Banda Sea - Ring of fire

SELECT OTHER DESTINATION

Best conditions are during intermoonson, late September to mid December. Any other months (except may) have risk of waves and potentially stormy weather 

Ours cruises will bring you across the Banda sea & the ring of fire,  steeped in history and blessed with some of the finest diving in the country, with an immense variety and volumes of both large and small species. traveling for about 550 nautical miles. We visit many different islands and a great variety of dive sites.

The very clear and nutrient rich upwelling waters brings in pelagics: sun fish (mola-mola), dogtooth tunas, reef sharks and sometime hammerhead sharks, sailfishes. Whales also frequently pass through the strait. Walls, drop offs, boomies and pinnacles so colorful and so healthy! –one dive site has a bottom literally covered with anemones- ; In Alor critters can be encountered in colorful reef environment and in the black sand bays of Kalabahi and Biang. 

Then the cruise will cross the all banda sea up to Banda Neira, down to Babar before reaching the large Tanimbar island.

Diving:

Main points: Banda Sea is characterised by a generally very good visibility. Warm waters. Some exceptional dive sites as “Too Many fish” in Koon, a great wall with incredible fish life, Manuk  with so many sea snakes, Walls on the islands around Banda Neira.


Hammerhead sharks - sometimes in big schools - are often spotted in Banda Sea and in the Ring of Fire during this period of time (September to December).

Visibility: Generally excellent

Water temperature: About 27-28

Currents: all other dive sites have easy currents.

Land & Culture

Banda Neira and surrounding islands have an important history due to the key role they played in the spice trade during the 16th and 17th century. Expeditions, wars, and massacres took place on theses islands. Historical remains as fortifications and Dutch colonial houses are still visible, and thus, beside the beauty nature of these islands, are a great highlight if the cruise. A visit of the fort and museum is included in all our Banda trips.

 

  • Banda islands
  • Reef in Banda Sea
  • Pink gorgonian, central Komodo
  • Small yellow frog

Dive Information

DIVE ORGANISATION ON MV AMBAI

On a 16 dives basis, we split on 4 groups of 4 divers each. Having 4 dive guides on board, each group goes with his own dive guide and dinghy. The cruise director sometime acts as a dive guide or just goes underwater to check how is everthing. Dive time is 60 mns. 

VISIBILITY

The visibility is generally good to excellent in these areas, except in Ambon bay and in other bays for critter dives. 

SEA WATER TEMPERATURE

Average 28°C, the temperatre can drop to 22°C in the southern par of Alor Strait. This will concern maximum 2 dives of diving.

CURRENTS

Low to moderate on most of the sites, it can be stronger in Alor. We try to avoid to dive in strong currents, however it can be the case if it brings a lot of fishes on the spot, or of the dive configuration makes it  unavoidable.

Travel Information

Wallacea Dive cruise can arrange your internal flights and transit hotels, we will give you the updated rates of the flights on request.  Based in Jakarta, Wallacea Dive Cruise is available 24/24 to help you to solve any problem you could have when you are in Indonesia.  
 

Climate Information

The Banda Sea and the Ceram Sea (Misool) are subject to consistent winds, waves and swell during the monsoon periods, especially during the South East monsoon from May to October. That's why we organize this itinerary during November and April that are an inter monsoonperiods with quiet seas. However, some temporary storms can arise, with waves developing for a few hours only.

Area Information

The fabled Spice Islands lie in the modern day province of Maluku in eastern Indonesia. The Banda Islands are 200 km from the nearest port town of Ambon, and are made up of 9 islands - Run and Ai to the west, Manukang to the northwest, Pisang to the east, Hatta and Sekaru to the southeast, Banda Besar to the south, and the main central island of Banda Neira and its close neighbour, the volcano island of Gunung Api - together with 2 rock islets - Batu Kapal to the east northeast and Keraka at the Banda Neira strait entrance.

They have attracted regional and international traders for more than 3,000 years. Prior to 1500, no European had ever landed on the shores of Maluku, but there had always been Asian traders. The biggest and most valuable commodities were nutmeg and cloves.

The Colonial Powers

After the first Portuguese and European vessel arrived in Maluku in April 1512, the balance of power that had remained quite stable and little changed over the centuries, changed abruptly. The building of a series of forts set a new precedent in Maluku. The forts were built to ensure security as an Asian trading centre and to protect goods and people so they would not be arbitrarily seized by a local ruler. This pioneer idea later evolved into the modern concept of foreign naval bases.

The Portuguese power in the islands faded with their empire. The Dutch had a confrontation with them in Ambon, and expelled them. That was the end of their presence in the Banda Islands at that time.

The huge impact that these tiny and remote islands had on the European continent at that time was immense. Thus Henry the Navigator, Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan began their fates with destiny. They spread the word of god and enthusiastically secured as much spices as their boats would hold. Although the work was treacherous, a sack full of nutmeg from Banda would put a common sailor into an early retirement if he made it back to Europe alive with the legendary spices to hand.

In 1579 the Englishman Francis Drake arrived in Ternate, at nearby Halmahera, aboard the Golden Hind, taking several tons of cloves with him; and in 1603 James Lancaster arrives and raises English flag on the Banda Island of Run.

In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was formed with a base on Banda Neira Island, and in 1609 the Dutch arrive in force, thus bringing the ensuing conflict with the English into sharp focus.

In 1667 the Treaty of Breda was finally signed, bringing an end to the Dutch - English hostilities. It transpired to be a hugely significant moment in history, as the agreement was based around a property swap of the then English Run Island with the then Dutch New Amsterdam - Manhattan, New Jersey and Delaware Estuary, in modern day New York.

By 1770 the writing was on the wall for the Dutch monopoly in the Moluccas. The French arrived and secured a supply of nutmeg and cloves on Gebe Island, and in 1810 the English were at it again as Captain Christopher Cole seized Fort Belgica on Banda Neira.

1854 saw the arrival of the famous British natural historian Sir Alfred Wallace, who spent 8 years in the area and collected "125,660 specimens of natural history", mostly in Maluku.

Nutmeg and Mace, the island spices.

In the absence of a tourist economy, fishing and nutmeg are the only 2 industries that the Bandas have. Nutmeg is a large evergreen tree, native to the Moluccas - the Spice Islands - and now cultivated in the West Indies. The fruit produces 2 spices, mace and nutmeg. Nutmeg is the seed kernel inside the fruit and mace is the lacy aril covering on the kernel.

Mace is the spice that originally made this commodity so precious as it was used as a meat preservative, but also critically it was thought to be a cure for the bubonic plague which was so fatal at that time. Nutmeg is usually used in sweets and spicy dishes, but also combines well with cheeses and sauces, and is used to flavour sausages, and lamb dishes. It has medicinal properties too, such as aiding digestion, treating diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea, improving appetite and reducing flatulence.

The tree grows from 12 - 20 metres tall, has dense foliage with dark green, 10 cm long, oval leaves, and a dark green-grey bark which produces a yellow juice which oxidizes to red. It has small, yellow bell-shaped flowers. A single mature tree produces up to 2,000 nutmegs per year. Nutmeg has no particular season; the fruit ripens all year round, so its harvest supplies the Banda islanders with a steady income.