Banda Islands Travel Guide

The Banda Islands are situated in secluded corner of Indonesia where a delightfully small number of tourists venture each year. Snorkeling is the official holiday pastime due to the outstanding marine environment.

In the 1600s this was the epicenter of the Spice Wars, a struggle between European powers. The greater province (Maluku) had a reputation for cloves, but the Banda Islands were the only place in the world where nutmeg was grown. Eventually, the Dutch gifted the British with New Amsterdam (modern-day Manhattan) in exchange for a local monopoly on nutmeg exportation.

Since the export of nutmeg saplings, spices have fallen into the background for the Banda Islands. Visitors are now more interested in the unique geological features. The Maluku coral gardens are immediately offshore, offering a one-of-a-kind snorkeling experience to visitors based on the main island, Pulau Banda Neira.

There are several other onsite attractions in reach of the main island. Gunung Api is a volcanic mountain jutting from the sea. When it isn’t erupting, hikers can climb to its peak for an unrivaled view over the archipelago. UNESCO-honored Fort Belgica is another major site and the most prominent remnant of the islands’ colonial heritage.

Getting There & Away

Bandaneira is the port of call, with regular boat traffic to and from other islands in Maluku. An hour’s flight connects to Ambon, the provincial capital and transportation hub. From here it takes 5 hours by air to reach Jakarta, where a host of international flights are available.