Known as the Spice Isles, in the 17th century the Banda Islands were once home to a booming and lucrative nutmeg trade. Now peppered with pastel coloured colonial houses and crumbling remains of huge Dutch Forts, these beautiful and remote islands are a far-flung, frontier-like paradise.
The ancient Indonesian tribal cultures that once populated the islands prior to Dutch colonisation are still there today. Due to the isolation of the islands each one has its own distinct culture and way of life. As part of a visit to the Banda Islands, you will have the option to explore Lembata Island where the age old ritual of whale hunting is exempt from the whaling ban and an integral part of the villagers’ lives.
Consisting of ten volcanic peaks in the Indonesian province of Maluku, the steep walls, deep drop offs and vast gardens of vibrant coral are a delight for divers in the surrounding water. Whales, dolphins and hammerhead sharks are frequently spotted here, relishing in the lack of diving traffic, whilst the cooler waters by Alor Island are swarming with schools of tuna, barracuda and grouper. Snorkelers will also enjoy the shallower and calmer water with regular sightings of colourful mandarin fish and banded sweetlips.
When to go
The best time to visit the Banda Islands is either between September and October or March and April.
What to do
- Trek to the summit of the Kelimutu Volcano for panoramic views across the three crater lakes and the surrounding archipelago view the Frigate Bird at Gunung Api peak, kayak around the limestone karsts or along pristine coastline and try your hand at wakeboarding and water-skiing on the virtually deserted waters.