Welcome to Snorkel Vacations!
The waters around Raja Ampat are perfect for snorkeling! Snorkel Vacations provides snorkelers the opportunity to snorkel the best of Raja Ampat, Indonesia in the comfort, safety, and access of a live-aboard boat but without the high costs of group travel.
It’s that simple. We know many snorkelers are just as enthusiastic about marine life as SCUBA divers, but don’t have the same access to sites in world class destinations like Raja Ampat. We know the few choices available to snorkelers, whether it’s joining live-aboard boats with SCUBA divers and becoming second priority, or the limited access of being resort-based, or the expense of organized group travel.
Our company was created to offer an alternative
We charter the entire boat for snorkelers to ensure that our snorkeling activities remain the focus of every day. We have led snorkeling tours on the Sea Safari 8 several times in the past and they are always excited to be a part of our activities. With the live-aboard boat we have access some of the best sites throughout Raja Ampat. Imagine waking up each day in a new location, refreshed and ready to snorkel!
It’s what’s not included that makes us special
There are no additional costs associated with group tour leaders, group resort-stays before and after the trip, and expensive travel itineraries. We charter the entire boat, which includes local guides, and offer it to independent traveling snorkelers.
We may be less expensive than other operators, but we did not sacrifice on quality to get there. We chartered an experienced, industry-leading, live-aboard boat and crew, and have over 20 years of combined experience planning and guiding snorkeling tours in Raja Ampat. Our tours are designed to provide snorkelers with a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable experience. Our next departure will be November 22 – 30, 2022!
Destination: Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat possess some of the planet’s most vibrant and healthy coral reefs, showcased in a variety of tropical marine habitats. Scientific studies have shown the area contains over 1500 species of tropical marine fishes and over 600 species of corals. In tandem with the high diversity is the high number of marine habitats that are found throughout the archipelago. Protected coral gardens, blue-water mangrove, and seaward reefs are just a few of the types of habitats that exist in Raja Ampat. More importantly, all of these habitats and reefs are shallow and easily accessible to snorkelers!
Raja Ampat, or four kings, is located off the northwest tip of West Papua, Indonesia. The four kings refer to the four main volcanic islands, Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool in the archipelago of more than 1500 islands and islets. Legends state that the names actually refer to four men that were hatched from four of seven eggs found by a woman. Each man chose one of the four islands to live upon, ultimately becoming kings. The other three eggs? Perhaps on a more mysterious note, they hatched into a ghost, a woman, and a stone…
The four main islands of Raja Ampat have dozens, if not hundreds of smaller spectacular islands and islets that create a network of intimate lagoons, narrow passages, and quiet bays. The islands are karst limestone capped with dense tropical forest that supports over 350 species of birds including parrots and hornbills. Our snorkeling activities take place largely in these stunning surroundings, and with the incredible reefs in the area, why Raja Ampat is regarded so highly in the tourism and scientific communities!
We’ve led over 50 snorkeling trips to Raja Ampat, our first one in 2007 when only a couple of live-aboard boats plied the local waters. With nearly 20 years of exploration and experience, our itinerary is written with emphasis on the incredibly rich underwater world, but also includes the opportunities to see rare and endemic birds, cruises through tropical islands water-mazes, relax on private sandy beaches, and summit dramatic rock islands for unforgettable views.
Using a live-aboard affords us the chance to include our favorite areas, places like Dayang, Penemu, Dampier Strait, and northwest Waigeo. The following itinerary represents the places that we intend to visit, but weather, tides, and regulations will largely dictate the daily schedule.
Day 1: Arrive in Sorong at the designated time, meet with the representative for Sea Safari 8 who will arrange transfers to the boat. While the Sea Safari 8 will embark immediately upon clearance, it won’t be until well after dark before we reach the island of Batanta. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 2: Our first day of snorkeling takes place on western Batanta Island where one of the healthiest hard coral gardens in all of Raja Ampat can be found. From branching corals to massive boulder corals, it seems like just about every family of coral is represented here. The water flow through the area also attracts a huge number and diversity of reef fishes, including manta rays that feed in the area during strong tides. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 3: The Fam Islands are a tiny archipelago made up entirely of limestone. Many of the reefs around the islands are steep and exposed, which gives us the chance to snorkel with thousands of reef fish as the converge along the walls. Schools of fusiliers, snappers, unicornfishes, and surgeonfishes are common as are pyramid butterflyfishes, peacock groupers, and several species of sweetlips. In the afternoon, we’ll spend an hour snorkeling over a shallow reef close to the entrance into the lagoon on Penemu Island. After a dinghy tour in the maze of rock islands, we’ll have the chance to climb stairs to reach an overlook with commanding views of the Fam Islands. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 4: Alyui Bay has a couple of unique habitats. The erosion of the limestone islands along the waterline created a shaded habitat that may not have promoted the growth of hard coral, but with the flow of water through the area the unoccupied substrate quickly became crowded with colorful soft corals and encrusting sponges. Tunicates and their predators, nudibranchs, are also common. We will also snorkel along an island where we will visit habitats such as hard coral gardens, sand and rubble, and steep walls covered with soft corals. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 5: Wofo is two small, picturesque islands offshore from Waigeo. Each islet has their own private beach, and at low tide the islands are connected to each other by the now exposed back-reef and rubble zone. We spend the day snorkeling reefs on the southeast side of the islets, where shallow reef flats slope gently into the sandy substrate below. Several easy passes between the coral reef gains entry into a quiet sandy lagoon where we look for sea horses and other bizarre marine organisms. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 6: Yangeffo is a couple of mangrove islands separated from Gam by a narrow passage of water. Due to the strong water movement in the area, clear blue seawater surrounds the mangroves and corals grow not only right under the mangrove roots, but often directly on them! The shallow reef, clear blue water, and unique habitat make this a special destination that is a must for all snorkelers! Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 7: The islands of Mansaur and Kri possess rich seaward reefs that face directly into Dampier Strait. These reefs are generally why people love to snorkel. The coral growth along the sloping walls completely covers the substrate and the volume of water that flows through the area attracts large schools of reef fishes including schooling predators like barracuda and trevally. Just about every species of tropical marine fish can be found here and there is even a resident ‘herd’ of bumphead parrotfish. Sharks and turtles are common and with the location of the islands into Dampier Strait, anything may swim by at any time! Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 8: We will spend our last day snorkeling the reefs around the island of Friwinbonda. We begin the snorkel on a steep wall that begins right from shore. Red, purple, and yellow sea fans adorn the walls, and we can also get close the island’s edge to look for nudibranchs. As the reef extends away from the island, we can get on top of the reef flat to look for octopus and walking sharks! We’ll depart early in the afternoon for Sorong. Overnight Sea Safari 8.
Day 9: Disembark Sea Safari 8, transfers back to the airport in Sorong.
Sea Safari 8
The KLM Sea Safari 8 is a traditional Phinisi Buginese Schooner built to bring snorkelers and divers to the underwater world of Raja Ampat. A large, spacious live-aboard, the Sea Safari 8 measures 115 (35m) long by 33 feet (10 m) wide and has twelve rooms that can accommodate up to 22 guests (more below). Safety equipment includes seven life rafts (four inflatable, 3 with motor), EPIRB, GPS, Satellite phone, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers throughout, and ENOS diver locator systems. Meals are a selection (and sometimes fusion!) of western, Indonesian, and Asian dishes and served buffet-style in the air-conditioned dining area. Non-alcoholic beverages are included, and there is a selection of wines and local beers for purchase. The adjacent lounge has plenty of couches and a flat screen TV and library complete with guidebooks to local marine life. The upper deck has a covered lounge area perfect for relaxing between snorkels or at sunset, and the top deck has lounge chairs for those seeking the sun. For more information about the Sea Safari 8, please click here.
Sea Safari 8 has twelve rooms, four cabins on the middle deck and eight cabins on the lower deck. The four cabins on the middle deck are all designated double occupancy (queen beds) and the eight rooms below are the following configuration: Four rooms with twin beds (side-by-side); two rooms with queen beds; and two rooms with bunk beds (upper and lower).
Nov. 22 - 30, 2022 Prices
The following prices are for the November 22 – 30, 2022 departure:
Double occupancy, middle deck, $3700 per person
Double occupancy, lower deck, $3400 per person
Twin share, lower deck, $3400 per person
Bunk bed (quad share), lower deck, $3000 per person
Single occupancy, lower deck, $4700 per person (limited availability)
Reservation deposit: $500 (per person)
May 31, 2021: $1500 USD (per person)
July 31, 2021: Balance (per person)
Tour cost includes:
- Accommodations on day 1 through day 9
- All meals on days 2 through 8 (lunch and dinner on Day 1; breakfast on Day 9)
- Round trip transfers from Domine Eduard Osok Airport (Sorong) to the Sea Safari 8
- Non-alcoholic beverages while on the boat
- Snorkeling and park fees
Tour cost does not include:
- Round-trip international airfare
- Internal transfers or travel except noted above
- Hotel accommodations and meals outside of the program dates
- Visa requirements including payments
- Alcoholic beverages
- International departure taxes
- Extra / overweight baggage fees
- Trip insurance
- Evacuation insurance through DAN (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
- Any required COVID-19 tests
- Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost
If the tour gets cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments of either or both of the originating and destination countries, we will reschedule the tour at no additional cost. We cannot be responsible for any penalties or costs associated with international or local travel, or accommodations that may result from the cancelled departure.
Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information
What to Expect
What to Expect
The islands of Raja Ampat lay mostly south of the equator thus, weather year round is hot and humid, with daily rainfall in the form of quick downpours often in the morning or late afternoon. Daytime temperatures hover around 86º F and water temperatures average around 82º F. Our activities are 100% boat supported by two dinghies to assist anyone for whatever reason.
We will have the chance to visit beaches and to climb staircases for panoramic views on Penemu. Beach walks require loose fitting clothes and foot protection that can get wet (e.g., sandals or neoprene booties). Our summit walk requires sturdy foot wear, but the walk is simply climbing a series of wooden stairs.
Each day we will have two snorkel sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning snorkel begins and 9:00AM and last for a few hours. The afternoon snorkel session begins at 2:30PM and last for a couple of hours. Meals are generally: Breakfast: 7:30AM, Lunch: 12:00PM, Snack: 4:30PM, Dinner: 6:30PM. The schedule will change on Day 3 to incorporate the hike in the afternoon on Penemu, and on Day 8 to accommodate the boat’s required departure time for Sorong.
Participation is completely flexible
Guests can decide to join the snorkel sessions or not, or once out there, decide to return to the boat at any time. If guests decide not to join the snorkeling activities, there are kayaks on board for use, or guests can arrange to be dropped at a nearby beach where they can relax in their own paradise for a couple of hours.
Please consider bringing the following items:
- A good fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins.
- A wetsuit, rash guard, diveskin, or any type of clothing that can be used for thermal and/or protection form the sun. We suggest bringing a full 3mm wetsuit and some type of core insulation like a vest or shirt made of 1 – 2 mm neoprene (e.g., Lavacore or Sharkskin shirts or vests).
- Head protection in the form of a wetsuit hood, a cap, or even a bandana.
- Casual, lightweight, tropical clothing
- Comfortable footwear such as active sandals (Teva, Keen, Merrell, etc.)
Other items that may be considered:
- Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower
- Personal toiletries, though the boat will have soap/shampoo.
Frequently Asked (very good) Questions:
Why not just join a SCUBA diving live-aboard as a snorkeler? There are several reasons why this isn’t a good idea for a snorkeler. To no ones fault and understandably so, sites are chosen with SCUBA divers in mind and tend to be deeper, or with strong current, or wavy. And if the reef is further away from the dive site the boat may have to bring snorkelers back on the boat for safety reasons while they follow the divers. And, of course, now that there is a live-aboard boat dedicated for snorkelers, this question becomes a bit moot :-).
What about staying at a resort? A resort is a good option, but for the avid snorkeler and in places like Raja Ampat, staying at a resort is very limiting in terms of seeing and snorkeling in a variety of habitats, and over different types of reefs. Raja Ampat is nearly 50,000 sq. miles in size and having a live-aboard simply allows greater exposure to all that Raja Ampat has to offer.
How are the prices inexpensive compared to similar trips offered by other tour operators? It’s what we don’t include that makes us special. There are no additional costs associated with group tour leaders, group resort-stays before and after the trip, and expensive travel itineraries. We charter the entire boat, which includes local guides, and offer it to independent traveling snorkelers at fair prices based on the cost of the boat.
Why go with Snorkel Vacations? We have nearly 20 years of combined experience designing snorkeling tours and have personally guided over 50 snorkeling trips in Raja Ampat. We chartered a quality boat, designed and will run a fantastic itinerary that offers snorkelers the best of Raja Ampat, and all at very good prices.
Does the lower price reflect a sacrifice on the quality/safety of the boat? Absolutely not. Sea Safari Cruises has been successfully operating live-aboard boats, five boats including the Sea Safari 8, in Indonesia for over 30 years. Sea Safari 8 has been working in Raja Ampat for nearly 15 years and possesses more than the required compliment of safety equipment and keeps a well trained crew on watch 24/7. For more information about the Sea Safari 8, click here.
Will there be guides on the boat? Yes, the boat carries three dedicated SCUBA/snorkeling guides and a cruise director that often jumps in the water as well. Two dinghies bring guests from the main boat to the snorkeling site and both dinghies remain to assist snorkelers with whatever they need.
Will there be an agent in Jakarta that guests can contact? Yes. We have an agent in Jakarta that can assist travelers with logistical issues. Please note that we will not have booked any pre, post, or internal travel or accommodations, thus our agent may be limited in what he can do.
What is the cancellation policy? 91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost. 90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost. If the tour gets cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments of either or both of the originating and destination countries, we will reschedule the tour at no additional cost. We cannot be responsible for any penalties or costs associated with international or local travel, or accommodations that may result from the cancelled departure.
How is this different from your other company, Coral Triangle Adventures? CTA offers all-inclusive, high-end service and accommodations, professionally guided, tours. Snorkel Vacations offers only the opportunity to be on a live-aboard boat that focuses on snorkeling activities in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. In a sense, it’s what’s not included is what makes us special. There are no additional costs associated with group tour leaders, group resort-stays before and after the trip, and expensive travel itineraries. We charter the entire boat, which includes local guides, and offer it to independent traveling snorkelers.
Our blog gives us the chance to write about our snorkeling adventures. We’re a bit new, but please check back with us, especially after one of our exciting snorkeling tours!