Banda Islands Indonesia
In the country comprised of more than 15000 islands, lies a small archipelago on the eastern part of Indonesia, Banda Islands. Banda Islands is comprised of 10 volcanic islands located 140 kilometers from the south of Seram Island in the Banda Sea. The 10 islands include Banda Naira, Banda Api, Banda Besar, Ai, Rhun, Pisang, Hatta, Nailaka, Manuk, and several small islands. This mini archipelago is part of the Central Maluku Regency and offers an offbeat track to this hidden paradise and historical landmark of Indonesia. Banda Islands has the main town called Banda Naira or Banda Neira. According to the 2010 census, there are only approximately 18000 people inhabiting the Banda Islands, making this remote archipelago to stay natural and becoming a tourist destination especially for those who yearn for vibrant natural landscapes of pristine beaches and tropical forests.
Banda Islands is popular for its history, panoramic view, and gorgeous underwater marine life. In the past, Banda is famous all over the world for its spices, especially nutmeg, cloves, mace, and other spices. It is so popular and was found only in Banda Islands that Portuguese actually came to Banda to look for the spices as a commodity that was very precious at that time. The colonization lasted for several decades until the Dutch came and took over the Spice War with the British – who claimed Run Island as its own. Under the Treaty of Breda in 1667, the Dutch and the British had agreed that England shall receive New Amsterdam that later turned into New York, while the Dutch received Run Island.
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The historical vibe cannot be left out while you’re visiting Banda Islands there will be historical footnote wherever you go to Banda. Aside from its historical landmark, Banda has more destinations worth your visit where you can enjoy tranquil moments in this mythical land. Here are some of the list to visit while you are staying in the Banda Islands.
1. Banda Naira
Some might say that you haven’t visited Banda Islands if you haven’t been to Banda Naira. This beautiful island is surrounded by turquoise sea with corals and vibrant marine life and has been internationally recognized as one of the best diving spots in the world. Along with its wonderful panoramic view of this island, Banda Naira is full of historical sites. Benteng Belgica or Belgica Fort, for example, was built during the 1600s on the hill. This massive fortress has good condition even after numerous earthquakes hit Banda. Try to climb on one of the towers to see the view of Banda Naira from above. Other historical sites including, Rumah Budaya and Hatta’s House.
2. Hatta Island
Hatta Island is your go-to spot when you’re looking for snorkeling and beach time. You can easily lay back or get your equipment to snorkel. There are dive shops and many bungalow areas. You can also rent a boat to go fishing! There are public boats that leave between Banda and Hatta every day, except due to the weather.
3. Rhun Island
Rhun Island is the one island that was swapped for Manhattan for its spices especially nutmeg and mace. The islanders nowadays can still find the tropical tree Myristica fragrans grow everywhere. The locals use it to make candied sweets, soup, jam, and sprinkle it in their coffee. In Rhun Island, there is another historical footnote known as Iron House where the Dutch might have used it for plantation. Another attraction is Pulau Nailaka, an islet so small on the eastern of Rhun. This islet is the perfect pristine white sandy beach with tropical trees where you can lay back for as long as you wanted and enjoy the view of Gunung Api. This islet is so small that you can walk the island for 10 minutes!
4. Banda Besar
Banda Besar might derive its name for its size, so far Banda Besar is the largest of the Banda Islands. This island is also the main location for spices especially nutmeg plantations. You can take the tour of spices in Banda Besar and learn the history as well. There are numerous villages in Banda Besar and historical attractions such as Benteng Hollandia or Hollandia Fortress. This fort is built in 1624 and was once the biggest Dutch fortress in East Indies. Aside from the historical sites, those who love hiking and beaches will be very pleased to see the panoramic view of the mountainous Banda Besar and great reefs.
Eager to start your journey to Banda Islands, plan your next flight to Ambon. Flying to Banda is still unreliable, the schedule can be canceled due to the weather. More reliable transport is by ship. Once you are in Ambon, you can cross to Banda Neira with Pelni ships. You can also visit by liveaboard from Ambon as well.