The 11 islands of Banda are located in the heart of the Banda Sea. European ships sailed there from the early 1500s in search of the “gold” (nutmeg) that grows on special trees. These islands formed the history of modern international trade. Only a few people in the world get an opportunity to visit this paradise filled with romantic, cone-shaped volcanoes, palm-fringed islands, sumptuous green jungle, golden beaches and enchanting nutmeg plantations. The nutrients of the Banda Sea provide a perfect habitat for spectacular coral reefs to bloom into some of the most acclaimed on Earth!
Imagine 7 days cruising on board a luxury sailing vessel, with friends and family, taking in the following 9 exciting highlights.1. Spice tour in Banda Besar
Banda Besar is the biggest island in the Banda archipelago and is known as the Great Nutmeg Island. It is painted with dense tropical forest with plenty of rainfall to grow spicy treasures such as nutmeg, kenari and cinnamon. Take a Spice Tour and learn about their fascinating history. Start your day early by visiting the vibrant fish market and fragrant nutmeg plantations. Immerse yourself with the locals, joining them in their distinctive traditions and frequent, colourful ceremonies.2. Fort Hollandia in Banda Besar
Visit the overgrown ruins of this 1624 Dutch fortress. Sitting high above Lonthoir village, it’s easily accessible with a 15-minute climb. End your day with one of Banda’s best views from the Fort; a palm-fringed Gunung Api and its sapphire waters.3. Hiking Gunung Api volcano
The silhouette of Banda Gunung Api greets you in the heart of the Banda archipelago. There is no more fabulous way to wake up than with a cup of coffee in front of “The Etna of Banda Sea.” Banda Api is an active volcano with a massive 7 kilometer-wide caldera. A 5-minute boat ride from Banda Neira will take you to Banda Api Island, where you can hike to the top at 640 meters.
Very little has changed in this area since Europeans first arrived in 1512. Blooming hard coral gardens that are unlike any other within the Coral Triangle. A fantastic variety of birds including frigates and shearwaters. An impressive volcanic cave directly facing the ocean, where you can snorkel and swim underneath a colony of fruit bats. And a magnificent 360-degree view of the Banda Islands, following a challenging half day trek to the top.4. Banda Api & Hatta island snorkelling
The Banda Islands have some of Indonesia’s best kept secret snorkelling spots. Banda Api’s lava flows run deep underwater, producing glorious coral gardens to snorkel over; home to enormous groupers, Napoleon wrasse and reef sharks.
Hatta Island is known for its crisp, white sands and crystalline waters brim-full of sea life - ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. Goa Hatta dive site in the north, has a sink-hole at the reef entrance that forms a stupendous archway to this aquatic paradise. The drop-off at Hatta Island beach is a great place to go snorkelling as well. You can swim with sea turtles and schools of colourful reef fish.5. Diving around Ai, Run and Banana islands
There are more than 30 dive sites dotted around the Banda Islands, most of which can only be accessed by liveaboard diving. Run Island is the smallest island in Banda but is full of life. Enjoy superb diving with huge pilot whales, contrasting with tiny pygmy seahorses, the size of a stamp. The diversity of marine life rivals popular Raja Ampat, including spinner dolphins, melonhead, blue and humpback whales - and far less tourists!
Ai Island has one of the finest wild pearls on the planet, highly valued by collectors. Today, Ai’s greatest attraction is scuba-diving, where pristine coral drop-offs lie just off the beach. In October, groups of Napoleon fish appear, along with migrating dolphins and whales.
Pulau Pisang is locally known as “Banana Island.” A 20 minute boat ride from Banda Neira, it is encircled by healthy, species-rich coral reefs; home to an impressive number of vibrant fish as one of Banda’s top spawning grounds. Batu Kapal is a rock jutting out of the water north of Pulau Pisang. A valley has formed there, going down more than 50 metres. Visibility often goes right down to the bottom, making it a sensational place to spot large fish.6. Fort Belgica in Banda Neira
Banda Neira is the only city in the Bandas. It’s a beautiful town to take a leisurely stroll and explore the magnificent UNESCO-nominated site, Fort Belgica. This star-fort built in 1611, has survived plenty of earthquakes. Perched atop the hill overlooking Banda Neira Bay, ancient canons poke out as a reminder of times when Banda's production of one of the world’s most sought-after commodities (nutmeg) was considered worth fighting for.7. Sun Tien Kong temple in Banda Neira
This 300 years old temple is a relic from when the Chinese were involved in Banda’s spice trade. An intricate piece of art, it is a must-see for history enthusiasts.8. Rumah Budaya museum
This cultural museum includes centuries-old items; relics from the Dutch period of colonial rule such as coins, pots, baskets and a functioning gramophone.9. Pulau Neilaka
Located just off Pulau Run, this little islet is a scenic place to chill out, strolling along the turquoise water’s edge. Snorkel, laze about in the sea and walk the soft, white sands while waiting for sunset - a perfect end to your week-long liveaboard yacht holiday.
March to April and September to November are the best months to visit these pristine islands by taking a liveaboard yacht holiday.