if you’re looking for a perfect diving trip in Komodo or Raja Ampat, the MV Ambai liveaboard (click to view available dates & prices) has likely crossed your radar.
Launched in 2012, this vessel promises not just the thrill of the dive but an embrace of luxury and comfort.
But does it truly deliver on its promises? Dive in with me as I explore the nooks and crannies of Ambai, from its diving expeditions to its accommodations and amenities.
I’ll weigh the Liveaboard’s offerings against its price tag, so you can decide if this Indonesian Liveaboard journey is the splash you’ve been yearning for.
Diving Experience on the MV Ambai
The MV Ambai offers a dive experience that is both memorable and unique, and while it ventures to multiple sites across Indonesia, a notable mention is the diving in Komodo.
A note about Komodo diving with Ambai
Komodo, known for its biodiverse marine life, presents a colorful canvas of corals, schools of fish, and larger marine species like manta rays and sharks.
But beyond the mesmerizing marine scenes, one should be aware of the strong currents dominating many regional dive sites.
The shifting tides, influenced by the moon and the region’s topography, can make some dives challenging, especially for novice divers.
Komodo’s underwater wonders are truly a spectacle to behold, but divers should possess a bit more than just basic experience to make the most of it.
Strong currents suggest that divers should feel comfortable underwater and have good buoyancy control.
While the MV Ambai’s dive guides are there to ensure your safety, being confident in your skills will undeniably enhance your experience.
Don’t get me wrong; Komodo is mesmerizing and one of my favorite dives ever! It’s definitely worth it. Just be aware you need some experience; some of the divers in my group did not enjoy some dives as they weren’t comfortable enough to handle the currents.
Dive sites might vary from calm, shallow reefs to deeper drift dives where the currents play a pivotal role.
As well, as an extra tip, if you have enough experience but did not dive for a while, I highly recommend stopping in Bali or Lembongan and doing a few dives there first to get back into it!
Safety Equipment on board
Safety remains paramount on MV Ambai. The vessel has essential safety gear, including life vests, emergency rafts, oxygen, first aid kits, and more.
Moreover, MV Ambai maintains a commendable ratio of dive guides to divers, ensuring a more personalized and safer dive experience.
The availability of modern navigational equipment and communication tools underscores this attention to safety.
Life on board
Living on a liveaboard is an experience that merges the thrill of the sea with the comforts of home, and the MV Ambai offers a unique blend of both.
Regarding rest and respite, MV Ambai by Wallacea divecruises houses eight cabins designed to cater to 16 passengers.
These spaces aren’t just about functionality; they also offer a touch of luxury. Each cabin has individually controlled air-conditioning units, ensuring personal comfort regardless of the outside climate.
Ensuite private bathrooms accompany each room, stocked with basic amenities, including hot water, complimentary towels, and toiletries.
The cabins are well distributed, with options on the lower and upper decks, some offering serene sea views.
Food and Cuisine
While the surrounding oceanic views add to the ambiance, it’s the mix of Asian and Western cuisines that truly steals the show.
Guests can expect a range of freshly prepared meals, ensuring diversity and quality. Soft drinks are included, and meals often cater to the dietary needs and preferences of the divers.
Amenities and Common Areas
Beyond the dives and meals, MV Ambai’s common areas offer spots for relaxation and socializing.
The air-conditioned lounge is perfect for a laid-back evening, where guests can relive their diving adventures, often projected on a large screen.
The decks, some sunlit and others shaded, provide options for relaxing with a book or soaking up the sun.
A notable highlight for many is the dedicated camera room, especially for underwater photographers keen on maintaining and prepping their equipment.
While diving remains the primary attraction, life onboard MV Ambai isn’t limited to it. The vessel often anchors near lush islands, allowing guests short land excursions.
These trips offer a change of scenery, allowing divers to explore the local flora and maybe even catch a sunset or sunrise.
Additionally, with onboard massage services available, relaxation is just an appointment away.
Raja Ampat Itinerary
Stepping into the rich aquatic world of Raja Ampat is akin to embarking on an odyssey of color, biodiversity, and unparalleled natural beauty. Set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat is a refuge to some of the most diverse marine life on the planet. This itinerary offers a comprehensive insight into what makes the region a diving Mecca.
All Raja Ampat cruises set sail from Sorong (SOQ), an easily accessible city with daily flights from major Indonesian International Airports such as Jakarta, Manado, Makassar, and Denpasar.
Jakarta, served by the convenient Emirates EK 356 flight, is the recommended international airport for travelers. Following a layover, there are direct 4-hour flights from Jakarta to Sorong. The trip ends with a return from Sorong to Jakarta, aligning perfectly for those catching the international flight EK 357.
Diving in Raja Ampat:
Here, every dive feels like a page out of a marine encyclopedia. With an extraordinary concentration of corals, gorgonians, and fish, you’re treated to nature’s spectacle in its rawest form. From swirling schools of trevallies, barracudas, and bump-head parrotfish to the majestic manta rays, every dive promises a visual treat. Watch for bigger surprises such as tunas, Spanish mackerels, and the enigmatic “carpet shark” – Wobbegong.
Regions you’ll Explore:
- Misool & Dampier Strait: Dive deep into this area to witness stunning wide-angle views, an array of colorful soft corals, and a diverse macro life. Batanta stands out for its incredible macro dives, while you can also expect encounters with mantas and other vibrant marine life.
- The North: Beyond its underwater charm, it is renowned for its picturesque landscapes. The constellation of tiny islands beckons with promises of less explored dive sites, even if slightly subdued compared to the South.
The essence of Raja Ampat lies in its untouched purity, often revered as the “last frontier.” The sites you’ll dive into are as varied as they are captivating – from pinnacles to lagoons and everything in between.
Expect to be mesmerized by barracudas, surgeonfishes, Bumphead parrotfish, trevallies, and so much more. The lesser-seen wobbegong, tunas, and manta rays might grace your dives.
Not to forget the macro wonders like seahorses, frogfish, and scorpionfish amid the expansive gorgonian fields and soft corals.
Beyond the Blue:
Land-based excursions serve as a perfect complement to your underwater adventures. From visiting local villages to short treks in search of the enigmatic Birds of Paradise, Raja Ampat offers a mix of cultural and natural exploration. The scenic beaches, lagoons, and treks enhance the holistic travel experience.
The package ensures comprehensive care, from airport transfers, all meals, and guided dives to nitrox availability. Accommodations in a shared twin or double-bed cabin promise comfort throughout the journey.
While the package is expansive, divers should note additional costs such as international and domestic flights, fuel surcharge, park and port fees, and potential equipment rentals.
In essence, the Raja Ampat itinerary beckons with a promise of marine wonders, untouched landscapes, and a dive into the rich tapestry of Indonesia’s aquatic realm. Prepare to be enchanted.
Halmahera (Ternate – Ternate) Itinerary
Dive deep into the underwater marvels of Halmahera with this comprehensive 10-day itinerary that takes you on a mesmerizing journey through one of Indonesia’s lesser-known diving havens. Each dive site presents a unique canvas of marine life, offering macro enthusiasts and big fish lovers an experience to remember.
- Day 1: Ternate – Start your journey with a warm welcome at Ternate airport by the MV Ambai crew. Once aboard, you’ll be given a cabin, treated to a ship orientation, a safety briefing, and an introduction to the crew. Dive paperwork is sorted before setting sail. As you settle in and take in the initial vibe of the trip, an optional check dive is offered in the afternoon to acclimate you to the waters.
- Day 2: Ternate – Plunge into the waters around the islands of Ternate, Tidore, and Mare. With up to four dives, including a night dive, you’ll start uncovering the marine treasures of Halmahera.
- Day 3: Goraici – Explore the Goraici islands cluster. Dive into the day with three vibrant dives and a surreal night dive.
- Days 4 & 5: North Pantitie Strait – Experience the aquatic wonders of the northern Patientie Strait over two days, totaling up to eight dives, including two nocturnal dives.
- Day 6: South Pantitie Strait – The southern regions of the strait beckon, close to Bacan island. Dive three times, with one dive exploring a wooden shipwreck, offering a hauntingly beautiful experience.
- Day 7: Bacan – Dive in the waters of South Bacan Island. Up to four dives, including a unique muck dive close to the Labuan village, promise to showcase the region’s rich biodiversity.
- Day 8: North Bacan & Goraici – Experience the pristine waters to the north of Bacan before diving into Goraici’s surroundings. Four dives await to unravel the marine mysteries of the area.
- Day 9: Goraici to Ternate – Embark on the last two dives in Goraici. As you head back to Ternate, you might get to explore the historical fort of Ternate, which encapsulates a perfect blend of aquatic and terrestrial exploration.
- Day 10: Ternate – As the trip culminates, you’ll check out and be conveniently transferred to the airport or a downtown hotel.
Marine Life Highlights:
Expect to be awed by swirling schools of barracudas, majestic mantas, stealthy sharks, and the delicate Hippocampus Denise. Macro enthusiasts can look forward to spotting the elusive Bagibant, Rhinopias, Wonderpus, Mimic Octopus, and many colorful nudibranchs.
Things to Note:
Divers embarking on this journey should have an Advanced Open Water certification with at least 30 logged dives for safety and to enjoy the experience fully. Extra costs apply, such as park & port fees and fuel surcharges.
With a dynamic blend of vibrant reefs, intriguing shipwrecks, and a bounty of marine life, the Halmahera (Ternate – Ternate) itinerary promises an underwater adventure that resonates long after the dives are over.