raja Ampat. We go to the Forgotten Islands in October and November when we cross back up to Raja Ampat. This is when the sea is at its calmest.
How to Get There
Coralia’s Banda Sea cruises involve a number of different ports. Some trips depart or arrive in Sorong. The airport code for Sorong is SOQ. Other trips depart or arrive in Ambon (AMQ). Trips also depart from Maumere on the island of Flores, the airport code is MOF. Finally, to get to Saumlaki (SXK) on the island of Tanibar, you have to fly via Ambon. The international airports with the best connections to these destinations are Bali (DPS) and Jakarta (CGK).
Garuda runs flights on all routes. At the time of writing, Garuda offers an extra 23kg per person for dive gear. Be ready to show your diving certification and that your extra baggage is made up of dive equipment.
Please remember that if you fly in the morning, at the end of the cruise, then you might be restricted on the number of dives you partake in the day before. Usually, on the last full day on board, we will do two dives in the morning. Finishing by around 1pm.
You can take an international flight into Bali or Jakarta to connect with your domestic flight. We recommend arriving in Bali or Jakarta at least one day before your domestic flight. We also recommend you book your return international flight for one day after the end of the cruise.
Useful Banda Sea Liveaboard Cruise Information
- All levels of divers and snorkelers can join a Banda Sea and Forgotten Islands cruise.
- Transfers to and from the airport are included. From Maumere airport to the harbour is around a 20 minute drive. From Ambon airport to the harbour it is around a 10 minute drive. Saumlaki airport is 30 minutes from the harbour. You will then be transferred by a short speedboat ride to Coralia.
- Water temperature – it is warm all year round, about 27°C and 30° But thermoclines have been known to reduce the temperature to below 27°C.
- The water can get cold in Alor so bring a hood or hooded vest plus a 3mm or 5mm long wetsuit.
- Visibility in the Banda Sea is usually very good, ranging from 25-30 metres. Inside Ambon Bay the visibility may be less but it’s ok because here we’re looking for critters!
- The Banda Sea and the ports we visit are part of Indonesia. The currency is Indonesian Rupiah or IDR.
- The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. Although there are over 300 different native languages spoken in Indonesia.
- There are some great opportunities to buy souvenirs in the Banda Islands, including fresh nutmeg, gloves and cinnamon. In Alor you can buy colourful hand weaved traditional ikat, so bring some IDR.
- Other on board options include kayaking, paddle board, beach visits, whale and dolphin watching.
Visit the Banda Sea and Forgotten Islands with Coralia Liveaboard Indonesia !
Please have a look at Coralia’s cruise schedule to join us on an unforgettable diving adventure.
Also, please feel free to CONTACT US in case you have any questions. We look forward to assisting you.