12 Days With Whale Sharks and Stunning Reefs in a Remote Area of Indonesia From a Luxurious Liveaboard Yacht
July 26 – August 6, 2024
Join a small group of just 16 snorkelers aboard the beautiful 158 foot Coralia liveaboard yacht, exploring the Cenderawasih Bay National Park, the largest marine park in Indonesia. Cenderawasih Bay is located in the famed Coral Triangle, as well as the Bird’s Head Seascape, an area of highly diverse and abundant marine life which surrounds West Papua. It is such a remote area that about the only way to visit is on a liveaboard.
Cenderawasih Bay is famous for its large population of whale sharks, which will be a big focus of this trip. And the area is so remote that the coral reefs are pristine, offering amazing shallow coral snorkeling, and unique sea life sightings.
This trip is being run by our partner and friend Ben and his team. Based in the U.K., they are experts in the Coral Triangle, run amazing excursions, and have a great appreciation for the underwater world.
Besides whale sharks, you can expect to see many other of their smaller cousins, like Black-tip and White-tip Reef Sharks, as well as the famous walking sharks and wobbegong sharks.
And the corals are particularly healthy and diverse in this area, because there has not been a lot of human impact. The reefs have clouds of colorful reef fish schools to enjoy.
Where Is Cenderawasih Bay?
Cenderawasih Bay is in Indonesia. The giant bay is part of West Papua, and is just east of what they call the Bird’s Head. West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea.
Cenderawasih Bay National Park is the largest marine national park in Indonesia, covering 5,611 square miles (14535 sq km).
You should book your international flight to arrive at Jakarta International Airport (CGK). You will then check into the Jakarta Airport Hotel and relax after your long flight. Your snorkel group will then meet for either a late-night or early-morning flight together to Manokwari in West Papua.
You will then be transferred to the Coralia liveaboard for your next 10 nights in Cenderawasih Bay. Your cruise ends where it began in Manokwari.
Your group will then fly together back to Jakarta, which is the end of the tour. This is when you catch your flight home, or extended your trip in Indonesia, which Ben’s team can also help you with.
What Will the Snorkeling in Cenderawasih Bay Be Like?
Certainly one of the main attractions is going to be seeing and snorkeling with whale sharks, which are the largest shark and also the largest fish in the world. These giant but gentle creatures can reach a length of 65 feet long (20 meters), but average 48 feet (14.5 m). They are slowing moving, and are filter feeders. They draw in large quantities of water, and filter out all the small life in the water, like small fish and plankton.
On the days that your group is looking for whale sharks, your guides will seek out local fisherman, near large fishing platforms called batgans. The whale sharks like to hang out in the area. They come right up to the nets full of tiny baitfish and suck in some tasty food.
Your group can snorkel with the whale sharks for as long as you want, and may see several in each location at the same time.
In addition to snorkeling with whale sharks, the reefs in Cenderawasih Bay offering amazing snorkeling opportunities, both in terms of the abundance and variety of marine life, and the overall health of the reefs. Human impact is minimal because it is such a remote part of the world, so the reefs are full of life. And fortunately coral bleaching has not impacted this part of the world yet in any significant way.
You can expect lush reefs, filled with healthy and colorful corals, brimming with beautiful reef fish. Colorful nudibranchs of many types can be found. Turtles, and schools of larger fish species are common.
Cenderawasih snorkeling offers many opportunities to see smaller reef sharks, octopus, squid, and rays. You can also spot the famous walking sharks, wobbegong sharks, and crocodile fish.
Your liveaboard will get you close to many of the snorkeling spots. You will be snorkeling 3-4 times a day, although you certainly don’t need to get in the water that much, if you prefer to sit one out in comfort on the yacht.
There will also be some night snorkeling opportunities.
When the big boat cannot get you close enough, or when there are stronger currents, there are also smaller boats that will drop you in the water and pick you up. They have ladders to make it easy. Those boats will also be around on every snorkel, and if you get tired at any point they can pick you up for a break, or to return to the larger ship.
When there are currents, you will also swim with the currents, not against them. And the small boat will pick you up at the end of your drift snorkel.
There may also be a land excursions to visit a nice viewpoint or other points of interest.
What Is the Coralia Yacht Like?
Coralia is a beautiful wooden boat built in the traditional way. It is a wonderful home from which you can safely explore the reefs of Cenderawasih Bay. As you cruise between the islands you will view stunning seascapes and enjoy the company of your snorkeling group.
At 158 feet long, 30 feet wide, and displacing 361 tons, she is a good sized ship with loads of space for enjoying your leisure time and dining, both in and out of the sun. And with as many crew on board as guests you will be very well taken care of.
There is a sundeck on top, and there is an airy upper deck for dining and leisure, with plenty of loungers for taking in a sunrise or sunset with a drink in hand.
There are also air-conditioned lounge and restaurant areas on the main deck to cool down. When available there is free WiFi, but it is spotty, and only for a quick email check.
The Coralia has eight double cabins. Each cabin is air-conditioned, non-smoking, and has a spacious private bathroom with warm freshwater showers, towels, and hairdryer.
Environmentally friendly, natural soap and shower amenities are provided free of charge.
In the cabin itself guests will find cozy beds, a sofa, working desk, and closet. A safety box, regular, and USB charging stations provide further comfort.
There are four luxurious master cabins on the main and upper deck that additionally feature a private balcony, sun chair and outside sofa, where you can indulge in the tropical scenery and never miss a sunrise or sunset.
The deluxe lower cabins have either one double or two twin beds and porthole windows.
The yacht has a cozy air-conditioned restaurant where you will be served traditional Indonesian cuisine as well as international comfort foods and snacks between snorkels. They can accommodate most special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and so on. But, it is a remote destination and specific food items may not be available.
And last but certainly not least, there is a spa on the top deck for massages should you like to relax even more.
In addition to the yacht there are two smaller fiberglass panga style boats that may sometimes be used to bring your snorkeling group to different sites, and they will always be watching your group and ready to assist. These smaller boats have ladders to help you get back on board. If you get tired during a snorkel one of those boats can quickly take you back to the mothership.
Trip Details and How to Sign Up
This is a small group charter and we expect it to fill quickly. Your spot is reserved with your deposit. Contact Ben below for deposit instructions.
July 26 – August 6, 2024 – Available.
USD $7435 per person – Master Cabin
USD $7035 per person – Deluxe Lower Cabin
The initial deposit for this trip is $400 US per person. At 12 months before departure there is a $600 US per person interim deposit, and at six months there is another $1000 US per person interim deposit. The final balance will be due three months before departure. A few payment options are available including debit and credit cards.
Individual travelers – Ben will happily find someone of the same sex for you to share a room with. If he cannot find you someone, no single supplement surcharge will apply.
- 1 night accommodation at Jakarta Airport Hotel
- Round trip domestic flights, transfers, and connections (Jakarta – Manokwari – Jakarta) with 20kg/44 lbs checked baggage
- 10 nights accommodation on the Coralia Liveaboard including all meals, snacks, water, sodas, tea, and coffee
- 3 – 4 guided snorkel sessions per day with the arrival date and day before departure as an exception
- A guide from Ben’s team
- International flights
- Snorkeling equipment
- Alcoholic beverages
- Port fees, fuel surcharge, and marine park fees – $300 US per person
- Travel and health insurance
- Spa services
Ben and his U.K. based team are the organizers and leaders of this trip (more about them below). Galen & Nicole from TropicalSnorkeling.com are promoting this trip, but all signups, trip organization and payments are made to and managed by Ben’s team. TropicalSnorkeling.com does receive a referral fee in exchange for promoting the trip, at no extra cost to attendees.
How to Sign Up or Learn More?
Use the contact form below to contact Ben and his team to request more information about them and express your interest in signing up. They will get back to you shortly with full details.
More About Ben and Our Partnership
Ben (pictured with Nicole) is our friend and snorkeling trips partner. He and his team are based in the U.K. and have over 20 years of experience guiding in Asia and beyond. He has been running his own business since 2010 and is primarily offering guided snorkeling trips, but he started with diving. He began offering snorkeling specific trips because he was aware that snorkelers often get the short end of the stick when thrown in with divers. He and his team love the freedom and low stress of snorkeling, and are very aware of the different needs of snorkelers versus divers, in terms of the reef depth, and calm surface conditions needed.
From our experience going on one of his snorkeling trips we found it very well organized, the guides were fantastic and very helpful, and the underwater experiences were exceptional. Snorkeling groups really get the benefit of all of Ben and his guides’ years of experience in the water, and with different resorts and liveaboards.
All of his trips are small groups of 12-18 guests, or with a similar ratio of snorkelers to guides. And for where they visit, and how packed they are with experiences, they are affordable.
His company is licensed and insured. Barring extreme circumstances they do not cancel trips, and all funds are held in a trust until the trip is completed giving you 100% financial security if they or any of their suppliers go out of business before the trip happens.