The beauty of having three days between cruises is that you get to explore a new place before going back out and the island of Ternate was just the spot! Sitting at the base of Gamalama volcano was lovely little Villa Ma’rasai. Our group couldn’t have been happier. Locally owned, this little boutique villa was filled with art, musical instruments, furniture, and literature the owners had collected on their travels throughout. This was the perfect stop for us to relax, give our ears a break, try the local cuisine and watch the sunset with views of nearby Tidore volcano with a cold beverage in hand.
The second trip was more of the same with a great group and outstanding diving throughout. The islands around Halmahera have abundant and diverse dive sites. A string of four volcanos run up the West side of the main island and these provide excellent black sand muck diving, walls and wonderful hard coral reefs. Sprinkled throughout the region are seamounts and pinnacles covered with soft corals and marine animals. We were able to explore some new places before heading west for Sulawesi and the islands off her north-east corner.
But first, we stopped in the strait between Halmahera and Sulawesi at an island group called Palau Tifore. In the water around a seamount just offshore, the main island is a school of barracuda that numbers more than one thousand. It was here that we had what most people considered the most surreal dive of the cruise. There are not a lot of places where it is still possible to see a school like that. The dive was so unbelievable we did it twice. Some beautiful dives off the island of Taliese and then we made our way to Lembeh Strait for a couple last dives in its critter rich waters.