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SPICE ISLANDS

Spectacular Yachting Destination in Indonesia

The Spice islands are officially known as the Maluku Islands. They were known for being the largest producers of nutmeg, mace and peper. This small group of islands lie between Celebes and New Guinea. The Spice Islands include Halmahera, Buru, Ambon, Ternate, Seram, Tidore and Kai Islands. The (Spice) Islands have a total area of 850,000 km² of which 90% is ocean.

The Banda Sea is part of the Coral Triangle. Named after the greatest coral reef diversities worldwide. Most of these islands are part of the Wallacea region and are well known for their highly diverse flora and fauna. The Banda Sea region counts hundreds of endemic species.

The Spice Islands are an “off the beaten track” adventure for real explorers and pioneers. A perfect combination of nature, history and diving. The remoteness of the islands take us back in time and tell us the stories of 500 hundreds years ago. Yacht Charter Indonesia prides itself on offering itineraries to the Spice Islands.

Diving in Spice Islands

History of the Spice Islands 

Our story begins long before the European vessels arrived in the Indian Ocean in 1498. For centuries there was a thriving trade in spices in the far east. The spices were traded with Chinese silk, Indian cotton, Arabic coffee and African ivory. In the middle ages the spices were also available in Europe but the prices were very high because they were shipped overland and every trader made profit on it, once arrived in Venice, the chief point between Europe and the East they were worth 1000% more then the price paid on the spice islands. The Europeans began buying from the spice islands directly in the 1520s.The Portuguese where the first and controlled the trade, they demanded very high prices. 

Then the English made their first spice voyage in 1598 but two out of three ships where lost, but still this voyage made an enormous profit. In 1599 the Dutch arrived and competed with the Portuguese. They conquered Ambon and Tidore when the Dutch East India Company allied with the sultan of Ternate and in 1605 expelling the Portuguese. The Dutch ruled the trade in spices through a ruthless policy including the conquest of the Banda Islands in 1621 and they eliminated the English in Ambon. During the French revolutionary was and the Napoleonic wars, the British forces captured the islands in 1796 and kept them until 1817. In that time they started uprooting the spice trees and transplanted them throughout the British empire. 

Our Favorite Yachts for Spice Islands

Fort Belgica

This 17th century fort is situated in Banda Neira. It is the largest fort on the islands and is very well preserved. The fort was build in 1611 by Pieter Both, he was the first Governor of the Dutch East Indies. The fort was build on top of a hill and overlooks the fort Nassau and had a modest square construction. Later in 1662, Jan Peiterszoon Coen renovated the original fort and was made to accommodate 40 men. During the mid 17th century the tropical monsoonal climate, earthquakes and a poor construction resulted in dilapidation of the fort. In 1667, the fort was redesigned and reconstructed by Governor Cornelis Speelman. The stones to built the new fort Belgica were shipped to the island. The new design consisted of a pentagonal structure with five angled corner bastions with five tall circular towers. In January 2015, Fort Belgica was added to the Unesco World heritage list of the historic and marine Landscape of the Banda Islands.

Fort Duurstede in Saparua

Located on the island Saparua we find Fort Duurstede. This fort was originally built to protect the village of Saparua, it is built on a cliff overlooking the bay. The fort is fully restored and you can find a collection of military equipment. The island of Saparua was very important for the spice trade. In May 1817 the fort was attacked by rebels led by Pattimura, an Ambonese christian who served in the British army. All inhabitants of the fort were killed in the attack except for the young son of resident Jan Rudolf. Eventually the rebellion was broken and Pattimura was captured and hanged in Fort Duurstede in December that year. After the Indonesian independency Pattimura was declared a national hero by the people. Fort Duurstede has an important role in the Indonesian history because of these events.

Pulau Ai with Fort Revenge

On the island Pulau Ai we still find active nutmeg plantations and old colonial plantation mansions. One of these mansions is still inhabited by descendants of the original Dutch Perkeneer family. On Pulau Ai we find Fort revenge, a large ruined pentagonal fort that was built in 1616 with the aim to restrain the rebellious islanders. The remains have never had any restoration work but large sections are still intact. Pulau ai is also very popular for diving and snorkelling. Pristine coral drop-offs lie just off the white sandy beach. Also the island holds one of the finest wild pearls on the planet. 

Ambon

The Capital city and largest city of the province Maluku. Ambon city is an most important junction and has an important role for the east Indonesian province. On the opposite of the bay of Ambon lies the Pattimura airport from which domestic flights to other bigger islands go such as Bali, Makassar and Java. There is also a big harbour were pelhni’s from other islands enter the city’s. It is Ambon where most boat charters start their trips around the Spice Islands.

The Story of Martha Christina Tiahahu

An interesting feature in Ambon is the 8 metre statue of Martha Christina Tiahahu. This young freedom fighter played an important role in the Moluccan history. Her mother died when she was just a little girl and therefore raised by her father, a military captain. She followed her father wherever he went and joined the guerrilla war against the Dutch at age 17. Martha and her troops are accredited with burning down the Duurstede fortress and killing Dutch commander Richement.
In October 1817 Martha and her father were captured but Martha was released because of her age. She kept fighting which led to another captivity and sent to Java. On her way to Java she refused to eat and died on a ship in the Banda Sea. Martha was declared a National Heroine: the day of her death, the 2nd of January, is designated Martha Christina Tiahahu day.

Pulau Run

This island is surrounded by beautiful dive sites. Around these naturally vibrant and intact Coral reefs many flora and fish species of different kinds and colours can be found. Princess reef is covered with hundreds of different species of sponges and give home to the rare pygmy sea horse. Huge pilot whales were often spotted around Pulau run.

Pulau Pisang

Close to banda neiro lies an island named Pulau Pisang. Pulau Pisang is known for its impressive number of vibrant fish. One of the most popular dive sites of this area is Batu Kapal. Deeply buried rocks lead us to a underwater valley going 50 meters down. The visibility is so clear that it even goes down to the bottom. This place is specifically to spot the large fish such as sharks.

Hammerhead sharks

During the live aboard and boat charters the Hammerhead sharks are the highlight of diving. The Banda Sea is known for being a migration path for big schools of hammerhead sharks. Especially in October they pass this point. The Banda sea reefs Nila and Serua are famous for their beautiful reefs and the presence of the hammerhead shark. Read more about this extraordinary creature in our blog: the ultimate shark experience!

Moluccas Travel Information

The best time of year to travel the Spice Islands is from October through March, the sea conditions are best during this time. During this period Ambon & the Spice islands receives little rainfall. The temperature is around 29-31°C and at night it can drop to 21-24 degrees. The water temperature varies from 26-28°C and the water visibility is 20-30 metres.On every yacht sailing the spice islands you will find PADI certified and experienced dive guides and teachers. The guides and teachers will guide you trough the dive sites and will be in control of your safety. They will show you all the highlights and they know where to find the hidden treasures of diving. Luxury charters in Spice Islands will give you the opportunity to handpick your own activity schedule and offer you a custom made itinerary that just fits your interest. Get ready for a dream holiday experience with Yacht Charter Indonesia.

Please contact us for any questions about sailing the Spice Islands.

Water Temperature
Avg. 27°C to 30°C.
Weather Conditions
Climate depends on monsoon winds. Refreshing breezes onboard.
Sea Conditions
Generally calm. Can be choppy while crossing open sea.

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