If you have an interest in the world’s history, then you might have heard about the Banda Islands. This tiny archipelago caused countries to wage wars 3000 years ago. From the first discovery of its precious spice of nutmeg, many tried to raise flags and claim as the place’s ruler to monopolize the spice’s trade.
Administratively, the islands are located in Central Maluku Regency, in Maluku Province. If you only notice Java in Indonesian maps, then the islands are located around 2000 km northeast of Java Island.
Why Visit Banda Islands?
So, why do you have to travel far and visit the remote Banda Islands? Although colonialism is far gone, the place still has its charms. Here are why you have to spare some of your precious time to visit the islands:
1. Witness the Pristine Coral Reef in a Remote Place
For sure, Indonesia is blessed with its coral and marine ecosystem, including the Banda Sea. In this area, you will witness the beautiful and well-kept coral reef. Not to mention, since the location is in a remote place, the reef is in pristine condition.
If you do not wish to dive deep, then simple snorkeling will do. But if you are willing to gear up, the schools of fish are ready to welcome your visit. Also, if you are lucky, get acquainted with dolphins.
2. Learn the History
As you know, centuries ago, the island was the only place that produced nutmeg in the world. At that time, nutmeg was a precious spice in high demand. Thus, this was what brought the Netherlands to the islands and other European countries to raise their arms and wage wars.
In the colonial era, Banda was under the Netherlands. To facilitate their plan, they built Fort Belgica in 1611, which later became a UNESCO nominated site. Then, there’s also a palace called Istana Mini that they built three centuries after the fort.
3. Get Close with the Locals
Compared to Bali or any other more famous tourist destination in Indonesia, Banda has lesser tourist attractions. But do not be afraid when you walk around and the locals grab and ask you to dance with them to Dangdut, the local’s music genre.
Then, you can also interact with locals through transactions in the local traditional market. But I do not wish to find any big apparel or store chain on the islands. If you wish for more variety of choices, then your closest option is to head to Ambon.
How to Get There and Budget to Prepare
To get to Banda, the easiest way is to come through Ambon’s Pattimura Airport from any other major cities in the country that are available by domestic flight. Then, you have to head to Bandaneira Airport for around 300 thousand rupiahs. But the flight is often canceled because of bad weather.
Another option, you can take a ferry ride and cross the Banda Sea for 415 thousand rupiahs. The problem is that this will take way longer than flying. Because you need at least 7 hours to cross the sea from Ambon.
Aside from the transportation alone, the accommodation on the islands is relatively cheap. The price starts from 250 thousand rupiahs per night. Then, to visit several tourist attractions in the islands, there might be an entrance fee that you have to pay.
Aside from causing wars, Banda Islands also used to be an exile place. Thus, you will see many ethnic groups in the islands with various local languages. But most of them use Malay and around 95% of the population are Muslim. Thus, make sure to dress appropriately when visiting.