Banda Sea

September 19 – October 2, 2020

Indonesia liveaboard photo of schooling Hammerhead Sharks

Named for the distinctive structure of its head, the Hammerhead Shark’s wide-set eyes allow it to more easily find stingrays, its favorite prey.

Banda Sea diving close up of Giant Moray Eel

The Giant Moray Eel is the only animal in the world to use a second set of jaws while hunting, to capture and restrain their prey. © Giovanna Fasanelli

Banda Sea dive trip image of Blue-green Chromis swimming over reef

With an iridescent apple-green and light blue body, the Blue Green Chromis is one of the colorful reef fish you’ll encounter. © Giovanna Fasanelli

Banda Sea dive trip photo of Longnose Hawkfish

With a white body and red stripes, the Longnose Hawkfish is often found perched on and camouflaged by a Red Gorgonian Sea Fan. © Giovanna Fasanelli

Diving Indonesia photo of liveaboard vessel Blue Manta

Spend 10 nights aboard the 16-guest Blue Manta as you discover some of the world’s most remote dive and snorkel sites.

Banda Sea diving image of school of Yellowstripe Scad

The Yellowstripe Scad is a schooling species of predatory fish that feeds on crustaceans and a variety of planktonic prey. © Giovanna Fasanelli

Banda Sea Diving

There was a time when the Molucca Islands, in Indonesia’s Banda Sea, were the center of the colonial universe, causing diplomatic havoc over their rare and coveted spices. But then it seems this corner of the world was “forgotten,” left to the indigenous islanders and magnificent flora and fauna, both above and below water. Lucky for you, because to dive in the Moluccas is to experience a pristine, and ecologically vibrant, paradise. Join Apex on this 14-day Banda Sea diving adventure. You’ll muck dive off Ambon Island, then move to a liveaboard vessel and venture to the most remote reaches of the archipelago. See massive coral gardens as you dive and snorkel with swarms of brightly-colored fish. Swim with hulking pelagic predators like Dogtooth Tuna, and visit “Hammerhead hot spots,” frequented by schools up to 200 strong. Spot dolphins, whales and sea turtles as you explore off smoldering volcanic islands of staggering beauty on this spectacular Banda Sea dive trip.

Graphic showing Banda Sea on the globe
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    • Travel by Air
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    • Travel by Bullet Train
    • Travel by Rail
    • Travel by Dog Sled
    • Saturday, September 19: Arrive Ambon, Maluku Province, Indonesia

      This afternoon, arrive in the capital of Maluku Province, which encompasses the southern Molucca islands, and transfer to your resort on secluded Baguala Bay, away from the bustle of Ambon. Get to know your fellow travelers and expedition team at a welcome dinner and briefing this evening. Dinner and overnight at Maluku Resort and Spa.

    • Sunday & Monday, September 20 & 21: Ambon

      For the next two days, immerse yourself in one of the premier muck diving locations in the world. Muck diving, a type of Macro diving, has advantages over clear water diving because mucky areas are rich in both nutrients and hiding spots, providing the perfect habitat for some of the rarest and most beautiful underwater creatures like the Ambon Scorpionfish, Rhinopias, Mimic and Wonderpus Octopus, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Harlequin and Coleman Shrimp, and the endemic Psychedelic Frogfish. What’s more, the black sand in these diving spots make great photographic backgrounds. Maluku Resort’s diving outfit offers three dives a day in Ambon Bay. While there are no snorkel options for this leg of the trip, non-divers can take advantage of the beachfront resort grounds, sightseeing in Ambon City, or visits to Waai Waterfall and Tulehu Hot Springs. Dinners and overnights at Maluku Resort and Spa.

    • Tuesday, September 22: Ambon / Embark Blue Manta

      Today, transfer to the Blue Manta, your liveaboard vessel for the next ten nights, and your ticket to some of the world’s most remote dive and snorkel sites. Settle in before heading east toward the Lease Islands. Dinner and overnight aboard the Blue Manta.

    • Wednesday, September 23: Lease Islands—Saparua & Nusa Laut

      The Lease Islands lie on the northern side of Maluku Province. Diving sites dotted around Saparua and Nusa Laut are varied, offering a multitude of coral gardens and steep slopes sheltering the most colorful of fish, including large swarms of Red Mullet, Sweetlips, triggerfish and damselfish. Take a lamp for exploring caves and overhangs encrusted with sponges, moss animals and sea squirts. Encounters with sea snakes are no rarity, nor are sightings of sea turtles, rays, barracudas, moray eels and reef sharks. Bottlenose Dolphins and Humpback and Minke Whales have been spotted in the area. If you’re lucky, you might just spot Dugongs feeding on the seaweed along the sandy parts of the seabed. Enjoy three dives or snorkels around these islands, then return to the ship for dinner and an overnight sail south to the Banda Islands.

    • Thursday & Friday, September 24 & 25: Banda Islands

      Located 110 miles southeast of Ambon and surrounded by the 16,000-foot-deep Banda Sea, the Banda Islands were once the center of the Spice Islands. Coveted for their bountiful nutmeg and mace, the Dutch traded Manhattan for one of these remote islands. Spend two full days snorkeling and diving around the Bandas, known for their excellent visibility and fantastic coral coverage. Because of the depth of the Banda Sea, these eleven islands are a meeting point for pelagic predators. Two of the most prolific creatures here are Dogtooth Tuna and Mobula Rays. At most sites, you’ll see enormous schools of fusiliers and thousands of Redtooth Triggerfish. At the other end of the size spectrum are prolific Mandarinfish and the native Ambon Scorpionfish. The Bandas are also home to the largest known Napoleon Wrasse population in Indonesia, and you can see them on almost every dive. Cetaceans are frequent visitors too, and divers often report sightings of Spinner Dolphins, Orcas, and Melonhead, Pilot, Blue, and Humpback Whales.Enjoy three dives or snorkels each day and a visit to one of the Spice Islands for a taste of local culture.

    • Saturday-Wednesday, September 26-30: Ring of Fire

      Known as Banda Sea’s “Forgotten Islands,” the Barat Daya Islands lie in the southern portion of the Moluccas. Part of the Inner Banda Arc, these islands are volcanic and form an active part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Spend a full five days diving and snorkeling around these extremely remote islands. See every color of soft coral, droves of sea snakes, schooling barracudas and Bumphead Parrotfish, fusiliers, Dogtooth Tuna, Giant Trevallies, reef sharks and incredible smoking seamounts around Manuk. The main focus will be Hammerheads, and, with luck, you’ll find huge schools of them swimming in formation. Conditions permitting, enjoy night dives to see flashlight fish, octopus, shrimp, crab and Crinoid Squat Lobster. See the smoking volcano on Serua, and possibly visit a small village on one of the Forgotten Islands.

    • Thursday, October 1: Hukurila Cave & Molana / Ambon

      Sail back toward Ambon, taking advantage of the opportunity to explore in the Lease Islands, off Molana and in southern Ambon, at the Hukurila Cave and Wall. This evening, toast to the memories made and the magnificent photographs captured at a farewell dinner on board.

    • Friday, October 2: Disembark Blue Manta, depart Ambon

      After breakfast, bid farewell to the Blue Manta and transfer to the airport for your international flights home.


    • September 19 – October 2, 2020
    • Leaders Jonathan Rossouw
    • $14,970 Per Person Rate
    • $19,870 Solo Rate
    • 14 days Trip Length
    • 16 guests
    • Ambon Start/End

    In addition to all tour services from arrival in Ambon through departure from Ambon as described in the itinerary, the trip price includes all gratuities; services of an Apex expedition leader, plus local guides throughout; and local beer and wine with lunch and dinner daily.

    Call us to reserve your spot on this exciting expedition!

    Have a question? Call us at 206.669.9272 / 800.861.6425. Prefer online?

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    slide of expedition leader Jonathan Rossouw

    Jonathan Rossouw

    Jonathan is excited to explore these vibrant coral reefs and encounter huge schools of Hammerhead Sharks.

    binocular icon show facts about Banda Sea

    Why Hammerheads have such an unusual-looking head

    Unlike most sharks, Hammerheads usually swim in large schools during the day, sometimes numbering in the hundreds. At night, they become solitary hunters. The unique shape of the Hammerhead Shark’s head allows it to see better than other sharks. Their wide-set eyes give them practically a 360-degree range of vision so they can more thoroughly scan the ocean for food. Hammerheads are also able to detect the electrical fields created by prey animals such as stingrays (their favorite meal) buried in the sand. Once located, Hammerheads will use their large heads to pin the stingray against the seafloor before it can sting.