We had the great joy of travelling to this part of the world with Geoff Gearheart, a naturalist who is deeply involved in turtle conservation. We travelled on the Putiraja, a converted Indonesian cargo boat, and saw only one other boat the whole time. The carst limestone isles were the equal of Halong Bay, without all the tourist boats. The snorkeling was out of this world, at least the equal of the Great Barrier Reef, and we even got to swim with whale sharks in Cenderawasi Bay. Our attempts to stay a meter away from these massive creatures were thwarted by them surfacing over, under and beside us. If you can do it, don't hesitate.