Forgotten Islands is a long chain of islands and atolls that is part of the Southern Maluku. The whole region extends for over 600 km from Wetar to Tanimbar, following the Inner and Outer volcanic Arc of Sunda in the very far-flung southernmost where Indonesian Archipelago ends. Remote and sparsely populated, the Forgotten Islands have remained largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world. The deep sea, the lack of anchors and shelters make them accessible by liveaboard only in some periods of the year in October/November and in April/May, when the sea is calm and the wind is absent. The distance and the difficulty of access have allowed to conserve a remarkable wealth of marine life; the coral walls are perfect and of an overwhelming beauty, the fauna includes many species, from pelagic to macro, visibility is always excellent for high level dives. The various travel itineraries offered include some of those "Forgotten Islands" in combination with other islands in the Banda Sea.
1. IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT FORGOTTEN ISLANDS
Why did Forgotten Islands become famous?
Due to the diving, of course
The Forgotten Islands have some of the best diving in Indonesia. The dive sites around Forgotten Islands archipelago are characterised by pristine reefs and dramatic walls covered in soft corals, sea fans and huge sponges teeming of marine life. These tropical islands have warm water usually around 27-32°C / 80-90°F, and excellent visibility reaching 30-50 meters / 98-164 feet. During our dive cruises on Forgotten Islands you will likely see more marine life than you could possibly imagine: reef sharks, hammerheads, barracudas, mobulas and manta rays, sea snakes, huge schools of fish, massive sponges and carpets of corals as far as the eyes can see.
How is the diving in Forgotten Islands?
Remoteness, isolation, seclusion, in one word: "Forgotteness"
You will dive a place that other divers rarely. Scuba divers in Forgotten Islands are "numbered" and many sites are still waiting to be overdrafts. Diving conditions in the right season features calm seas and visibility good to excellent and the variety of dives is the key: large reefs lost in the sea on an island arc with the presence of pelagic species -including hammerheads in autumn-, macro on the islands Wetar and Babar, steep walls covered with black corals teeming jacks and napoleons on the islands of Watubela, barracudas and other pelagic species on islands Sermata, and some of Indonesia's best-loved dive sites by divers and underwater photographers packed with Rhinopias, ghost pipefish, frogfish, wonderpus and mimic octopus.
Why Forgotten Islands is the new diving hotspot?
Rare critters, ancient coral reefs and pelagic marine life
All the divers are aware that Forgotten Islands is the new diving hotspot of Banda Sea because the amazing encounters with unusual rare critters, and pelagic marine life: schools of large fish like barracuda, grouper, mackerel, and also 'cause they have fantastic opportunities for cetaceans sightings: whales, pods of dolphins and killer whales, all of this while we will be diving surrounded by splendid hanging coral gardens and huge hard coral upholstered surfaces.
Better time to dive in Forgotten Islands?
All depends of the navigability of Banda Sea
This is something that not everyone knows, Banda Sea is an open sea, vastly immense and without many options to anchor and shelter, which must necessarily be navigated in periods of calm, and carefully choosing the beginning and end of the monsoonic seasons to decide the crossing.
This is the only possible way to sail and dive the Forgotten Islands scattered in the middle of the Banda Sea: from October to November and again from April to May, and to absolutely avoid from June to September, on the dry months, but with strong wind coming from the South-East, which makes the rough sea, and from December to March, when the monsoons and sudden storms.
We navigate when Banda Sea is pleasant for diving
From October to November and from April to May
The seasonal monsoon, that is the reason why Banda Sea and Forgotten Islands can be sailed and dived only twice a year. In fact, all our dive cruises to Forgotten Island are preset on the Indonesian seasonal change only: from middle October to early December, and again in from April to May. It's wise to book early to avoid disappointments 'cause just few trips are available on the arc of the year.
Liveaboard diving in Forgotten Islands
The right season for a diving cruise in Forgotten Islands
We carefully program dives cruises in remote Forgotten Islands in the two weather calm periods of Banda Sea only: from middle October to early December and from April to May, when the winds are light or non-existent due to the changing seasons between the dominant monsoons in the region and no sudden storms are expected. On these two periods of the year, Banda Sea -one of the most exposed and windy areas of Indonesia-, became calm and very pleasant for navigate and dive. Distrust of the operators that propose you diving trips in Forgotten Islands in any season the year!
2. FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DIVING ITINERARIES
Forgotten Islands is not one but many destinations, as the itineraries that are proposed:
Itinerary Kalabahi-Saumlaki & Saumlaki-Kalabahi
The itineraries from Kalabahi to Saumlaki and vice versa explores the South of the Forgotten Islands Archipelago, starting in the port of Kalabahi in Alor Island and ending in Saumlaki in Yamdena Island. This itinerary combines the Lesser Sunda Islands, the group of islands of Maritime Southeast Asia, including Barat Daya Islands and Tanimbar Islands. Wetar, Romang, Nyata, Leti, Lakor, Moa, Dai, Nila and Masela, Babar, Yamdena these are the names of the dives sites known now as "forgotten islands" in this route.
Itinerary Saumlaki-Ambon & Ambon-Saumlaki
The itineraries from Saumlaki to Ambon and vice versa concentrates in the North part of Forgotten Islands Archipelago, starting in the port of Saumlaki in Yamdena Island and ending in the port of Ambon in the south of the Moluccas -Maluku-.This itinerary combines the most celebrated dive of Forgotten Islands, Nil Desperandum, with the stars of Banda Sea: Manuk, Koon, Nusa Laut and Banda Islands: Hatta, Ai and Run.
Itinerary Maumere-Ambon & Ambon-Maumere
The itinerary from Maumere to Ambon and vice versa sails 1,000 km from the port of Maumere on the island of Flores to the port and island of Ambon in Ambon Manise, the capital of Maluku. Besides some of the islands included in the itineraries Kalabahi-Saumlaki and Saumlaki Ambon, in this route we'll dive Maumere, Kawula, Pantar and Alor.
More Forgotten Islands Itineraries
As you may have already understood, there are several and possible alternative itineraries to dive Forgotten Islands from the Sea of Flowers to the Sea of Las Molucas, such as the Maumere-Saumlaki itinerary, or the Kalabahi-Ambon itinerary. In addition to several others that extend further east, towards Tual and that include on the route the pristine archipelago of the fantastic Kei Islands, which are part of the Saumlaki-Tual and Tual-Saumlaki itineraries. There are already liveaboard initiatives for exploratory diving cruises in the sparsely inhabited and well-known Aru Islands, which extend further east in the Arafua Sea. We'll keep posted..
One caveat, the Forgotten Islands dive cruise with Maumere-Ambon itinerary, should not be confused with the Flores & Banda dive cruise -which we prefer to call "The Ring of Fire: from Flores Sea to Banda Sea"-. However, the departure and arrival points are the same: the port of Maumere and the port of Ambon, both cruises differ substantially when at a point on the itinerary the cruise ship "The Ring of Fire" makes a change of route further west, towards the diving destinations that precisely give the name to this diving cruise "The Ring of Fire". If you are interested in learning more about The Ring of Fire diving cruise, follow the link: The Ring of Fire: from Flores Sea to Banda Sea.
As always, these are solid and proven itineraries that not only delivers fantastic diving opportunities, but also promotes a sense of adventure and uniqueness conveniently managed by our experienced boat crew, so it is expected some flexibility in the itinerary. Natural conditions as weather, tides, currents and eventual unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time, and in any case, the final say correspond to the Liveaboard Captain.
3. FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DVING ENVIROMENT
The diving trip known as Forgotten Islands is carried out following the navigation path marking the chain of islands of the Sunda Volcanic Arc, with an extension of more than 1000 km from Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, the islands that make it up have different morphology. The islands of the Inner Banda Arc some are volcanic islands with mountain peaks covered with monsoon forest: Wetar, Romang, Damar or Nila, while others are flat islands with mangroves and savanna: Kei and Aru. The islands of the Outer Banda Arc, instead, are coral islands with limestone structure, sandy white beaches fringed by palms: Leti, Luang, Sermata, Babar, Tanimbar Islands. The varied morphology of Forgotten Islands offer the traveler a wonderful spectacle of wild nature: volcanoes, virgin beaches, tropical jungles, sea trenches and coral reefs, forming a continuous and changing panorama of extraordinary beauty to appreciate from the comfort of your liveaboard. While for the diver it is the opportunity to enjoy practically all the different types of dives due to the rich and diverse diving environment like the one that Forgotten Islands can offer: walls, drifts, muck, coral gardens, pinnacles, macro, wide angle...
South Forgotten Islands diving environment: from Maumere/Alor to Saumlaki
Diving the South of Forgotten Islands means you will dive also Flores and/or Alor in Nusa Tenggara. This cruise goes from Maumere/Kalabahi in Flores/Alor to Saumlaki in the Tanimbar archipelago cruising along the natural migratory paths and playgrounds of marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, and through a wide range of geological landscapes and formations of Indonesia, from volcanic islands to limestone pinnacles developed from ancient coral reefs. This trip is guaranteed to provide amazing diversity and beauty both above and below the water in one of the most remote area of Indonesia: the south part of Forgotten Islands.
Diving South Forgotten Islands
Diving the itinerary South Forgotten Islands means that you'll dive in very little visited places, usually rich in pelagic and abundant reef fish and excellent visibility -30-50m-. You will find few muck dives and macro in Alor Straits where most of the dives will be done on drop off, with beautiful fixed fauna on the walls and possibility of see big and numerous schools of fish.
After left Alor and Solor Group we sailing direct to Maluku. Romang, Nyata, Leti, Lakor, Moa, Dai, these are the names of the major forgotten islands, the more you move to the east and the greater marine life, diving are all in the walls, the platform of the islands always falls for hundreds of meters not far from the coast, and the visibility is even better -50m-. In Forgotten Islands you will re-discover the meaning of clear waters. Wall diving plentiful of beautiful fauna overhanging, black corals and huge sponges, schools of surgeon fishes, trevallies, barracudas, many schools of fish (platax, horse-eye jackfishes, sweet lips), eagle ray, reef sharks and occasionally moon fish. We chose the Banda Islands as a strong point of this unique cruise for the rewards that every new exploration in the area gave us, in fact we can affirm that Forgotten Islands offers some of the best diving in Indonesian seas. Attractions include gin-clear waters, patch reefs and coral bommies, spectacular wall dives on impossible drop-offs.
The corals are beautiful in Forgotten Islands and of many different species and large density. For lack of space, a species often grows above the other in a continuous struggle for a few inches of rock to cling to. The marine life offers a lot of pelagic, the impressive number of groupers -some of them really huge-, big napoleons, rivers of trevally and barracuda, tuna -even these often very large-, groups of 50-60 bump head parrot fish, then turtles, batfish, surgeons, fusiliers, and all the fish barrier –a diving paradise-. Sharks we have seen of each species, fox, silvertips, white and black tip, gray nurse.
North Forgotten Islands diving environment: from Saumlaki to Ambon
Diving the North of Forgotten Islands means you will dive Tanimbar Islands (Forgotten Islands) in combination with some Banda Islands. This cruise goes from Saumlaki in Yamdena Island to Ambon passing by Species Islands cruising along a wide range of geological landscapes and formations of Indonesia, from volcanic islands to limestone pinnacles developed from ancient coral reefs, diving is all in deep walls with plentiful coral and sea life, the platform of the islands always falls for hundreds of meters not far from the coast, where the visibility is excellent. To end in Ambon, muck diving mecca.
Diving North Forgotten Islands
The diving in North Forgotten Islands became famous for the school of hammerhead sharks that can be seen there, in large groups of hundreds or individuals, the sharks have been seen in Nil Desperandum, Manuk, Soanggi. We will dive in very little visited places, usually rich in pelagic and abundant reef fish. This dive cruise provide every sample of the amazing biodiversity and beauty of the seas of Indonesia. After left Saumlaki we dive some of the major forgotten Islands: Babar, Nils Desperandum, Seroa, to sailing direct to Maluku: Manuk, Soanggi, Nusa Laut and Banda Islands: Hatta, Run, Ai, and also Ambon.
The marine life in North Forgotten Islands offers a lot of pelagic, the impressive number of groupers -some of them really huge-, big napoleons, rivers of trevally and whirlpool of barracuda, carangids, tunas -even these often very large-, groups of 50-60 bump head parrot fish, then turtles, batfish, surgeons, fusiliers, and all the fish barrier –a diving paradise-. Sharks we have seen of each species, fox, silvertips, white and black tip, gray nurse. This is a coral reef system very interesting for the uw photographer: wonders, mimic octopus, blue ringed octopus ghost pipefish, sexy shrimp, transparent shrimps, porcelain crab, decorator crabs and many other photogenic subject are the habitual residents of Forgotten Islands coral reefs in the Banda Sea.
Land excursion to Bandeneira's colonial times, the capital of Spice Islands
After diving Banda Islands a fascinating land excursion in Spice Islands take you back in Bandeneira's colonial times. Our disembarking point will be in the seafront hotel, an antiche architecture that was once protected by picturesque cannons that still now aimed to the sea. Clean and quiet the street of Bandaneria take us to the picturesque and curious museum, the Old Dutch Fort and finally the plantations, where we enjoy a tea break along with sweets and cakes made from cinnamon, glove, nutmeg.
4. FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DIVE SITES
When this diving cruise to the Forgotten Islands starts in Maumere we will dive some of the best dives sites of Flores Sea. Maumere Bay is a great diving destination in its own, plenty hard and soft corals cover the reefs, big pelagics and beautiful critters could be seen in every dive. Maumere has recovered very well from September 1992 tsunami which hit and destroyed almost all reefs of the bay. On the way to Alor the islands of Adonara and Kavula also offer good diving in a great variety of sceneries walls, drop offs, caves, pinnacles, beautiful corals, big fishes and critters.
Adonara, Kavula and Alor
The dives on the islands of Adonara, Kavula and Alor are spectacular, this is an area already known and renowned for offering top level diving, especially macro and pelagic, as well as landscapes of unusual beauty, among volcanoes that emerge from the waters and small fishing villages, those who come to our life on board with their canoes to greet us and browse. Have you seen the magnificent Lonely Planet photo of the boy with the googles made with bottle bottoms? Well, prepare your cameras in Alor and Flores, you will find thousands of photographic opportunities like that.
The first island we will find in the Banda Sea is Wetar, where it is easy to spot Cocodrylus porosus, the huge sea crocodile. A small population of these dangerous animals lives in the brackish water lagoon found in the fishing village. Crocodiles are often seen on the beach at sunset, where they usually spend the night. Despite the latent danger that these animals represent for the inhabitants of the town, the crocodiles are not eliminated, because in some traditional Indonesian cultures the crocodile is sacred and so its life is respected. According to the definition given by the local people, the crocodile is "Adat" -as well as it happens in the case of the Komodo dragon, which despite its danger is not eliminated, but rather part of the daily life of the inhabitants of the Komodo and Rinca Islands-.
In Forgotten Islands the dives are of the highest level, some even superior to the best that Komodo offers; other dives are of optimal level, with a lot of pelagic; few cases in which the quality of diving is standard level.
The new dive sites have been baptised with the names that evoke what has been seen underwater: Buffalo Reef - for the huge horned parrotfish -, "To Dai For" or "To Die For", "Hammer (Shark) Sadness ”, others are simply named after the islands: Romang, Nyata, Leti, Lakor, Moa, Dai… Here the dives are on walls 'cause the platform of the islands descends a hundred meters a short distance from the coast and the visibility is optimal. Corals are large and healthy and of many species. As in all of Indonesia, here too the macro subjects are various and numerous. Sea turtles known for their predilection to inhabit areas of limpid waters and with abundance of corals and sponges are another interesting subject to photograph in the Forgotten Islands. Marine life increase as we sail east and so the presence of pelagic: gigant napoleons and groupers, rivers of barracudas and carangidae, mackerel, tuna, horned parrotfish, turtles, bat fish, surgeon, riflemen and all kinds of barrier fish.
Sharks, we saw them of all species, whip shark or sea fox “Alopias vulpinus”, silver-tipped shark, black, white, grey shark, nurse shark… we found 2 hammerhead sharks in a dive just 5 meters deep, as we were coming to the surface.
In relation to the hammerhead shark, it is necessary to open a parenthesis, in the Mar de Banda the sightings of large banks of hammerhead sharks of 40-50 elements, up to groups of 300-400 individuals, as in the Galapalos, are always more frequent and well documented.
The large presence of hammerhead sharks, along with the general beauty of the sea beds of the Forgotten Islands of Indonesia, will be the key to developing diving tourism, or better, diving cruises in this region. The most frequent encounters with the hammerhead shark occur on some tiny atolls, far from any mainland, where it is thought that there is a place where sharks will reproduce and there are also others in the vicinity of the Banda Islands.
Serua Island - Seroa Island
The island of Serua -o Seroa- is home to the Volcano Serua. The diving around this volcanic island that rises from the deep Banda sea, far in the open ocean, is full of adrenaline. Life is poor on the island but underwater the steep walls are covered with corals, so you will experience wonderful dives with pelagics, huge schools of jacks and occasional hammerheads. Their inhabitants speak the Serua language, an Austronesian language originally spoken on Serua. The inhabitants were moved to Seram -Ceram- due to the volcanic activity of Mount Serua.
Manuk is another volcanic island where we dive while the sulphurous smoke swirling around the peak. Manuk is also known as "The Island of Sea Snakes" and/or "The Island of the Birds". This island has two unique things to offer. Thousands of seabirds inhabit the island, from frigate birds to boobies, it’s a spectacle you will enjoy. Underwater sea snakes are present by the dozen black and white band snakes, but also green ones, completely oblivious of the divers and, if we are lucky we’ll see them hunting in a pack. The reefs along this island are beautiful, a mix of walls and slopes with corals in all colours and sizes and enormous barrel sponges. In between you always will spot some sharks, tuna and jacks.
Nusa Laut it is the best example of a village taking care of a reef; the reef in front of Nusa Laut is as it was hundreds of years ago! The locals have protected the marine life habitat and now it is an outstanding diving site. A little contribution in Indonesian Rupiah to this purpose will be asked for in forcing the "no take" protected area.
The hard corals on the slope are unbeatable and the sandy bottom in the middle offers shelter to sting rays of different sizes, huge bumphead parrotfish and sea turtles. In the depths some patrolling reef sharks, white tips and grey ones, and also leopard sharks and hammerheads. The encounter with the school of bumphead parrotfish fish feeding in this protected habitat will send in bliss uw photographers and videographers, where some resident dugong has been spotted.
When this diving cruise to the Forgotten Islands ends in Ambon, we will dive some of the best dives sites of Indonesia for muck diving. The diving around the island is great, the wreck in the bay is full of life, pilot whales sometimes come close to the pier, but without a doubt Laha offers the best diving and is an unforgettable experience. Laha could be compared with Lembeh, it is pure muck at its best: mimics, flamboyant cuttlefish, rhinopias, ribbon eels, Ambon scorpion fish, frog fish by the dozens, ghost pipe fish... you name it, it is all there. The gran finale for passionate UW Photographers!
5. FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DIVING FACTS
Forgotten Islands are surrounded by deep sea water open to ocean currents and offer excellent diving visibility between 30-50 meters / 98-168 feet and water temperatures between 28-29 ̊C / 82-84 ̊F. The diving conditions in Forgotten Islands vary with the tides, throughout the day. Wind and sea conditions can still vary unpredictably, forcing navigation changes to the itinerary.
From October to November and again from April to May.
December through May.
June through November
Forgotten Islands are depth-gin-clear waters, where visibility often reach 30-50 meters.
The temperature all year around is between 27-32°C / 80-90°F. A 3 mm long wetsuit is enough, additional protection will be convenient for those who suffer particularly from the cold.
Some dives are carried out offshore reefs. On this itinerary we expect slow to medium currents. The guides will always check the current before each immersion and inform the divers. However, as we will also probably perform some exploratory dives, a consistent dive experience is recommended for this cruise. A reef hook is recommended for this diving trip.
Unknown. At the present >50.
Length of stay
Recommended 12-16 days on liveaboard cruise.
Weather & Sea Conditions
This dive cruise is proposed only during calm inter-monsoon periods, when the weather is dry and sunny with refreshing breeze and calm seas, ideally for the navigation and diving.
Navigation & Itinerary
The itinerary varies slightly between each dive cruise depending on weather conditions, currents, visibility and suitability for diving activities.
Forgotten Islands reefs are incredibly healthy and well stocked with fish of all shapes and sizes, with incredible huge shoals of fish and pelagics are on offer all around the islands. Macro lovers won´t be disappointed either, with the rainbow of Rhinopias and a lot of odd critters.
6. FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DIVING FACTS
How to get to Forgotten Islands
Depending on your dive trip itinerary -see above: FORGOTTEN ISLANDS DIVING ITINERARIES-, this is the flight information that will help you to get to Forgotten Islands, according to your especific embarkation/disembarkation harbour of your dive cruise:
Diving trip from Kalabahi to Saumlaki
- Embarking port: Kalabahi. Airport: Kalabahi
- Disembarking port: Saumlaki. Airport: Saumlaki
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Kalabahi-Saumlaki-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Diving trips from Saumlaki to Kalabahi
- Embarking port: Saumlaki. Airport: Saumlaki
- Disembarking port: Kalabahi. Airport: Kalabahi
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Saumlaki-Kalabahi-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Diving trip from Saumlaki to Ambon
- Embarking port: Saumlaki. Airport: Saumlaki
- Disembarking port: Ambon. Airport: Ambon
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Saumlaki-Ambon-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Diving trip from Ambon to Saumlaki
- Embarking port: Ambon. Airport: Ambon
- Disembarking port: Saumlaki. Airport: Saumlaki
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Ambon-Saumlaki-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Diving trip from Maumere to Ambon
- Embarking port: Maumere. Airport: Maumere
- Disembarking port: Ambon. Airport: Ambon
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Maumere-Ambon-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Diving trip from Ambon to Maumere
- Embarking port: Ambon. Airport: Ambon
- Disembarking port: Maumere. Airport: Maumere
- You will need a flight from Jakarta-Ambon-Maumere-Jakarta in connection with your international flights.
Welcome at Airport
At your arrival at airport, our staff will be there to pick you up: you will easily identify them wearing the Liveaboard T-shirt and a folder mentioning your name.
- Check in: the cruise starting date, before 12:00pm.
- Check out: at the cruise ending date, before 12:00pm.
You might need spend one transit night before and after your diving trip depending of your international flights.
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