Far east in the Maluku Province of Indonesia, there is a magical archipelago called Banda Island that owns ten volcanic islands. One of those islands is Banda Neira. This island has a strong historical background. During the Dutch colonialism era in Indonesia, this island produced great spices such as nutmeg and mace. Thus, this island was also famous by the name Spice Island. The sea around Banda Neira is also astonishing with diverse marine life, which is a perfect spot for diving.
How to Get There
Banda Archipelago is most easily accessible from Ambon City, the capital of Maluku Province. To reach Ambon, you can take a flight to Pattimura Airport of Ambon Island. The airport serves domestic flight from Jakarta City, Surabaya, Makassar, Kupang, and other cities in Indonesia.
To continue your trip from Ambon to Banda Neira is a little bit difficult. The most practical option is by chartering a small plane to get you there instantly. Actually, there is a small flight by Merpati Airlines that serves flight from Ambon to Banda. But the schedule is very sporadic. Flights can be suddenly cancelled due to bad weather, engine errors, and other unpredictable situation. If you are lucky enough to get this flight, make sure to book your return ticket as well. You also need to reconfirm it for several times as the flight might be cancelled as well.
Other option to get you to Banda Neira from Ambon is by using the ferry. Crossing Banda Sea from Ambon to Banda Neira surely will take longer time than flying over it. It could take up to 7 hours. Besides that, you also need to confirm the schedule as the voyages are unpredictable as well. Crossing the sea can also be done by taking a cruise ship. There are several cruise companies that serves exclusive sail from Ambon to Banda.
Where to Stay
Being such a perfect tourism destination, Banda Neira surely has ranging choices of accommodation. Hotels and homestays are available with various rates. Some of those are:
- The Maulana Hotel
- Vita Guest House
- Location : Jalan Pasar, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 819 45090110.
- Location : Jalan Gereja Tua, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 910 21027
- Pondok Wisata Matahari
- Location : Jalan Pasar, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 910 21050
- Pondok Wisata Flamboyan
- Location : Jalan Syahrir, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 910 21233
- Podok Wisata Florida
- Location : Jalan Hatta, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 910 21086
- Location : Jalan Kujali, Banda Neira
- Phone : +62 910 21145
Besides hotels and homestays, you can also stay the night at the live aboard. This kind of cruise and tour is quite popular amongst tourists who come to Banda Archipelago. For more information and reservation, you can contact the company via website on:
From so many islands on Banda Archipelago, Banda Neira is the only one that has wide flat land which is suitable for a small town to live. This island is one out of three islands in the archipelago that are inhabited. It also has the largest population than other islands in Banda.
The island of Banda Neira is very fascinating as it has several rare wildlife and beautiful form of environment. The land consists of one volcano at one corner and one small town at the opposite corner. It is surrounded by crystal blue ocean where you can find exotic marine life underneath it.
Banda Neira has fertile soil. During the Portuguese colonialism era, the land was an active and major producer for several kinds of spices. Because Banda Neira was considered very beneficial, other powerful country, the Dutch, wanted to conquer it as well. Therefore, a huge war happened between those two countries.
In order to defend themselves, Portuguese built several forts in the island. The war was won by the Dutch. After that, the Dutch replaced Portuguese in colonializing Indonesia. The forts were damaged but were not destroyed. Even up until today, the remains of the forts are still standing. It became an interesting tourism object. It even is nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The biggest and the most beautiful fort was Fort Belgica. It stands at the top of a hill, overlooking to the bay of Banda Neira. The fort was broken in here and there, but the sturdiness still glows. Surrounding the fort is a beautiful garden with green grass covered the whole area. Coming inside the fort, you will see many cannons are scattered all across the land. Fort Nassau was also nice place to visit in Banda Neira. Other historical objects are Dutch Cemetery, Dutch Reformed Church, Mini Neira Palace, a jail, and a museum.
Banda Neira also has amazing underwater nature. The sea around the island has also been famous as spectacular arena for diving and snorkeling. Overall, there has been 22 spots are discovered for this kind of activity. Each spot has its own charm. Corals are everywhere, in any colors and shape. You can even find a huge fan coral at the sea wall.
Beneath the water surface, you can see large schools of fishes swimming around together in the sea. They could be surgeon fish, barracuda, bannerfish, jacks, and tuna. If you go to the deeper water, chances are you will see bigger and more exotic creatures such as sharks and several species of rays. Common large creatures to be seen are mobula rays and hammerhead sharks.
Nearby the island of Banda Neira, there is an island that entirely consists of volcano only. This famous volcanic island is called Banda Api. Banda Api is very delightful to see from the top of a hill in Banda Neira. Vice versa, you can also enjoy the whole scenery of Banda Neira from the top of Banda Api.
In 1988, Banda Api had a major explosion. Hot lava flowed throughout the island and even flow down to the sea. Almost every ecosystem was killed, including the marine one. But magically, as time went by, the nature recovered. The hot lava that once killed everything turned out to make the land way more fertile. At the end, when the nature grows back again, it became more various and more beautiful.
This phenomenon happened under the water as well. After the explosion, the marine life became more diverse than before. The corals and reefs are more various. Those support more sea animals to live at. According to observation, the development of Banda’s water in 20 years has exceeded the normal marine life development in 70 years.
Size does not really matter. That expression might be the best quotation to describe the island of Banda Neira. Although the island is just small, it has lots of amazing things to explore. From historical tourism to underwater adventure, Banda Neira is definitely a great destination to visit.
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