Spice Island


Indonesia is famous for its idyllic and diverse cruising grounds. Possibly the best known are the signature destinations of the Komodo National Park and Raja Ampat, which offer visiting yachts some of the most scenic anchorages and exciting marine or topside adventures to be found anywhere on the planet. However, this enormous waterborne country hides many other equally fascinating but lesser known secrets, one being the remote and historically significant Banda Islands, located in the middle of their own vast sea, part of the Maluku Province.

The Banda Islands, the original Spice Islands, are unlike anywhere else in Indonesia. Rising up from the depths of the Banda Sea, this tiny island group form the summits of a massive marine mountain range which, in days gone by, were the epicentre of world trade. During the 17th Century nutmeg was thought to be a universal cure-all for everything from the bubonic plague to the common cold, and became a more expensive commodity than gold.The Banda Islands was the only region in the world where it was found to exist and the ensuing squabble, known as the Spice Wars, chiefly between the British and the Dutch, led to what was probably the worlds’ worst land deal, with the Brits swapping Run island, a small sandy islet on the west side of the Banda archipelago, for the Dutch territory of Manhattan, now central New York.

Today, while exploring Banda Neira, the main town of the island group, it is still possible for visitors to see remnants of this bygone European era adorning the streets. Colonial buildings, a quaint post office, a historical church and antiquated street lighting, all hinting at the depth of history to be found here. A dusty museum houses canons,swords, coins and gruesome artwork, along with a functioning gramophone and other unusual artefacts from days gone by. The impressive and imposing structure of Fort Belgica, sat atop Banda Neira’s largest hill, is a unique location to enjoy sunset drinks and reflect on the history that envelops the islands.

A picturesque sheltered anchorage in the large natural harbour next to the town lies in the shadow of the imposing 600-metre volcano island of Gunung Api. This smoking monster last erupted in May 1988 and the black lava scars of this explosion can still be seen cascading down it’s slopes and there are no shortage of guides willing to take guests up to the mountains rugged peak. Venturing outside from the metropolis of
Banda Neira to the untouched outer islands of Run, Ai and Hatta, visitors will discover dazzling deserted white sand beaches and kaleidoscopic coral reefs. These picture perfect paradises are edged by vertical drop-offs that plunge into the deep blue sea, perfect locations for relaxing or exploring with kayaks and paddleboards. These dazzling outposts are home to some of Indonesia’s best spearfishing too. The reefs of the Banda Islands teem with all kinds of marine life, large and small, and are among some of the most colourful in a country that is home to the planet’s most astonishing underwater seascapes. This is truly a marine explorers’ dream destination with spectacular diving and snorkelling sites at every turn.

With a view to encouraging clients to explore the lesser known areas of Indonesia, The Lighthouse Consultancy has been promoting Banda’s historical attractions, and more and more of their superyacht clients are
opting to visit this magical and mysterious destination. Located 120 nautical miles from the international port town of Ambon, a four or five-day journey through the Banda Sea is a great start or finish to a Raja Ampat exploration, or a shorter cruise in itself. However, the remote and exposed location means it important to have a reliable network in place, offering complete support for the trip time frame. Cruising logistics for the area are generally coordinated through Ambon, with international jet arrival options making the region remarkably accessible.

The Lighthouse Consultancy’s presence and unparalleled support systems in the Central Maluku area range from provisioning and experienced cruising guides to bunker supplies and airport logistics.

For more details Tel:+62 (0)81 338 732 764
or visit www.thelighthouseconsultancy.com