West Papua – The Whale Sharks of Cenderawasih Bay

Southeast Asia Cruise

  • True North
  • Expedition Ship
  • 36 Capacity
  • 11 Days
  • 2015 View Departure>
    • 2015
    • Oct 18 Sun
    • Oct 28 Wed
  • Price from
  • $19,995

Summary : Visit Cenderawasih Bay and snorkel among whale sharks for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Revel in a cornucopia of diverse environments including nesting sites of leatherback turtles, ancient terrestrial caves and thermal springs, as well as some of the healthiest coral reefs and atolls in the world. Snorkel and dive some of the richest waters around from a well-appointed ship with optional helicopter excursions.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling


Prices from
$19,995 to $27,295

View All Rates

Day 1
Darwin, Australia / Sorong, West Papua

Your adventure begins amidst the tropical charm of Darwin. Transfer from city center early in the morning to your chartered aircraft for your flight to Sorong. Be welcomed aboard the expedition ship and enjoy a welcome aboard cocktail as you begin to cruise through the magnificent Raja Ampat archipelago. Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals.
The archipelago lies in the heart of the coral triangle, the world’s most bio-diverse marine region including the Cenderawasih Bay Marine Park, the largest marine park in Indonesia and setting for one of the most unique animal encounters on the planet!

Day 2
Wayag Islands

Cross the equator as we continue north to the Wayag Islands. These small beehive atolls are totally uninhabited and quite spectacular. Take a stroll along a pristine beach or for the more adventurous, climb to an island summit and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding islands. Sign up for an optional scenic helicopter flight over the island or hop in an expedition boat for some exceptional fishing.

The crystal clear waters around the Wayags will also begin to reveal the unrivaled underwater diversity of the Raja Ampat - a region that it is home to 450 confirmed species plus countless yet to be discovered species of coral – a stark comparison to the only 70 species that are found in the Caribbean!

Day 3
Ayau Atoll / Miosbekwan Island

This remote and very beautiful atoll was colonized by Papuan fishermen from Biak Island (to the east) over 100 years ago. The Ayau people are fishermen and are skilled at all means of fishing – from free-dive spearfishing to collecting edible worms from the powdery-white sand beaches. The atoll is surrounded by crystal clear water that is frequented by large pods of dolphins. The outer-reef drops sharply to over 1,000m (3,280ft) and clouds of beautiful fishes carpet the reef walls. Snorkel and dive at several sites around the atoll, or you can head off to the big-blue (outside the Ayau Marine Park) to try your luck at some deep water fishing.

In the afternoon, enjoy a traditional dance on the island of Miosbekwan with exceptional drumming.

Day 4
Amsterdam Islands

The ship’s naturalist will introduce the intriguing Amsterdam Islands – another opportunity to marvel at the unrivaled beauty of the area’s stunning coral environs. Explore World War II wrecks including the Junkyard. During the war the US Navy scuttled small boats and barges off the island. The discarded items have morphed into an artificial reef that sits in about 30m of clear water. Hard corals, sea whips, sea fans and soft corals have established and an interesting mix of fish life can be observed around the wreckage. Divers can swim all around the area following schools of barracuda and fusiliers. Optional helicopter flights over the reef’s myriad of colors will be hard to resist.

The day’s highlights will include an evening visit to see nesting leatherback turtles. The leatherback is the largest of all sea turtles. It can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. The species is currently considered to be critically endangered and opportunities to view nesting animals are rare.

Day 5
Mapia Atoll

Mapia Atoll is a very remote, exquisite atoll offering perhaps the ‘holy grail of fishing’. Mapia is actually located north of the equator and has a classic atoll structure. It’s a day to enjoy the clarity and splendor of this beautifully remote location. The vertical walls of Mapia Atoll rise several thousand feet from the ocean floor and come alive with brilliant soft corals, gorgonian sea fans, sponges and a myriad of tropical fish. Snorkel, dive and fish to your heart’s content in this natural playground!

Day 6
Purupi Island / Wairundi Island

Purupi and Wairundi are known for their beautiful beaches. Enjoy an opportunity to beachcomb and swim in the crystal clear waters of an inviting lagoon. There may be time to inspect some indigenous rock art near Purup.

The expedition boats will be away to snorkel, dive, fish and sight-see. The area is also known for copious elephant ear sponges. Sea fans and whips decorate the underwater slopes and fish life, notably schooling fusiliers, barracuda and trevally, is plentiful. The helicopter is also available for an added charge and is the perfect vehicle to cover maximum ground.

Day 7
Cenderawasih Marine Park

Roon Island and the wonders of the Cenderawasih Marine Park beckon with its excellent snorkeling and diving. The Cenderawasih Marine Park comprises the southwest quarter of Cenderawasih Bay. The protected area supports a wide spectrum of relatively undisturbed coastal and marine habitat and the extensive coral reef rank amongst the finest in the world. The marine habitats, in particular, contain a number of rare and commercially important fish species.

There are also some beautiful waterfalls in the area with opportunities for bird watching. Join the crew for a village visit. Walk around Yenda and discover the local culture – the village church contains a bible that dates back to 1898. In the afternoon we will relocate to the southern end of the island – here a Zero fighter lies on a hard coral shallow slope. This whole area is covered with masses of soft corals, sea fans, whips & elephant ear sponges. Green turtles, barracuda and surgeonfish are known to swim alongside divers.

Day 8 – 9
Cenderawasih Bay / Misowaar Island

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest fish in the sea! They feed predominately on plankton and can grow to more than 12m (39ft) in length. Nothing compares to a whale shark encounter in Cenderawasih Bay! Here whale sharks linger close to the surface for extended periods to take advantage of small fish that spill from the nets of local fishermen. This behavior provides even the most inexperienced snorkeler with a unique opportunity to truly interact with these mammoth fish. Join the crew this morning for a once in a lifetime experience!

The marine park is also renowned for diversity in fish species. About 209 species inhabit the park include numerous species of colorful butterfly fish, angelfish, damselfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish and anemone fish. Species of mollusk are also diverse and four species of turtle are often seen. They are the hawksbill turtle, common green turtle, Pacific Ridley turtle, and the leatherback turtle. Dugong, coconut crab, blue whale, dolphin, and various shark species are other frequent visitors to these waters.

Time is also available to explore the underwater cave at Tanjung Mangguar and a terrestrial cave on Mioswaar Island containing ancient remains and a freshwater thermal spring.

Day 10
Auri Islands

Today we visit the beautiful southern end of the Auri Islands. Experience amazing diving and snorkeling at Tridacna Wall and Wild Fish Reef. Spend the afternoon snorkeling around old sunken planes in this pristine coral reef.

Day 11
Biak / Darwin, Australia

Enjoy breakfast before clearing customs on-board. Transfer to Biak airport in preparation for the chartered flight back to Darwin.


This itinerary is subject to change due to prevailing conditions and local arrangements. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Optional Helicopter Excursions:
Scenic helicopter flights can be purchased as a package or individually. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Optional Diving:
Divers must provide proof of certification onboard. Divers are provided with cylinders, weight belts, weights, mask, snorkel and fins. Divers must arrange their own personal dive equipment including regulators, BCD and wetsuit. It is highly recommended that divers bring their own dive computer. the sharing of dive computers is not permitted. Divers must dive with a safety sausage. If you do not bring your own you will be required to purchase one onboard. Night dives may be offered. If you intend to night dive, you must bring your own primary light source. A secondary or back up light source is also recommended.

'No shoes onboard' policy:
This policy assists with safety and promoting a casual atmosphere onboard. However if a medical condition necessitates, footwear may be worn. All passengers will need appropriate footwear for shore excursions.

Accommodations as booked; meals aboard the vessel; non-alcoholic beverages; all excursions in the expedition vessels; snorkel gear; divers are provided with cylinders, weight belts, weights, mask, snorkel and fins; transfer from Darwin city center to airport for charter flight to Sorong; charter flight from Darwin to Sorong; transfers between ship and charter flights; charter flight from Biak to Darwin; port charges and taxes; fishing gear (except lures). Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; passport and visa fees; scenic helicopter flights; alcoholic beverages; diving regulators, BCD and wetsuit, safety sausage, dive computer and dive light (must bring your own of these items); items of a personal nature including but not limited to travel and medical insurance, onboard shopping, valet and laundry service; satellite phones and Internet Cafe charges; fishing lures (available to purchase onboard); fuel surcharge may apply.