Indonesia Cool Combo: Raja Ampat & Sulawesi
On this two-week trip you will experience some of the best diving on offer in Indonesia. Starting on the beautiful reefs of Raja Ampat where you will meet turtles, mantas and lots of tropical reef fish, before heading to the Lembeh Strait in Northern Sulawesi, to experience some of the world's best muck diving.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Dive on pristine coral reefs populated by schools of fish, sharks, turtles and manta rays in Raja Ampat
- Discover sea creatures so strange you wouldn't have thought they existed in the Lembeh Strait
- Visit villages, waterfalls and look out for endemic birds of paradise in Raja Ampat and the world's smallest mammal in Sulawesi
Why Book with Original Diving?
When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: International Flight
Prepare to be whisked away the moment you step into the airport as one of our representatives on the ground will fast track you through check-in and security so that you have plenty of time to relax in the lounge before your flight. Your overnight flight to Singapore will take around 13 hours, arriving the following morning.
Day 2: Stop-off in Jakarta
After arriving into Singapore you will have a short stopover before your onward flight to Jakarta, which will take around two hours, arriving in the afternoon.
You have a longer layover before your flight to Sorong, which leaves just after midnight, so we can arrange a day room at a hotel or access to an airport lounge for you during this time.
Day 3: Arrival into Raja Ampat
Your flight lands into Sorong in the early hours of the morning.
You will be met in arrivals by your driver and transferred to the port for a two hour speedboat transfer to your resort. Keep your eyes glued to the horizon as your whiz past emerald islands; if you're lucky you may even get dolphins playing in the boat's wake.
Hoorah! You've arrived into paradise! Get settled in to your overwater bungalow, located on the doorstop of the house reef. From the deck keep an eye out for the resident dugong bobbing below.
Spend the rest of the day becoming well acquainted with your surroundings, be it snorkelling on the house reef or relaxing on the deck of your bungalow. Be sure to visit the dive centre to organise your diving for the coming days.
Day 4: Dampier Strait Diving
Your resort is perfectly positioned to reach some of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat in the central Dampier Strait.
Start at Friwin Island, which is a relaxed, shallow site with plenty to see. The island is surrounded by coral, as well as featuring a small cave which often has whitetip sharks resting on ledges along the wall.
Next head to Cape Kri, known as the 'record breaker', a real highlight in the area. This site is known for having the highest number of different species seen on one dive anywhere in the world. Search the corals for critters such as shrimps and pygmy seahorses, while looking out for turtles, rays and sharks passing by.
After a delicious fresh lunch back at the resort, head to Manta Sandy, a manta cleaning station which attracts dozens of mantas at a time. Watch from a distance as they effortlessly glide around each other in dazzling displays akin to Cirque du Soleil.
Day 5: Diving at Blue Magic
Do you believe in magic? If not, you soon will as this morning you'll discover Blue Magic.
Blue Magic is a deep pinnacle in the middle of a channel and one of the most famous sites in the area. The currents can be quite strong so try to shelter behind rocks and look out for huge oceanic mantas, which use this site as a cleaning station.
For your second dive stop by Sardines Reef which, as the name suggests, is famous for the huge schools of sardines circling around the reef. These sardines attract predators such as barracuda, Spanish mackerel, trevallies, jacks and grey reef sharks.
After a surface interval refuelling on lunch, head back beneath the waves to explore Chicken Reef. This is a shallow reef covered in corals with a huge school of fusiliers swimming over the top. Within the corals look out for pipefish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, shrimps and more.
Day 6: The Passage
Put your fins back on today to dive The Passage, which is situated in the narrow gap between Waigeo and Gam islands.
You will swim among mangrove roots where the ocean meets the jungle and where lots of creatures take shelter. Look out for macro life such as nudibranchs, shrimp and flatworms, as well as juvenile fish hiding between the roots. Next, onto Urai which is an excellent macro site with lots of frogfish and pipefish among the vibrant corals.
This afternoon snorkel on the house reef or relax on the deck of your bungalow, before heading out for a night dive just after sunset. Keep a good look out for wobbegongs (walking sharks), which become active at night.
Day 7: Panemu
Today you'll venture slightly further afield to the islands of Penemu.
This area is home to several beautiful coral gardens pulsating with marine life, including Melissa's Garden and Penemu Wall. Between dives you can hike up a mushroom-shaped islet to get an amazing view over the surrounding islands and reefs.
On the way back to the resort, you will have a chance to stop at the inhabited island of Arborek, where you can visit the local village as well as dive or snorkel under the jetty where thousands of fish take refuge.
Day 8: Island Activities
Today you can keep your feet dry as you explore some of the islands that make up Raja Ampat.
Visit local villages, walk to waterfalls and go on the look out for birds of paradise, which are endemic to this region. If the pull of the ocean is too much, borrow a kayak or paddle board and hit the waves or simply snorkel on the house reef.
In the evening watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand before feasting on dinner under the stars. Don't have a late night though as you have an early start tomorrow.
Day 9: Onwards to Lembeh
Early this morning you will be transferred by speedboat and car back to Sorong. From Sorong you will then fly to Manado, a short one-and-a-half hour flight away
You will be met in arrivals by your driver and transferred to the jetty, taking around 90 minutes, from where you will take a 10-minute speedboat ride to the resort.
Settle into your bungalow looking over the Lembeh Strait before indulging in a delicious lunch at the restaurant. In the afternoon, there's a wonderful spa nestled into the hillside, which is well worth a visit to knead out any residual knots.
Day 10: The Wonderful World of Muck Diving
Today, start off your diving adventure in the Lembeh Strait, which is one of the premier muck diving destinations in the world.
Start at Nudi Falls, where the bottom is a combination of sand and rubble around which lots of critters hide, including colourful ribbon eels and mantis shrimps. Swim a little further and you'll reach a coral reef, which is covered in animals including cowries, rhinopias, pygmy seahorses and lots of nudibranchs after which the site is named. Keep your eyes peeled for anemones as they are often home to Banggai Cardinalfish, which is a particularly rare species endemic to this area.
For your second dive head to Hairball, which is home to lots of hairy frogfish as well as long arm octopus, leafy filefish, flamboyant cuttlefish and more. Spend the afternoon relaxing back on land before heading out on a night dive to Pante Abo. The site has several coral patches in a shallow area, which are home to warty frogfish, wonderpus, robust pipefish and lots of nudibranchs.
Day 11: Air Bajo and Pulau Abadi
This morning visit Air Bajo, which can actually be separated into three different sites, and so is a joy to dive more than once.
Each area starts with a shallow sandy flat area, which then slopes down to 20 metres. Here you can expect to see coconut octopus, painted frogfish, ornate pipefish, seahorses and flamboyant cuttlefish.
For the second dive head to Pulau Abadi, which sits pretty in the middle of the strait. Here you can expect to see sponges, algae and seafans where blue-ringed octopus, wonderpus, pygmy seahorses and painted frogfish live.
This evening head out for a night dive at Air Prang, a sandy slope where you might come across giant frogfish, rhinopias, paddle-flap, wonderpus and broadclub cuttlefish. Other animals to look out for, particularly at night, include the bobbit worm and tiny bobtail squid.
Day 12: Bianca and Rojos
This morning head to Bianca, named after a phinisi style ship that is moored here.
On the sloped, sandy bottom there are several coral outcrops covered in sponges. This is a great site for spotting frogfish (you're likely to see several in one dive), nudibranchs, mantis shrimps and ribbon eels. Back in the shallows there is a patch of staghorn corals alongside which several anemones lie, where you can spot cardinalfish and mandarinfish. This is one of only a few places where you can actually see mandarinfish during the day rather than at dusk, but be patient as they are very shy.
For your second dive head to Rojos, which has a mix of coral and sandy bottom. This site is particularly good if you like cephlapods as you are likely to see mimic octopus, long arm octopus and flamboyant cuttlefish, as well as frogfish and dragonets.
Day 13: Teluk Kembahu
For your final day of diving start off at Teluk Kembahu (also known as TK), which is an excellent muck site featuring a few patches of sponge and coral bommies attracting marine life. Look out for hairy and painted frogfish, mimic octopus and ribbon eels.
For your final dive stop at Tanjung Tebal, which is a stunning site characterised by huge boulders, creating canyons and shelves that stretch out into the strait. Look out for pygmy seahorse, wonderpus and rare crabs.
Day 14: Tangkoko National Park
Today you will have the opportunity to explore above the waves.
Take a guided tour to Tangkoko National Park, which is one of the oldest nature reserves in Indonesia. Led by a local expert, learn about the wonderful wildlife you spot in the area, including black macaques, hornbills and other rare species of endemic birds, flying draco-lizards and the world's smallest mammal, the tarsier, which is only found in a couple of places in the world.
Back at the resort, savour your final sunset and dinner before your trip home tomorrow.
Day 15: Home Time
Sadly it's time to head home. You will be transferred back to Manado airport to catch your flight to Singapore. After a short layover, you will then board your onward flight back to the UK, which will arrive the following morning.
Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.