VISIT THE BANDA ISLANDS

A beautiful landscape full of history
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    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Hike Volcano
    • Nutmeg Island’s spices
    • Empty Beaches
    • World-class Diving 
    • Hammerhead shark
    • 17th century fort
    • Liveaboard
    • Multi cultural
    • Seafood 
    • BBQ on the beach
    • Manta Ray

The Spice Islands

Banda Neira is the main island of those that make up the Maluku archipelago. The other name for the island is The Spice Islands. It possesses a rich history in the spice trade. Banda Neira has numerous buildings and museums where visitors come to learn about its past.

It is home to the trade of some of the world’s most sought after spices, including Buah Pala (nutmeg). You can be sure to sample and enjoy some wonderful local spiced food including fresh ikan (fish), tempeh (made from soybeans) and sayur (vegetables).

You may in addition meet with a local guide for a Spice Tour.

An oceanic paradise full of unique species

However, guests often visit the beauty of Banda Neira to explore the oceans. There is world-famous scuba diving spots in Banda Neira, an opportunity to encounter diverse marine life. Discover healthy corals, impressive clarity and even hammerhead sharks.

You may also wish to check out the amazing Mandarin fish! The best time to see these tiny fish is around dusk, in the shallow areas of the reef.

Mandarin dragonet fish are brightly coloured and stand out, hiding in the rubble near the pier. You may see other marine treasures across the dive sites.

Marvel at the underwater Lava Flow

One area in particular that captures the excitement of exploring the unknown, is an area called the Lava Flow. This is where hot lava flowed into the ocean just over twenty years ago when Gunung Api erupted. Lava Flow left an area where coral has now been growing since 1988.

With over 30 dive sites, this remote area in Maluku is worth the adventure.

For non-divers, the conditions make it perfect for those wishing to snorkel in tropical waters. You can see incredible shallow reefs, colourful fish, reef sharks, sea turtles and much more!

Views from Mount Gunung Api

Looking to see more of The Spice Islands? It is possible to take a guided hike up Mount Gunung Api where you will have an incredible view from the top. The hike starts early in the morning to avoid the tropical heat. It takes around two hours to ascend depending on your group and the weather conditions, as the climb is over 650 m.

An island full of rich history

Built in the 17th century, Benteng Belica Fort was for protecting the important nutmeg spice trade. You can walk inside the fort and see the view from the top which looks out over the ocean. This offers a special look at the sunset.

It has been well-preserved and is today a main tourist attraction on the island. In addition to Belgica, you can take a walk around the island and visit Rumah Budaya. This is where you can see displays of items like coins and other colonial artefacts.

A worthwhile visit for foodies

There is a small local pasar (market) on the waterfront selling fresh produce each day. You can also discover a handful of cafes and restaurants.

Street food within The Spice Islands are most commonly found in the evening where you can enjoy local delights. What about Nasi kuning (yellow rice)? It is steamed with turmeric served with a selection of different vegetables, noodles, tofu and fish. Or even try some of the simple chicken satay.

The food is simple and delicious and local cooks can cater for vegetarian or vegan guests. Many meals consist of rice, vegetables, tofu and tempeh.

Experience the difference of culture

The closest airport to Banda Neira is the port of Ambon Maluku which is a common starting point for many charters. On the island, the local people use motorbikes and bicycles for travelling around. However, it is a wonderful location to walk around and explore.

However, it is important that you are sensitive to the local people when walking around the island and in the villages. Tourists should be comfortable covering up their knees and shoulders. For example, you may do this by using a beautiful authentic sarong to cover swimwear.

Can I rent a bareboat in Indonesia ?

No, unfortunately, the government does not allow bareboat. In some way, it is safer for you, as the maps are not always accurate in these remote areas. The captain with his crew will show you the best places.

Can I participate in the manoeuvres with the crew?

Yes, if you know how to sail and want to participate, you are welcome to help the crew.

How do I get to get there?

The Bandas were really off the beaten track, but transport offers (from Ambon) are increasing and making it easier to access these islands. Flight or boat cancellations are very frequent, and therefore you should only go to Banda Islands while having plenty of time (i.e. not having a visa expiring soon, or booked flights). Transport offers and schedules are highly subject to changes, so check schedule when arriving in Ambon.

By plane

The Banda Islands are served by the small  Bandaneira Airport (or Banda NeiraNDA IATA). Susi Air is operating the flights under a subsidy, making this slightly cheaper than a speed boat. This is not a fixed route (only operating around Sep – Nov), therefore the route cannot be found on the airline’s website and tickets must be bought at Ambon Airport.

Booking is available through ambon@susiair.com. It is a very small plane (12 people capacity), and you can only bring 10 kg of luggage. The airplane returns to Ambon on the same day.

In addition, since there are regular airlines (Wings and Garuda) flying between Kei islands and Ambon, going to/from Ambon through Karel Sadsuitubun Airport (LUV IATA) in the Kei Islands can also be an option, if everything else is cancelled.

By boat

  • A fast boat (6 hours) goes from Ambon (Tulehu Harbour) to Banda Neira twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday. The boat returns the next day from Banda to Ambon. Note that the fast boat can be cancelled if the weather is bad! For example, there was no service in January 2017.
  • Pelni‘s ferry runs twice monthly from Ambon, stops in Banda Neira, and continues to Kei Islands. Though uncomfortable and inconvenient, this is the cheapest option.

An alternative is the rather more regular but still unpredictable twice-monthly Pelni ferry (KM Ciremai) to Bandaneira, which usually leaves Ambon on Saturday afternoon (7 hr). Every other week a 150-passenger boat (KM Gravilla) leaves for Banda (around 15 hr). Check at the small harbour in Ambon.

Would you like to know more?