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Raja Ampat (Indonesia) - Cetaceans & snorkeling



Wildlife Cruise: whales & dolphins, birds, other marine life, snorkelling & photography.


Sorong – Raja Ampat - Sorong

Tropical, warm to hot.


14* passenger comfortable liveaboard vessel, all cabins with private facilities and air-conditioning.


Join Chas for a 9 night / 10 day cruise around the islands of Raja Ampat in the far east of Indonesia.

On board our exclusively chartered liveaboard vessel, we will cruise west from Sorong (in West Papua) around the islands of the Raja Ampat archipelago. The coral reefs here are the richest in the world, and we will have time for snorkeling every day. We will also go ashore in search of some fabulous local birdlife, including the Red Bird-of-Paradise. Out at sea we will be looking for the wealth of dolphins and whales that call this area home, including Bryde’s and Omura’s Whales, as well as a wonderful diversity of smaller species. All-in-all this promises to be a fabulous trip at the very epicentre of marine biodiversity. 

Our cruise starts from the town of Sorong, on the western tip of the great island of Papua. Just offshore lies the archipelago of Raja Ampat (‘Four Kings’, named for the four largest islands in the group). Most of the islands remain cloaked in forest, and are home to a wealth of birdlife, including the Red Bird-of-Paradise. While nestling in the surrounding seas are the richest coral reefs in the world, where we can expect to enjoy plenty of wonderful snorkelling. 

On this trip we travel through the Raja Ampat archipelago on board our exclusively chartered 28 m liveaboard safari vessel, M.V. Mermaid. She is very comfortable and ideal for our needs. Mermaid has a local crew of 15, including an experienced captain and two full-time cooks. There are 7 guest cabins, including: one master suite, with panoramic windows looking forward over the bows; four standard twin/double cabins on the main deck, with windows; and two slightly smaller lower deck cabins without windows, with lower double bed and upper single bunk. All are ensuite and air-conditioned. 

Our itinerary while on board will be very flexible, to make the most of cetacean sightings. The outline given below should therefore be considered to be a guideline only, not a rigidly structured programme. We will wander through the archipelago, enjoying the scenery, and taking our time to watch dolphins, whales, flying fish and seabirds. We will travel by day and anchor early most evenings in a sheltered spot. Depending on our location there should be opportunities for a snorkel or island visit at these times, using the Mermaid’s two inflatable tenders. And after dark, far from city lights, the top deck offers stunning views of the night sky.


This trip will be led by Dr. Charles ‘Chas’ Anderson, a professional marine biologist who lives and works in the Maldives. He is an authority on both the cetaceans and fishes of the tropical Indian Ocean, and the pioneer of whale and dolphin watching in the region. Chas has made numerous visits to Indonesia over the past 25 years (including a spell working as a diving instructor on Flores), has dived widely throughout the archipelago, and leads regular whale- and dolphin-watching cruises between Bali and Komodo. He is the author of ‘An Underwater Guide to Indonesia’, and a major contributor to the best-selling divers’ guide ‘Underwater Indonesia’. 


In summary, this promises to be a superb wildlife cruise with great cetacean sightings, some extraordinary birds, magnificent coral reefs and tropical islands together with friendly local people. 


Day 1. Start of cruise from Sorong. Board MV Mermaid at Sorong port, mid-morning. Depart around lunchtime. Cruise towards Waigeo Island, looking out for dolphins en-route. After sunset tonight there will be an orientation talk, and on most other nights there will be a slide show. Note: You should arrive in Sorong at least one day early. 


Days 2-8. Cruising Raja Ampat. We will wend our way slowly through the Raja Ampat islands, looking out along the way for whales and dolphins, flying fish and seabirds. There will be opportunities for snorkelling on the coral reefs, including at least one site with Manta Rays. And we can also expect opportunities for island visits. 


Day 9. Back to Sorong. Another full day, with during which we can expect a morning snorkel or island visit, and plenty more time for whale and dolphin watching. We should arrive back at Sorong port in the afternoon. 


Day 10.  Disembark. After breakfast we will sadly have to disembark and transfer to accommodation ashore or to the airport for flight home. 


Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Leader/naturalist: Dr Charles ‘Chas’ Anderson

Dates: 26th February – 6th March 2020


£3799 / £3819  Sharing a lower deck cabin (no window or porthole)

£4275 / £4369  Sharing a standard cabin (window)

£4655 / £4745  Sharing the Master Suite (upper deck with windows)

£1895                Single cabin supplement.

Dates  2021: 12th – 21st April 2021 please call or complete the online booking request form (right) to register your interest.

Facilities: All cabins are air-conditioned with private facilities. 

Deposit: £750

Group size:14

Price includes: Transfers to/from Sorong airport, cruise including all meals, tea and coffee on board, use of snorkelling gear, naturalist guide, tourist tax and atoll permits. 

Price excludes: Flights UK - Sorong (available from £945 return), vessel fuel surcharges if levied, travel insurance, other drinks, gratuities and other items of a personal nature. A Raja Amphat National Park Fee is payable locally, currently Euros 200 per person.


More detailed information can be found on the tour report tab above.


    Tour Leader

    Dr ‘Chas’ Anderson has been working in the Maldives since 1983 as a professional marine biologist and is the pioneer of whale and dolphin watching in the islands.

    Learn More

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