Embarking on a Banda Neira trip may not be the first thing most people think about when planning their next travel. Unless of course, you’re one of those avid divers who even had planned Banda sea liveaboard – which would no doubt be one of the most memorable experiences. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a diver, or simply the average nature lover and history junkie, Banda is a piece of jewel well-hidden in the largest archipelagic country in the world; Indonesia.
Banda Neira trip to the forgotten spice island
The Moluccas is known as Maluku in Bahasa Indonesia. Banda island consisted of 10 island that made up a stunning archipelago that used to be the center of spice trade in the world. The archipelago has a bloody history as the Dutch and the Brits fought dominance over the area. As nutmeg are grown in other areas in the world, the popularity of Banda receded. Today Banda is one of the remote areas of Indonesia that housed spectacular nature and phenomenal diving experience.
Banda diving sites: one of the best in the world
Indonesia is known for its incredible diving scene. A big part of the ocean is made of the famed Coral Triangle where over 70% of marine species occur in less than 3% area. The nutrient-rich water of Indonesian seas make coral life flourishes and fish life abundance. While you’ve probably heard of Komodo and Raja Ampat as one of the best diving destinations in the country, as Banda Neira diving is definitely not one to be missed.
One of the most notable diving sites in Banda is Gunung Api, which literally translates to Fire Mountain in Bahasa Indonesia. It’s an active volcano in the small island of Banda, located at the centre of the archipelago. It’s also known by the name Banda Api. It’s no surprise that going on a Banda Neira trip is among experienced diver’s top bucket list, for this diving site alone is worth the trip to the remote archipelago. The eruption of the lava back in 1988 formed a staggering growth of coral life in the area. The rate of the growth is phenomenal. And thanks to the flourishing coral life, it encourages fish life to flourish. Banda sea diving makes it among the top 3 diving spots in Indonesia with a good reason.
A piece of history: Banda’s Fort Belgica
Known by the locals as Benteng Hollandia or Benteng Belgica, this colonial fort used to be one of the most important fort in the world when Banda is the only island that produces nutmegs. The fort itself overall seemed to be in a good condition; well-maintained. The same could be said about the gardens around it. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites that tells bloody history of the spice trade. It’s definitely worth a visit to Banda.
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The view atop the fort is spectacular. Turquoise waters stretch with a full view of the famed Gunung Api, Fire Mountain. During the time of this writing, there’s no such a thing as a ticket counter in the fort. Despite being a UNESCO site and regularly gets visits from guests of Banda sea liveaboard and domestic guests alike, the fort has yet to be officially commercialized. If you don’t come with a group tour that has a fixed itinerary to go to the fort, you’re going to have to ask around to locals and ask for the key.