BANDA SEA | ROF
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Explore the best of the Banda Sea


Where to dive with hammerhead sharks

If people probably heard about the Galapagos Islands, Malpeo or Layang Layang for their shoals of Great hammerhead sharks, the Banda Sea and its Ring of Fire is becoming extremely popular too for diving with hammerhead sharks and other pelagic. On the top 5 areas to encounter Squat-headed and Scalloped Hammerheads, our cruises will take you to remote spots for an unforgettable diving experience.

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Whales also frequently pass through the strait. Walls, drop-offs, boomies, and pinnacles so colorful and so healthy! 

Main points: the Banda Sea is characterized 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, Nil Desperendum and its Hammerhead sharks and many more that we prefer to keep secret. Walls on the islands around Banda Neira.

Banda islands liveaboard season

  • First, this pristine diving destination is only reachable with Liveaboards.
  • Second, like most of the Asian countries, Indonesian is subject to the monsoons. Southeast monsoon and upwelling primarily on the eastern side make the Banda Sea practicable with safety during the Inter monsoons only. This is the reason why most of the liveaboards do the crossing in April/May (Raja Ampat - Banda Sea) & September/November (Banda Sea - Raja Ampat).

The Banda Sea liveaboard experience

Banda Sea liveaboard on our boats brings you across 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. We visit many different islands and a great variety of dive sites. To make the experience unique, our itineraries mostly combine the Banda Sea with another great destination - Raja Ampat - Alor - Triton Bay - Ambon - to always offer a precious mix of wide-angle and macro subjects. The Banda Sea is, even more, a synonym for biodiversity.

The very clear and nutrient-rich upwelling waters bring in hammerhead sharks schooling and pelagic such as sunfish (mola-mola), dogtooth tuna, reef shark and sailfish. 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.

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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 center and to protect goods and people so they would not be arbitrarily seized by a local ruler. This pioneering 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 flavor sausages, and lamb dishes. It has medicinal properties too, such as aiding digestion, treating diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea, improving appetite and reducing flatulence.

The tree grows from 12 - 20 meters 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.

On a 16 dives basis, we split into 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 sometimes acts as a dive guide or just goes underwater to check how is everything. Dive time is 60 mins.

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.  

Please contact us for any further information, whether you would like us to provide you more information on flight schedules or transit Hotels, or to buy your domestic flight tickets.

Banda Sea wildlife Calendar 
Credit: divereport.com
WATER TEMPERATURE

The sea water temperature is averaging around 28°C throughout the year.

 VISIBILITY

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

 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.

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 draw different itineraries where seas are quiet during at this inter-monsoon period.

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