Banda islands holiday guide (2020)

Banda islands


Indonesia Banda islands Guide

Banda Islands were for centuries the most sought-after islands in the world, capturing the European imagination and inspiring Columbus to undertake his famous journey westward. The Myristica Trees, indigenous to the Banda Islands, are the source of two rare and lucrative spices: nutmeg and mace, once found exclusively on the Banda Islands. In the 15-16th centuries, the nutmeg was believed to be a cure for the bubonic plague, which spurred exploration and shaped colonial empires. European traders were selling it at a 6,000 percent markup, making it worth more than its weight in gold. Also known as the Spice Islands, The Bandas offer a true sense of historical excitement with Dutch colonial houses, crumbling forts, stunning tropical scenery, and some of the world’s most pristine and diverse coral reefs. Combined with raw natural beauty and a warm local heart, this remote cluster of eleven picturesque islands isn’t just Maluku’s choice travel destination; it’s one of the best in Indonesia.

Banda Islands are located in the heart of the Banda Sea in Indonesia. These tropical volcanic islands are part of a more significant Maluku archipelago that sits between West Papua and Sulawesi. In recent years, mainly due to development in local airports, Maluku archipelago started to attract international travelers, especially people who’re looking for renowned diving spots. Ambon is the closest airport offering a range of domestic flights to reach this exceptional destination. The Spice Islands is among the unique cruising grounds, too, a perfect itinerary for sailing and diving holiday connoisseurs.

There are 11 islands in the Banda archipelago, located well off the tourist trail in the south of Maluku, Indonesia. Their astonishing remoteness makes them a prime choice for liveaboard yacht holidays. Be a witness of towering, aromatic, tropical evergreens of these incredible islands that still retain an aura of mystery. A quiet colonial ambiance with the sapphire sea that is brimming with exquisite corals and abundant life makes the 11 Bandas an exceptional destination in Indonesia.

The best time to visit Banda Islands is in March-April and September-November. These months enjoy stable and sunny weather to allow for exceptional land explorations. While the Banda Sea enjoys calm waters, guaranteeing unforgettable diving and snorkeling adventures. 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 perfect recipe for outdoor explorers.

The only city in the Bandas is Bandanaira, and it has a devastating history. In 1602 fourteen ships sailed from Holland, heading to the East Indies. 4 years later, thirteen vessels arrived in Banda Neira with only one objective – to monopolize the world’s most valuable spices – mace and nutmeg. Devastation followed with the bloody massacre of the native Banda population. Fast forward centuries, Bandanaira today is a beautiful town to take a stroll and to explore the two remarkable forts – Belgica and Nassau. Walk the mysterious pathway that leads to colonial-era mansions, 17th-century cannons which sit abandoned by the roadside, an ancient Chinese temple, and a museum that occupies one of Banda’s oldest houses. The only and the best option to experience the whole of Bandas – is to take a sailing holiday across this enchanting archipelago. Nothing compares to soaking in the rich history of the Spice Islands while staying on a liveaboard.

  • Banda Islands is a remote paradise guarded by a romantic, cone-shaped volcano. With eleven pristine, palm-fringed islands, beautiful green jungle, white powder beaches, and enchanting nutmeg plantations – an ideal recipe for outdoor explorers
  • The nutrients of the Banda Sea provide a perfect habitat for spectacular coral reefs to bloom into some of the most acclaimed on Earth – ideal for underwater adventurers
  • Take a Spice Tour on Banda Besar, and learn about the fascinating history of spices that were once exclusive to Banda Islands
  • Visit fragrant nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon plantations on Run, Hatta, and Ai islands
  • Discover historical Dutch fortresses of the 15-16th century, including spectacular Fort Belgica, Nassau, and Hollandia
  • Hike 640 meters on top of Banda Api active volcano for a 360-degree view of the Banda Islands
  • Banda Api’s lava flows run deep underwater, producing glorious coral gardens to snorkel over; some of Indonesia’s best kept secret snorkeling spot
  • Shop for pearls on Ai Island, home to one of the finest wild pearls on the planet, highly valued by collectors
  • With over 40 world-class dive sites, the Bandas offers a sensational playground to spot large fish, including spinner dolphins, hammerhead sharks, melonhead, blue, pilot and humpback whales
  • So rich in history that has shaped Empires, there is no other tropical island destination on the planet that offers fragrance, pristine beaches, snorkeling, and diving, all at once!
  • The most convenient way to reach the Banda archipelago from Singapore is by flying directly to Jakarta or Manado in Indonesia and then booking a flight to Ambon. From Ambon, you will have several options. First is a domestic flight to Bandanaira. The second, more luxurious option, is to charter a crewed yacht with Islander and to explore this jaw-dropping destination on a personalized itinerary, one Banda island after another.

    The only way to get to Banda Islands from Bali is by booking a flight to Ambon via Jakarta or Makassar. From Ambon, you can then catch another flight to Bandanaira. Alternatively, the slower option that allows you to explore every tiny island between from Ambon to Banda archipelago is booking a yacht holiday with Islander.

    Getting to the Banda Islands from Ambon is the most popular route. You can book a direct flight from Ambon to Bandanaira or charter a liveaboard with Islander to experience Banda Islands on a sailing holiday. Be sure to book your flights in advance and always check the updates since it’s not rare that trips are getting canceled in this part of Indonesia.

    Best places in Banda islands

    Banda Besar


    Banda Api


    Banda Neira


    Pulau Run