DISCOVER CENTRAL MALUKU & BANDA SEA WITH ARENUI LIVEABOARD

Maluku, Banda,Spice Islands - all words that conjure up mysterious images and intriguing possibilities. Exploring and diving this remote part of Indonesia offers the chance to witness truly unspoilt beauty in a remote paradise.

Unlike other areas, with high populations and subsequent pressure from fishing, the Bandas' relatively small human population has been a blessing for divers - offering a vibrant, healthy reef system with fish life in incredible numbers along with huge gorgonians and sponges and some truly monumental hard corals. Expect plenty of pelagics, widespread muck diving and unexplored coral gardens, as well as a rich colonial heritage on land.

Cruises that take in the Banda Sea, often start or end at the famous port of Ambon, offering the chance to dive with the unusual critters of Ambon Bay. Ambon is roughly 830 nautical miles north-east of Bali, or roughly 250 nautical miles south-west, situated within the Maluku Islands archipelago (sometimes seen labeled as the Moluccas or the Spice Islands). Ambon Island lies off the south-west coast of the much larger Seram Island and consists of 2 territories - Maluku Tengah and the main city and port of Ambon, which is also the capital of Maluku province.

Diving in Ambon Bay is at the top of most people's to-dive list. The Laha sites are a hidden treasure of amazing critters, including the recently discovered species of frogfish (the psychedelic frogfish) but also Rhinopias, mimic octopus, zebra crabs and dozens of different nudibranch species. A very popular find is the eponymous Ambon Scorpionfish in differing hues of red, pink, green, yellow and orange, keep an eye out for many other members of the scorpionfish family too, including the spiny devilfish, stonefish, zebra lionfish, ragged-finned lionfish and leafy scorpionfish - all venomous but gorgeous! For those who want a change from nosing around after tiny creatures, a shipwreck covered in deep pink and purple soft corals offers a great alternative and is an irresistible lure for the profuse amount of fish in the area.

The Banda Islands are most widely known as one of the main stops along the old spice route. The remoteness of these islands, in the midst of the wide expanses of the Banda Sea has given it a fascinating, colourful history, including the fact that it was once a home to exiles of all sorts. The Banda Islands themselves, are also renowned for presenting picture-perfect views topside.

OCEAN LIFE FOCUS

A combination of beautiful and rainbow-colored soft corals, impressive hard corals, sponges, and sea fans serving as shelter for an immeasurable number of critters. Periodic encounters with pelagics including hammer heads. Mola-Mola (the world's biggest sunfish) have been spotted in the this area. Tuna, manta rays, turtles, surgeonfish, triggerfish, scorpion fish, ghost pipefish and lionfish are also found in this area.

If you are still not sure, just think that all of the Caribbean reefs together account for only 10 or 20 percent of the species which can be found in Maluku.

These rarely visited seas claim some of the world's richest marine environments, making them a macro-lovers paradise due to the number of rare and new species found here, but the region is still home to many pelagics and schooling fish.

A very popular dive area is found at Nusa Laut, which showcases the positive effects of a village taking care of its habitat, where the reef remains as unspoiled as it was hundreds of years ago and a favourite of many dive enthusiasts. We also visit Hukurila Cave, to experience a dive site located underneath two rock arches. These natural formations can be seen from the surface and lead to a swim-through covered in sponges and soft corals making for a great descent into your dive. This site is quite an unusual dive, offering the thrill of making your way through twisting passages and caverns and canyons swarming with life.

One of the major highlights for this trip is the island of Manuk, which offers delights above and below. Topside, it is possible to revel in the spectacle of thousands of seabirds, including comical yet beautiful frigatebirds and boobies. The sight is unforgettable. One of the few phenomena able to rival that display is the vision of a dozen sea snakes undulating and swimming underwater. Some divers have even been lucky enough to watch them hunting in a pack. It is thought that the warm geothermal vents present in these waters attract these cold-blooded creatures in large numbers.

CENTRAL MALUKU- USEFUL INFORMATION
INTERNATIONAL HUB Jakarta (CGK)
CURRENT gentle to moderate
DIVING DEPTH 5-30 mt
NUMBER OF DIVE SITES 43
SEA CONDITIONS can be rough in Banda Sea
SUITABLE FOR beginners-intermediate-advanced
VISIBILITY 10 - 40 mt
WATER TEMPERATURE 25 - 30℃