Indonesia Liveaboard Snorkeling Trip to Three Remote Gems

Misool, in Raja Ampat, Remote Halmahera Islands, and the Lembeh Strait

February 24 - March 8, 2023
March 8-20, 2023 (reverse itinerary)

You should join this snorkeling liveaboard adventure, to three very unique and stunning marine paradises of Indonesia. First you will cruise to Misool in Raja Ampat, which is our favorite snorkeling destination on earth. But most of your days will be spent exploring the very remote islands of Halmahera, which is considered one of the last frontiers of less explored reefs in Indonesia. Finally you will have a day snorkeling in Lembeh Strait, looking for rare and unique marine critters.

Indonesia coral reef and schools of fish

If you want to experience some of the healthiest and most abundant coral reefs on earth, this trip will fill you with delight. You will be visiting three areas that are within the famed Coral Triangle. Raja Ampat is considered the epicenter of marine biodiversity, with more species of coral and fish than anywhere else in the world. The islands of Halmahera are so remote that they are still very pristine with shallow hard and soft coral reefs, and a great variety of fish life. And Lembeh Strait is famous for unique creatures like frogfish, nudibranchs, and maybe even seahorses.

Your group of snorkelers will be aboard the Mermaid II liveaboard, a 108 foot steel yacht that has pioneered explorations into Halmahera.

Mermaid II liveaboard yacht cruising through the Halmahera Islands Indonesia
Frogfish in Indonesia

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.

Your group of 18 snorkelers will be guided through some of the best snorkeling spots on earth, on this 13 day trip.


Manta Rays in Misool Raja Ampat Indonesia

Where in Indonesia Will You Be Traveling?

World map highlighting the Coral Triangle

All three of the areas you will be visiting are in Indonesia, and are part of the region known as the Coral Triangle. 

Your tour begins in Jakarta. After your international flight arrives in Jakarta you can relax at the Jakarta Airport Hotel until your group and guide meets for a late-night flight to Sorong. When you arrive in Sorong crew from the Mermaid II yacht will greet you and take you by car to the harbor to board the yacht.

Halmahera Liveaboard Snorkeling Trip Map

You will first cruise to Misool, to spend three days snorkeling the reefs. Next you will cruise to the Halmahera Islands, and spend six days snorkeling. And the final day of snorkeling will be in the Lembeh Strait on the northern tip of Sulawesi.

You will then be transferred to Manado Airport, and your group will fly to Jakarta where the tour ends.

Note: The second trip date, March 8-20, 2023 has the reverse itinerary, beginning in Manado and Lembeh and ending in Raja Ampat and Sorong.

What Will You Experience Snorkeling in Misool, Halmahera, and Lembeh?

Anemonefish in its anemone in Indonesia

Your adventure will start with three days of snorkeling in Misool, Raja Ampat, our favorite snorkeling place on earth! Raja Ampat is considered the biodiversity center of the Coral Triangle region, and Misool in particular has more species than any other on earth. There are nearly 1,500 species of reef fish, 600 species of hard corals, seven giant clam species, seven species of sea turtles, and 57 species of mantis shrimp. And pelagic life is abundant in the area. This is due to the 500 square mile Marine Protected Area and No Take Zone. 

“There is greater biodiversity — that is to say, a larger number and greater diversity of fish, coral, and mollusks on these reefs than anywhere on earth. A single football field-sized patch of Misool’s reefs has nearly five times the number of coral species as the entire Caribbean Sea.” - Marine biologist Dr. Mark Erdmann

Because of its protections Misool has seen a huge increase in healthy reef species populations, from corals to sharks. We saw numerous small sharks on every snorkel when we were there, not mention many Manta Rays, and larger fish schools than we have seen anywhere else.

Young Black Tip Reef Sharks swimming over a sandy sea bottom in Indonesia
Snorkelers over the edge of an awesome reef drop-off in Misool Raja Ampat.

Misool is in a very remote southern part of the Raja Ampat archipelago. It has unique soft corals with vibrant colors and unique structures. You will find a vast range of snorkeling sites like coral covered walls, reef flats, pinnacles, and placid lagoons which all play host to a wealth of marine life. Fields of gorgonian fans can be seen in the shallows whilst colorful hard coral gardens rise to within breaching distance of the surface - this really is some of the finest reef snorkeling you are likely to see anywhere in the world. Not only that, but the reefs here are in superb condition.

Misool reefs offer a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes to enjoy.
Underwater in mangroves with soft corals

After Misool your cruise will focus the next six days on the very remote and untraveled area of the Halmahera Islands, which are located between North Sulawesi and Raja Ampat. The Mermaid II is one of the few companies that offers trips into this area, so you are very unlikely to be in the water with any other snorkelers. The area is so unexplored that most of the sites visited have yet to even be named. 

The reefs in Halmahera have astounding biodiversity, and are very healthy, offering beautiful shallow reefs abundant with hard and soft corals, and clouds of reef fish. You will also get to see many types of pelagic fish species, from hundreds of barracuda, to small Black Tip Reef Sharks and Manta Rays. A scientific survey by Dr. Gerry Allen noted over 800 species of fish, second only to Misool.

Massive school of fusiliers over a vibrant reef in Halmahera Indonesia

When touring through the Halmahera Islands you can expect to see not only a wide variety of corals, but also Black-tip Reef Sharks, large rays, Napoleon Wrasse, the huge Bumphead Parrotfish, tuna and Giant Trevally.

Most of the snorkel spots are around small islands, with gently sloping reefs in great depths for snorkelers. You will see beautiful sea fans, barrel sponges, fields of staghorn coral and gorgeous colorful soft corals.

You can expect to see large schools of mackerel, batfish, and unicornfish on most outings. You will also see many turtles, sea snakes, eels, crabs, shrimps, and pipefish. And clouds of pink and purple anthias hover over the shallow reefs, along with huge schools of fusilier. It is not uncommon to see five or more species of each - butterflyfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, anemonefish, and angelfish - on each snorkel site!

The area is also excellent for night snorkeling, where you will likely see lots of cuttlefish, octopus, and squid, small rays and crocodile flatheads, as well as the Halmahera Epqulette Shark, which is a type of bamboo "walking" shark.

School of sweetlips over an Indonesian hard coral reef
A beautiful yellow seahorse in Indonesia

The views above the water will also be stunning as you cruise through volcanic islands over turquoise waters, with small traditional villages dotting the shores.

Your final day of snorkeling will be in the Lembeh Strait. This is a very unique marine ecosystem, and very different than the last two areas. It is famous for its black volcanic sand slopes and shallow reefs, that are filled with some of the world's most unique and often weird critters.

Here you will look for frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, nudibranchs, and even seahorses.

Colorful nudibranch in Indonesia

What Is the Mermaid II Liveaboard Like?

Mermaid II liveaboard yacht in picturesque Indonesian islands

The Mermaid II is a 108 foot (33 meter) long twin engine steel yacht that has been exclusively chartered for this snorkeler-only adventure. She is a very comfortable and safe ship for exploring the remote regions of Indonesia.

There will be 18 snorkelers, along with one of Ben's snorkeling guides, as well as a full complement of crew.

Mermaid II Liveaboard Deck Layouts

There are eight deluxe cabins on the main deck, and two budget cabins on the lower deck. All of the deluxe cabins offer the choice of either a double bed only, or a twin bunk bed configuration, with large panoramic sea view windows, air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms.

The budget cabins have twin bunks, a vanity sink, air-conditioning, and share a bathroom with one other cabin via adjoining doors.

Mermaid II deluxe cabin in double bed configuration
Mermaid II deluxe cabin with twin bunk bed configuration
Mermaid II budget cabin

There is a sundeck in the front area of the upper deck, and a shaded outdoor lounge in the rear of the upper deck, as well as an air-conditioned lounge. The entire upper deck is a great place to lounge between snorkeling sessions, and to enjoy the views, sunsets and sunrises, as you travel.

There is an air-conditioned restaurant in the front of the main deck, where you will be served delicious meals featuring local species and fresh ingredients. The buffets are a mix of Asian and Western food.

The upper deck outside lounge on the Mermaid II
Air-conditioned lounge on the upper deck of the Mermaid II

The entire rear of the main deck is where you can store your gear and also where you either enter the water directly, or where you will board one of two rigid inflatable boats that will take you to close snorkeling spots. These smaller boats have ladders to help you get back on board, with crew to assist, as well.

Mermaid II liveaboard yacht with small rigid inflatable boat used for getting to some snorkel spots

Trip Details & 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.

Trip Dates
2023
February 24 - March 8 - One deluxe cabin female share and one budget share space available.
March 8-20 - Available.

Prices:
Deluxe Cabin: $7495 US per person (Twin/Double Share)
Budget Cabin: $6950 US per person (Twin/Double Share)

The initial deposit for this trip is $800 US per person. At 12 months before departure there is a $1000 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.

Inclusions:

  • 1 night accommodation at Jakarta Airport Hotel
  • Round trip domestic flights, transfers, and connections (Jakarta-Sorong & Manado-Jakarta or the reverse for March 8-20) with 44 lbs checked baggage
  • 11 nights accommodation and full board (all meals) on the Mermaid II Liveaboard
  • A guide from Ben's team
  • 3-4 snorkel sessions per day
Exclusions:
  • International flights
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Port clearance, harbor tax, national park fee: $275 US per person paid on board
  • Tips
  • Travel and health insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks, laundry and general sundries

Trip Organizers
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 and Nicole heading out on the snorkel boat in Alor, Indonesia.

Ben (pictured with Nicole) is our friend and snorkeling trips partner. He and his team are based in the U.K. and have around twenty 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.

Learn More About the Yacht

Mermaid II Liveaboard


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