Itinerary Alterations and Alternatives
Our written itineraries must be approached with reasonable flexibility. When touring at sea, weather, currents, and even harbour masters don’t always co-operate with our planned itinerary, which sometimes make our planned schedules challenging or even impossible to carry out. Your tour leader and ship’s captain are always working hard to create an itinerary that best suits each situation and the needs of each guest onboard. Sometimes this means suggesting additional or alternative activities and destinations that they believe would be an improvement to your original itinerary. The flexibility to make these kinds of alterations (in addition to those due to circumstances beyond our control) in the best interests of all are part of the adventure.
The tour price includes breakfast daily, lunches/picnics and evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch/packed picnic and D=evening meal.
Indonesia is known for its “jam karet” or rubber time, meaning that time and schedules are considered flexible. However, your Captain and Tour Leader will do their best to provide an accurate time schedule for land activities. Your Tour Leader will keep you updated on departure times and procedures.
Motoring and Sailing
The Ombak Putih is a motor Bugis gaff ketch. In order to adhere to our planned itinerary, the ship depends on motor cruising. The itinerary is scheduled so that the boat usually begins its longer journeys in the afternoon or during the night, so that you can fully enjoy land activities during the day. The seven beautiful sails are raised when it is beneficial, and the wind and weather are in our favour.
Each night during your cruise Jeffrey Mellefont will give a richly illustrated lecture delving into the following topics:
- Silk, Spice and Gunpowder – the world’s most ancient and valuable trade: how nutmeg and clove from Maluku drew traders from all over the world to explore and conquer, leading to the beginnings of globalisation and the first multi-national companies.
- Tanah Air Kita – Indonesia, this ‘land of water’, and the early mariners who burst out of mainland Asia to settle this huge, wide archipelago before conquering all the other adjacent oceans – and the brilliant sailing technologies they pioneered.
- Mighty Maritime Empires – how great Indonesian mercantile states arose through control of the Indonesian archipelago’s sea lanes, and fell in turn; how maritime trade brought currents of world history swirling through the islands introducing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and the cultures of China, India, the Middle East and Europe.
- A Tapestry of Seafarers – Indonesia’s many different sailing cultures and their brilliant innovations – the Sea Gypsies (Sama-Bajo); the Madurese, the Mandar, the Butonese, the Bugis and Makassans – and Bali’s secret, hidden fleet!
- Celebes Ships – the story of our own ship Ombak Putih and her lineage, developing from the unique maritime traditions of the famous Bugis and Makassans of South Sulawesi, down the turbulent centuries as their sultans fought colonisers and their sailing fleets dispersed them throughout these islands.
- Great Guest Voyages – many Europeans have been inspired by Indonesian sailing traditions. Sail the Moluccas with Captain Thomas Forest on a native kora-kora in 1775; Alfred Russel Wallace searching for the bird of paradise on a Bugis prahu in 1856; colonial administrator G E P Collins ordering his own Celebes palari cruiser in the 1930s.
- The Best Language – Bahasa Indonesia: this fascinating, user-friendly language unites an incredibly diverse maritime world. The history of the language is a maritime history of this archipelagic nation. After this simple introduction you’ll be trying it out yourself ashore, with guidance, help and cheat-sheets at hand.
Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 1: Monday 14 January, Arrive Sorong
- Arrival Airport Transfer
- Board Ombak Putih: Welcome & Briefing
- Cruise towards Waigeo Island & Optional Snorkelling
Picked up from the airport by our hosts in the quaint West Papuan port of Sorong, we board Ombak Putih and settle into our air-conditioned cabins. Our cruise director and dive master will familiarise you with the vessel’s facilities, safety procedures and your snorkelling gear as we weigh anchor. We immediately enter the protected marine area of Raja Ampat, and cruise towards the nearby island of Waigeo. Lunchtime introduces gourmet buffet dining beneath the deck awnings, and there’s our first swimming or snorkelling stop along the way. At anchor our daily evening routine begins: scenic sundowners on the upper deck, then Jeffrey Mellefont’s pre-dinner, illustrated lecture in the saloon. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) LD
Arborek Island, Raja Ampat Archipelago, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 2: Tuesday 15 January, Arborek Island
- Pre-dawn forest trek to spot the Red Bird-of-Paradise
- Yenbeser village & replica of Wallace’s forest hut, Gam Island
- Arborek village & the Manta Ray Conservation Project, Arborek Island
Our pre-dawn quest is to spot the Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), trekking with village guides through a forest alive with night insect-song and then the birds’ dawn chorus. From a birdwatcher’s hide we hope to see the elaborate courtship dance as day breaks over the forest canopy. This bird of paradise was one of the species sought by Alfred Russel Wallace, and we visit Yenbeser village where he spent months. Nearby is a replica of Wallace’s forest hut built by villagers with plans by Flora & Fauna International and a grant from our ship’s operator, SeaTrek. We sail on to tiny Arborek island, easy to circumnavigate by foot, to meet the Asai people who represent the intersection of Austronesian and Melanesian cultures. Villagers will proudly explain Arborek’s giant manta ray conservation project. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Wofoh & Waigeo Islands, Raja Ampat Archipelago, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 3: Wednesday 16 January, Wofoh & Waigeo Islands
- Snorkelling at Wofoh Island
- Pearl Farming at Aljui Bay, Waigeo Island
On Waigeo’s complex western coast, we explore uninhabited Wofoh – three island jewels linked by pristine coral reef. We can snorkel, navigate the islands by ship’s tenders or kayaks, or relax on the beach. After lunch we sail northwards to Aljui Bay, home to the Cendanda Pearl Farm. Producing high-quality seawater pearls is an important industry throughout Indonesia, favoured here by Raja Ampat’s pristine, remote waters. With the farmers’ permission we can visit their facilities and learn about the pearling processes. In the evening we cross the Equator to the northern hemisphere on our journey to the islands of Wayag. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Wayag Islands, Raja Ampat Archipelago, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 4: Thursday 17 January, Wayag Islands
- Karst Spires of Raja Ampat, Wayag Islands
- Snorkelling and Optional Hike, Wayag Islands
Today we wake-up within the natural splendour of Raja Ampat’s Wayag islands. The beauty of these picturesque karst spires is perhaps only equalled by the brilliant colours and vibrancy of the reefs and the marine life that flourishes below. Nature has carved these islands into a series of coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves, jagged rocks and shaded, sandy beaches. For those who dare, there are some spectacular but nearly vertical climbs that are rewarded with magnificent panoramas. Alternatively we can swim, snorkel, kayak and paddle board. At the end of the day we will go ashore to a deserted beach where our crew will prepare a special beach barbecue. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Day 5: Friday 18 January, Wayag Islands
- Snorkelling and Swimming, Wayag Islands
This morning we can sleep in, if we wish, as we stay at anchor to enjoy another amazing day on the unpopulated Wayag islands, which are simply Raja Ampat’s best. We will make the most of this unique region, navigating the maze of mushroom-shaped islands, and stopping for swimming and snorkelling. Later, we set our compass in the direction of Penemu. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Penemu Island, Raja Amput Archipelago, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 6: Saturday 19 January, Penemu Island
- Optional Trek to Penemu Hill for Scenic Views of Hidden Bay, Penemu Island
- Snorkelling, Kayaking or paddle-boarding, Penemu Island
The heart of uninhabited Penemu island is the scenic wonder known as Hidden Bay. Its name scarcely does justice to the extraordinary, extroverted geography of these limestone islands sculpted into incredible forms by the monsoon seasons and shifting sea levels. We take a short hike to the top of Penemu Hill to be astounded by one of Raja Ampat’s most spellbinding views. The rest of the day we spend exploring by ship’s tenders, kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling in the surrounding island-scape. There is so much to explore. In the early evening we set course for Kofiau. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Kofiau & Boo Islands, Raja Ampat Archipelago, West Papua, Indonesia
Day 7: Sunday 20 January, Kofiau & Boo Islands
- Trek to Inland Lake, Kofiau Island
- Shore Excursion to remote Boo Island
Little-visited Kofiau is out on the far western fringes of Raja Ampat – so remote that several new species of birds have recently been discovered. Its tiny population of Betieu people speak a distinctive language – as do every one of the populations we visit on this voyage. We communicate in the Indonesian national language, based on an ancient traders’ and sailors’ lingo, Malay, used throughout these islands. A short hike through gardens and forest takes us to an inland lake. Even further west, the obscure, tiny Boo islands are only seasonally inhabited by Betieu or Moluccan fishermen. These islands are a fair blueprint for a beachcomber’s paradise; we may be the only foreign visitors to have set foot here in a year. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Bacan & Doworalamo Islands, Northern Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia
Day 8: Monday 21 January, Doworalamo Island
- Sea Gypsies of Doworalamo Island
We round the southern tip of Halmahera island – formerly one of the old spice sultanates – to reach a group of islands at the entrance of the Patinti Strait. A stop at Doworalamo Island allows us to visit a village of the famous sea gypsies, known in Eastern Indonesia as Sama-Bajo. Until recently they spent their entire lives, from birth to death, on their small sailboats called lipa-lipa. Now the modern world – intolerant of people of no fixed address – has pushed them ashore. Landless, their homes are always built on stilts over coral reefs or the tidal margins of remote islands such as this one. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Day 9: Tuesday 22 January, Bacan Island
- Rainforest trek spotting parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets and/or visit to Payahe Bay
The waters we’re sailing were once dotted with sultans’ spice-trade galleys, Portuguese caravels, Spanish galleons, Dutch jachts and English pinnaces. Now, we find local outriggers, sampans, island ferries and sail-trading sloops called lambo. Bacan Island is where Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the golden birdwing butterfly and the giant mason bee Chalicodoma pluto. We’ll keep a close watch for these and a host of endemic species including parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, the elusive cuscus or a rare black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku. It’s the wrong side of the Wallace Line for monkeys; these ones were introduced. Activities can depend on conditions. Options include a visit to Payahe Bay and a forest trek to a waterfall. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Makian Island, Northern Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia
Day 10: Wednesday 23 January, Makian Island
- Makian Island hot springs
We cross the Line for the third time to awake in the Northern Hemisphere – and, arguably, Indonesia’s most stunning seascape. Four perfect, brilliant green volcanic-cone islands emerge from the sea in a straight line stretching south to north, parallel to the rugged, forested spine of Halmahera Island. They are Makian, Moti, Tidore and Ternate. We’ll stop first at Makian, dominated by the volcanic Mount Kie Besi (1357 metres). There are interesting expeditions ashore and good places to snorkel along Makian’s palm fringed, white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, and natural hot springs. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Tidore Island, Northern Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia
Day 11: Thursday 24 January, Island of Tidore
- Old town of Soa Siu
- Ancient clove plantations on the slopes of extinct Kiematabu volcano
- Farewell Dinner
Picturesque Tidore is dominated by the extinct Kiematabu volcano (1730 metres), its slopes clad with plantations of shapely clove trees. Cloves were once endemic to these few islands, so valuable in world trade that sultans and European powers fought for centuries to monopolise them. A fleet of local taxis brings us to the old port of Soa Siu, the colonial-era strongholds Fort Torre (Portuguese) and Fort Tahula (Spanish), and the palace of the Sultan of Tidore. We can visit clove plantations on the volcano’s flanks, or a blacksmith working an ancient design of piston bellows. A seashore monument marks the 1521 visit of Magellan’s battered fleet, first ever to circumnavigate. This final evening on our magnificent ship features a farewell dinner and cultural performance from our captain and crew. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD
Depart Ternate: Northern Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia
Day 12: Friday 25 January, Depart Island of Ternate, TOUR ENDS
- ‘Kedaton’, Palace of the Sultan of Ternate
- House of Alfred Wallace
- Fort Toluko & Fort Oranje (time – permitting)
- Departure transfer
This morning we explore Ternate city beneath towering Gamalama volcano (1715 metres). Capital of North Maluku province and seat of one of four historically powerful Moluccan spice sultanates, it’s still a vital spice-trading outlet. We can visit the house where Alfred Russell Wallace penned Charles Darwin his crucial ‘Letter from Ternate’ offering his own theory of evolution. It’s opposite the 17th-century, pagoda-style royal mosque and near the palace of the Sultan of Ternate, with its rich collection of heirlooms. Time permitting we can visit Portuguese Fort Toluko or Fort Oranje built by the VOC (Dutch East India Company). Returning to the boat, it’s farewell to captain and crew and transfers to the airport, or to local hotels for those choosing an extended stay in the Moluccas. BL