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.