North Indonesia Snorkeling Trip
Bunaken National Park, Halmahera, and Raja Ampat
20 or 22 Day Small Guided Snorkeling Group, Exploring the Coral Triangle From Three Stunning Resorts
September 26 – October 15, 2023
April 3-24, 2024
Wow, wow, wow. This lucky group of 16 snorkelers will experience an epic tour of three stunning areas of the Coral Triangle in Indonesia, from three beautiful resorts.
Your first stop is Bunaken National Marine Park in north Sulawesi, and you will be staying right in the park at the remarkable Siladen Resort (pictured below). The reefs here are rich with healthy corals, schools of fish in great varieties, and tons of turtles.
Next you will explore Halmahera from the Kusu Island Resort. This is dream snorkeling, with a vibrant house reef, full of life, and many nearby reefs you will visit by boat, and some great night snorkeling opportunities.
Your third destination will be in Raja Ampat, from the Papua Explorers Resort. Located near the Dampier Strait, you will see lush soft corals, sea fan forests, and hard coral plateaus. You will have many chances to see manta rays, wobbegong (carpet) sharks and epaulette (walking) sharks, as well as several types of turtles, and a variety of colorful reef fish.
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.
This small group trip is exclusively for snorkelers. It is a unique opportunity to experience a 20 or 22 day guided remote adventure filled with fantastic reefs, beautiful landscapes, and remote island resorts.
Watch the Video Below for a Quick Preview
Where in the World Do You Get to Snorkel?
You start this North Indonesia snorkeling trip once you arrive at the Manado Airport in North Sulawesi. The Siladen Resort staff will then transfer you by vehicle and a short boat ride to their island, which is within the Bunaken National Marine Park.
You will have five or six nights at the Siladen Resort, using it as a home base to explore by boat different snorkel spots close by.
Next you will be taken back to the airport in Manado, for a short flight to Labuha in South Halmahera. The staff from the Kusu Island Resort will then transfer you by vehicle and boat to their resort island.
You will have six or seven nights at the Kusu Island Resort, exploring their amazing house reef, and taking boat rides out to close snorkel reefs.
Next you will be shuttled by boat and vehicle back to Labuha for a quick flight to Manado, where you will spend one night at the Novotel Manado Resort, enjoy a little down time, and have a group dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.
The next morning, you will fly from Manado to Sorong, where you will be met by the staff of the Papua Explorers Resort. A short vehicle ride, and a 1.5 hour boat ride will bring you to their resort for seven nights, with days filled with extraordinary Raja Ampat snorkeling.
After your stay at Papua Explorers you will be transferred back to Sorong where you will catch your final flight to Jakarta.
About Bunaken and the Siladen Resort
You will be staying at the Siladen Resort for five or six nights. The island is in the Bunaken National Marine Park, which offers huge biodiversity and rare and endangered animals.
The 343 square miles of protected marine park boast an astounding variety of hard and soft corals, beautiful fans, seven species of giant clams, 33 types of butterflyfish, Bumphead Parrotfish, and a massive variety of other fish species.
The island reefs start very shallow near shore, then drop off into steep walls that plunge down into great ocean depths. These depths create ocean currents that bring cooler waters and nutrients, which is one reason why the reefs are so full of life and healthy.
Snorkeling along the shallow shallow reef tops allows you to see colorful corals and abundant fish life in warm tropical waters. There will be four or five full days of snorkeling, from the excellent house reef, and from two all snorkeling boat trips per day to different unique reef areas.
When it comes to an exclusive island experience Siladen Resort is hard to beat. Your private, well appointed accommodations are meters from a white sand beach with beautiful garden views. The resort has a pool, lounge, and spa to pamper yourself with a massage or scrub.
The rooms are air-conditioned. And the restaurant serves an excellent and delicious mix of international and local dishes. They are usually able to accommodate guests with special dietary requirements.
About Halmahera and Kusu Island Resort
You will spend six or seven nights at Kusu Island Resort, which is ideally located within the Coral Triangle, in the waters off South Halmahera, between North Sulawesi and Raja Ampat. 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.
Kusu Island Resort occupies the southern portion of the stunningly beautiful Kusu Island, with sandy beaches, mangroves, hiking trails, jungle, and a wonderful open air restaurant.
The reefs in Halmahera have astounding biodiversity, and are very healthy. Many are shallow and abundant with hard and soft corals, and clouds of reef fish to delight snorkelers. 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 in Raja Ampat.
The area is so unexplored that most of the sites visited have yet to even be named.
You will venture out by snorkel boat for five or six full days to two sites in the morning, and another after lunch. Plus the house reef at the resort also offers exceptional snorkeling. And there may be night snorkeling opportunities here also.
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 perfect 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. You can bring your own snorkel light or rent one from the resort.
The resort is not only in an ideal location, it is also a joy to relax in when you are not out snorkeling. Your beautiful Ocean Villa is located on the shoreline, either over it, or slightly back on a sandy beach.
Each villa has a large private deck, sun loungers, a hammock built into the deck, an open air en-suite bathroom, and is backed by a lush jungle. There are fresh water showers on each deck to rinse off after a dip in the ocean.
The Kusu Island Resort’s restaurant is right on the waterfront, with stunning views. There is a lounge area with comfortable seating for enjoying the company of your fellow snorkelers. And the restaurant serves excellent food of Asian and international specialties. Special dietary requirements can normally be met with a little advance notice.
About Raja Ampat and Papua Explorers Resort
You will be staying at the Papua Explorers Resort for seven nights. The resort is located in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, in the Coral Triangle, which is the most bio-diverse marine environment in the world.
You may have heard of the incredible underwater biodiversity of the Coral Triangle area of Indonesia. Well, Raja Ampat is known to have the most species of marine life in all of the Coral Triangle. There are nearly 1,500 species of reef fish, 600 species of hard corals, seven giant clams species, seven species of sea turtles, and 57 species of mantis shrimp. And pelagic life is abundant in the area.
You will have unlimited access to the house reef and six days of three boat snorkel sessions per day. On both the house reef, and the many other reefs close by that you will visit by boat, you can expect to see healthy coral gardens dense with hard and soft corals in perfect snorkeling depths. In fact Raja Ampat is known for excellent snorkeling in particular because of the amount of life on the shallow reefs. You will find large volumes and varieties of fish schools, and will have good chances seeing bigger fish such as manta rays, reef sharks, and schools of barracuda and jacks.
Night snorkeling will also be offered on the house reef. You can bring your own underwater light or rent one from the resort.
Why is there so much life around the Papua Explorers Resort? The resort is located on the edge of the Dampier Strait, in the central region of a marine protected area. The strait pumps nutrient rich waters through the area which supports an abundance of marine life, large and small.
You will experience a great variety of underwater ecosystems, all close to the resort, from shallow fringing reefs to sea mounts, walls, and manta cleaning stations.
Beneath the surface swarms of small fish such as damsels, fusiliers, and anthias mill about on the reef flats, while not too far away large schools of tuna, trevally, and mackerel congregate. Spadefish, surgeonfish, and barracuda gather under docks and around reef points, while angelfish and butterflyfish decorate both the reef flats and jagged coral towers. Expect fields of soft corals like you’ve never seen them before, and hard coral reefs are healthy and abundant as well.
Papua Explorers Resort is very eco-friendly, both in how it was created and how it is run. They also created the Raja Ampat SEA Center, which is an NGO dedicated to conserving Raja Ampat’s marine life through Science, Education and Awareness. They won the 2019 Sustainability Award first place prize from the ADTO (Association of Dive Tour Operators). They are a good place to support.
Your overwater bungalow is built in traditional Papuan style with local materials, but with modern comforts. All bungalows are equipped with a bathroom, including a shower with hot water, a ceiling fan, a mosquito net, a working desk, and a comfortable seating area.
The rooms do not have air-conditioning, but with the rooms being over the water and with the ceiling fans, they are cool. Enjoy sunsets and sunrises on your spacious veranda, with a hammock and comfortable lounge chairs. You also have your own stairs down into the sea. There is satellite based WiFi internet available in the common areas.
The resort restaurant also sits over the water, and is an excellent place to view the stunning surroundings. You will be served traditional Indonesian cuisine as well as international comfort foods and snacks between snorkels. The resort 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.
In addition to your spacious rooms and the restaurant there are also some common areas that are great for chatting with new friends and for relaxing. Or get a massage in the open air spa.
Resort Snorkel Boats
All three resorts utilize large, safe, and comfortable snorkel boats, that you can get back on board at any point during a snorkel if you get tired.
Trip Details and How to Sign Up
This is a small group trip and we expect it to fill quickly. Your spot is reserved with your deposit. Contact Ben below for deposit instructions.
2023 Trip Date:
September 26 – October 15 – Trip full, request to be waitlisted below.
2023 Trip Price:
$8950 US per person (Twin/Double Share)
Single Person Supplement: $1850 US
2024 Trip Date:
April 3-24 – Available
2024 Trip Price:
$9700 US per person (Twin/Double Share)
Single Person Supplement: $3350 US
The initial deposit for this trip is $800 US per person. At twelve months before departure there is a $600 US per person interim deposit. At six months before departure there is a $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 to avoid the single person supplement. If he cannot find you someone, no single supplement surcharge will apply.
- All flights, transfers and connections, includes 44lbs luggage allowance on flights – Manado – Siladen – Kusu – Papua – Jakarta
- Group transfers throughout
- 5 or 6 nights Siladen Resort in a Garden Villa Double Occupancy with full board
- 12 or 15 boat snorkel sessions over 4 or 5 days from Siladen
- 6 or 7 nights Kusu Island Resort in a Deluxe Villa Double Occupancy with full board
- 15 or 18 boat snorkel sessions over 5 or 6 days from Kusu
- 1 night Novotel Manado in a Standard Room Double Occupancy with full board
- 7 nights Papua Explorers Resort in a Deluxe Room Double Occupancy with full board
- 18 boat snorkel sessions over 6 days from Papua Explorers
- Unlimited house reef snorkeling at all resorts
- Services of snorkel guides throughout
- International flights (booking available on request)
- Snorkeling equipment rental
- Gratuities and general sundries
- Travel and health insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
- Spa services
- Marine park fees for Raja Ampat: $100 US and Bunaken: $10 US paid locally (approximate and subject to change).
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.