12 nights
Duration
Mar
Month

Journey with us onboard the beautiful Mermaid II Liveaboard to the reefs of Raja Ampat, Halmahera, and the critter capital of the world-Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi. This 11-night snorkeling safari is a one-way route from Lembeh Strait in the west through Halmahera and finishing in Raja Ampat.

The focus of this unique trip will be Halmahera, but because the most convenient starting point for this itinerary is in Lembeh, we will of course spend a full day snorkeling the unique reefs in the area looking for those unusual critters before moving on to Halmaherea and then later Raja Ampat, where we will spend the last few days of the trip.

Colorful reef fish and reef with snorkeler in Halmahera Indonesia

Halmahera is one of the final frontiers for snorkeling in Indonesia, a string of islands located between North Sulawesi and Raja Ampat. Mermaid Liveaboards have been pioneering safaris into Halmahera for the last few years, there are only a few operators that have experience in this remote archipelago and many of the snorkeling sites we visit are yet to be formally named. We’ll spend about around five to six days snorkeling over the beautiful shallow coral reefs in complete seclusion – the chance of meeting divers or other snorkelers is extremely unlikely.

Our first snorkeling day of the tour will take place in Lembeh Strait where the type of snorkeling will shift slightly as we scour the shallow reefs and black sand slopes for some of the most unique marine critters in the world. Here we’ll be focusing on finding things like multiple species of frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, nudibranchs, and with a bit of luck some seahorses.

As we enter Halmahera, we’ll encounter a diverse range of fish and corals. Cruising blacktip reef sharks are regularly seen, as are Napolean wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, tuna, and bluefin trevally. The reefs tend to offer a large shallow plateau which will usually slope away from the islands. Halmahera is famous for its wide variety of coral species which includes beautiful fans, huge barrel sponges, fields of hard corals, and on certain sites colonies of colorful soft corals. With regards to marine life, one of the things most iconic to Halmahera is the constant explosion of masses of colorful reef fish, like chromis and anthias, from the reefs. Other creatures you might come across are sea turtles, sea snakes, eels, various crabs, shrimps, pipefish, heaps of anemone fish, and nudibranchs.

Night snorkels are great in this area with opportunities for cuttlefish, various octopus species and squid out hunting, small rays and crocodile flatheads out and about, as well as the Halmahera Epaulette Shark (a type of epaulet “walking” shark) which can be seen plodding along the shallows after dark.

From Halmahera, we’ll track east towards Raja Ampat where the underwater beauty and bounty will continue, only now we have the opportunity for mantas and wobbegongs!

This snorkeling safari is escorted by a Snorkel Venture team member.

*Please note that this particular itinerary covers a lot of territories and therefore involves several overnight crossings between regions where we will be in the open sea and more exposed to the elements, particularly swell.  If you have any reservations or hesitations about what it’s like onboard a liveaboard, please get in touch with us and or read this blog about what you can expect for a liveaboard itinerary such as this. 

Marine Life Guidemarine life guide Raja ampat

 


This tour is partnered with Thrive Conservation. Find out how we support Thrive Conservation via this tour here.

 

*Please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to sea and weather conditions. 

Day 1 - Meet the group in Jakarta

On arrival in Jakarta (CGK) you will check into the hotel and relax before a group dinner where you can meet your fellow tour participents, and the Snorkel Venture group leader. Over night in Jakarta.


Day 2 - Arrive in Manado

On arrival in Manado we’ll be met by a member of the Mermaid team who will drive us to the port-about one hour-where the Mermaid II boat is waiting. We will check in, unpack and relax before be a full boat briefing as well as a brief overview of the following day’s itinerary. This will be a non-snorkeling day.

Day 3 - Snorkeling in Lembeh

Our first day of snorkeling will include three snorkleing sessions at different sites around the Lembeh Strait. Here, we will explore the shallow reefs for the unique critters that dwell there.
Each day begins with a “light” breakfast before starting a site briefing for our first snorkel session. Each snorkel session will run for 60 – 90 minutes. From Mermaid II, will board the smaller zodiac boats so we can safely be dropped in the shallow. All the snorkel sessions have surface support, and you can jump on a tender and return to the main vessel if you prefer a shorter snorkel session.  After our morning snorkel, we will return to our boat and dry off. There will be dry towels waiting on the dive deck for us. A full hot breakfast will then be served. After breakfast, we hit the water again for another snorkel session on a nearby site. We return to the main boat for a delicious buffet lunch, usually 2 – 3 courses. After a little break to allow our food to digest, we prepare for the third snorkel session of the day. Afterward, there is a snack and hot beverage served (you will not go hungry on this cruise!), before we enter the water for a later afternoon or sunset snorkel, depending on the conditions and sites in the vicinity. Dinner is a 3 – 4 course meal.

We will offer 3 – 4 snorkel sessions a day. There may be a day or two when we have to make a longer crossing where we will do two longer morning snorkels. You are not obliged to participate in them all. Mermaid II is staffed with an excellent masseuse as well as kayaks.

Day 4 - 11 - Halmahere and Raja Ampat from Mermaid II

From Lembeh, we will sail overnight to a small island between Lembeh and mainland Halmahera called Tifore. Tifore is a part of the Halmahera region and has some great reefs to explore in clear blue water. From Tifore we will then cruise again overnight to the Patinti Strait where we will remain for the next three to four days.
The Patinti Strait is the narrowest point between Halmahera and the smaller island of Bacan where all the area’s best snorkeling is located. The numerous small islands and extensive coastline of both Halmahera and Bacan provide us with tons of exceptional shallow reefs where anthias and chromis explode from the reef like multi-colored confetti!
After our time in the Patinti Strait will make an all-night crossing to either Pulau Pisang-a small island volcano between mainland Halmahera and Raja Ampat that is a part of the Halmahera territory, or Kofiao-a set of islands that are on the very west or Raja Ampat. The decision as to which area we will stop at for a day of snorkeling will be based on the weather at the time of the crossing. We will spend the day snorkeling the reefs in either of these islands before making another all-night crossing into Raja Ampat.
Depending on sea and weather conditions, we will either start our time in Raja Ampat in the very south-Misool, or in the Fam Islands. The decision as to where we will start our Raja Ampat snorkeling will be made a few days before the crossing when we have a better idea of what sea conditions are like. If we start in Misool, we will spend at least a full day there exploring the beautiful reefs before cruising overnight to sites in the north for some more epic snorkeling where we hope to have encounters with things like mantas, wobbegongs, blue water mangroves, jetties, and the opportunity to stretch the legs with a nice viewpoint tour.
If we cross from Pulau Pisang or Kofiao into the Fam Islands, we’ll have lots of time to explore and indulge in all the iconic snorkleing sites and marine life that make Raja Ampat famous. The areas around the Dampier Strait are where you can find shallow cleaning stations for mantas, wobbegongs become a lot more prevalent, walking sharks can be found on night snorkels, village jetties are a safe haven for large schools of fish, while the reefs around the mangroves offer us one of the most beautiful and unique snorkeling environments.
The final day of snorkeling will either offer two scheduled snorkel excursions to give everyone enough time to dry and pack all their gear away. We spend the night onboard Mermaid II in Sorong Harbor.

Day 12 - Disembark and return to Jakarta

After breakfast and check out and say goodbye to our hosts- the amazing crew of the Mermaid II. We will then all transfer to the Sorong airport together and check in for our onward flight to Jakarta. The tour ends upon arrival in Jakarta where we bid farewell to our new friends.
Please speak to a member of our team before booking any international flights. We are also available to help should you like assistance with booking these flights.

The Mermaid II

M/V Mermaid II is a 33 meter, twin-engine steel motor yacht. One of the most comfortable liveaboards in Asia, she easily accommodates 20 guests in 8 deluxe cabins and 4 guests in a lower deck budget cabin. All deluxe cabins are located on the main deck and offer a choice of either double bed only or twin bed configuration. Each deluxe cabin offers large panoramic sea view windows. Individually controlled air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms.

Deluxe Cabin: Twin/Bunked Configuration
Deluxe Cabin: Double Bed Configuration

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

There is a wide stern gear up platform with two exit ladders and fresh warm water showers. The back deck is huge with plenty of room to gear up, individual boxes for your snorkel gear, camera tables, and plenty of rinse tanks. Enjoy fresh fluffy towels after each snorkel and hot chocolate after your night and sunset snorkels!

The dining room is at the front of the main deck where delicious Asian and western meals are served. The saloon is large and spacious with comfortable lounges, big windows, a bar fridge, and complimentary fresh roast coffee, tea, soft drinks, and juices. There is a multimedia entertainment center including a large flat-screen TV for briefing and movies, a large library, and a full selection of marine life books.

There are two outside decks–the shade-covered party deck with its comfy cushioned lounge suite around nearly the whole deck and the sun platform in front of the wheelhouse give you the choice to sun bake or not!

Vessel Guide

We will be reaching most of the snorkeling sites via a zodiac RIB as pictured below, there is a ladder and the Mermaid crew are on hand to assist with water entry and exit. A certain level of fitness is required to climb the ladder – if you have any questions on this you can contact us here.

On this page you will find our Tour Dates & Pricing (see below contact form), a Booking Form and Details of Payment schedule including deposit and final balance. If you have any further questions please complete the form and we will reply within 24-48hrs.


Make an Enquiry or Book this Tour

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    2024 Tour Dates

    7 – 19 March | Lembeh – Halmahera – Raja Ampat

    Deluxe Cabin – US $7,895 per person

    Budget Cabin – US $7,350 per person


    How to book your place?

    Initial deposit to secure your booking is $800 per person

    12 Months before departure interim deposit of $1000 per person

    6 Months before departure interim deposit of $1000 per person

    Balance due 3 months before departure

    Includes:

    • Domestic flights from/to Jakarta in Economy Class with 40 Ibs of luggage allowance
    • One night at Jakarta Airport Hotel at the start of the trip
    • Group transfers throughout
    • 11 Nights on-board the Mermaid II Liveaboard with all meals and snacks, drinking water, soft drinks, tea and coffee
    • Services of Snorkel Venture tour leader throughout
    • Guided snorkel sessions as specified

    Excludes:

    • International flights & visas
    • Snorkeling equipment rental
    • Port clearance, Harbour tax, National Park Fee: 275 USD Paid on Board
    • Tips
    • Travel and health insurance
    • Alcoholic drinks, laundry, and general sundries

    *Note: Fees and surcharges are subject to change

    Please note our cancelation policy:

    • 1 year or more: 150 USD penalty per person to switch to a credit note for use within 2 years
    • 12 months or less: Loss of deposit and interim payment
    • 90 – 28 days: 25% Refund (includes your final balance payment)
    • 28 – 0 days: No Refund

    We recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect your deposit in the event that you have to cancel your trip.

    Mermaid II liveaboard in front of Islands
    Mermaid II guests looking and dolphins riding bow wave
    Mermaid II Cabin
    Snorkeler above coral reef in Kusu island resort
    white eye moray with cleaner shrimp
    octopus standing up
    Aerial view of Raja Ampat Islands
    guest kayaking in Raja Ampat
    schooling scads in Raja Ampat
    Aerial view of Pienemu islands with boat driving through
    reef mantas swimming over white sand
    sweetlips over hard coral reef
    hard coral reef with snorkeler above
    wooden jetty on reef covered in hard coral i
    Split shot of coral reef below and raja ampat islands above
    wobbegong shark close up
    Dive deck on mermaid II
    Guests posing for a photo at Penemu viewpoint in Raja Ampat
    two batfish beneath island
    Black tip reef sharks in shallow water
    Indonesian children posing for photo underewater
    orange frogfish
    Anemone fish in anemone
    Blue and orange nudibranch
    schooling fish around soft coral colony
    guest snorkeling in Raja Ampat
    juvenile batfish on the surface
    Two cuttle fish with a snorkeler above
    purple soft coral below mangroves in Raja Ampat
    snorkeler swimming through a hole in a rock