The Jewel of Moluccass, 16th century spice trade route
To begin to understand the rich history of Indonesia, one must embark on a journey to 11 Banda Islands, which are located in the heart of Banda Sea. The remote islands are surrounded by the deepest sea in Indonesia at 24,409 feet (7,440 meters). Despite its remote location, European ships sailed there from the early 1500’s in search of the “Gold” (Nutmeg) that grows on their special trees.
This archipelago was the world’s sole source of nutmeg and mace, the fragrant gold that sparked the European Age of exploration and helped finance the Netherlands, the richest of all 17th century countries. The value of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), which controlled these spices, was in today’s currency worth more than Apple Corporation today. These islands shaped the history of modern international trade.
Very few people in the world will get an opportunity to visit this paradise. It is filled with the romantic cone shaped volcanoes, palm-fringed islands, lush green jungle, golden sand beaches, old nutmeg plantations, and fisherman out in the cobalt blue waters in their painted dig-out canoes.
The rich nutrients of Banda Sea waters surrounding these isolated islands provide a perfect habitat for spectacular coral reefs and pelagic to shelter. Best time to sail is October when the sea is calmer and the visibility is optimal, just in time for the highest possibility of hammerhead shark sighting. It also coincides with their annual festival celebrating their unique culture.
From a visit to a fortress in Saparua, a lazy sunset time at pristine beach of Maulana to scuba diving on the colorful reefs of Nusa Laut you will be introduced to the spirit of the Moluccas. The cone-shaped Banda Gunung Api will welcome you to the heart of the Banda Archipelago. This volcano is also known as “The Etna of the Banda Sea.” The last recorded eruption in 1988 subsequently covered the reef in lava, however the reef has recovered faster than anyone expected. While under water, you may notice the blooming hard coral gardens that are unlike any other within the Coral Triangle.
Just before sunset, you can immerse yourself in front of the Maulana Hotel to gaze at the stunning mating Mandarin fish. We will take you to the south for scuba diving and/or snorkeling at Batu Kapal, and/or Hatta Reefs “Sekaru” in Bandanese Language, which means “shallow area”. This Reef is the close to the 6,000-meter /20,000- feet deep Banda Trench, which makes it a special dive site which attracts big pelagic including strong hold of hammerhead sharks.
Take a leisurely walk through Neira town and explore the two old forts: Nassau and Beligica. Stroll the mysterious paths that lead to interesting places, colonial-era mansions, ageless shop houses, and an ancient Chinese temple. As you walk on the 313 stairways of Lonthoir Village in Banda Besar, it will lead you Kelly Plantation where centuries-old Kenari trees towering protectively over a nutmeg groves.
During the festival, there are Kora-Kora races and traditional Cakalele dances inviting you to join. Ai villagers are very friendly and the unique culinary choices made with these special spices make for an experience that you and your family will never forget. End your sail with a visit to Run island which was traded by the British to the Dutch for Manhattan Island, New York in the 17th century. By that time, the British had already renamed Manhattan from New Amsterdam to New York.
Embark the rich history of Indonesia on a journey to 11 Banda Islands