Pulau Run – or the Run island as it has come to be known conventionally – is the smallest island of the Banda Archipelago, and with a fascinating history. Of course, Run Island might still be revered for being one of the best places in the world to go diving, but that is far from what it gained its former glory for.
Believe it or not, but Run Island was traded to the British in the 17th century for another island – a place we know today as Manhatten! Being one of the Bandas means that the Run island was also home to vast expanses of land dedicated to the cultivation of nutmeg in the past. Although these are still there, they don’t hold the kind of value that they used to command when the Dutch maintained a monopoly over the nutmeg trade in the area. Colonial masters were making so much on their trades that Run Island could have been well likened to an Eldorado of riches at that time.
With an old Dutch nutmeg plantation actually called El Dorado and some fragrant clove plantations, Run Island was indeed a magical place. So much is the historical importance of this site that it was eventually exchanged as part of a swap deal that saw the other party leave with what we know to be Manhatten today. In retrospect, though, it seems that the small Run Island had done well for itself when the focus was taken away from it for just being a nutmeg-producing area.
Run Island today
Today, Pulau Run is more than just that to people coming to Indonesia. For one, the small island has one of the richest histories in the world behind it. However, it is also impressive to note that the island has captured its personal touch back. Even though Run Island has parts of its history marred by the presence of outsiders, there is not much left of the time of the Dutch and other colonials on the island today. When you visit now, you will get the natural sense and feel of the Indonesian people who have made it their home again, living a humble life and being content with what the nature around them gives to them too. Run Island is full of life, with women drying cloves and nutmeg under the sun around every corner.
Diving Run Island
You don’t have to be a dweller to enjoy nature at its fullest here. That is obvious in the array of diving sites in and around Pulau Run. The inviting environment of these diving sites is helped by a naturally vibrant and intact coral reef that supports flora and fish species of different kinds and colors. Divers have also expressed joy at the crystal-clear waters and the welcoming tides, which just makes Run Island a natural hub for diving and snorkeling activities. Around Run Island, you can also enjoy world-class diving with huge pilot whales, contrasting with tiny pygmy seahorses, the size of a stamp.
Forts and Villages
When not around the waters, there are other things worthy of sighting in and around Run Island. One of these is the famous Run village, highlighting the Indonesian rural essence in the true sense of the word. Don’t expect to find any relics or colonial dwellers relics here, but the fairly well built yet traditional houses provide for excellent sightseeing. Thankfully, the streets that will take you to these houses are also interesting to navigate. On the outside, you can visit Fort Swan and Fort Defense, enjoy superb diving and snorkeling, and explore nearby Nailaka Island.
One of the biggest attractions to visitors is the islet of Pulau Nailaka, which features some exceptional snorkeling right at the edge. You can stroll the soft White Sands while waiting for the magnificent sunset on Nailaka Island, as well as satisfy your cravings for some relics by seeing where the old English fort was allegedly sited. For those booking a boat tour to Run Island, luck also has it that this location is closer to Banda Neira, which is yet another fascinating location to hop on if you are already on the Banda islands.