Ambon, the provincial capital of Maluku, is built on a hillside overlooking the bay. It has a number of interesting historical and cultural sites among the remnants of forts built the the Dutch East Indies Company during the heyday of the spice trade. The ruins of the Portuguese fort at Hila are almost entirely hidden beneath the contorted roots of a giant Banyan tree. The ANZAC War Cemetery near Ambon town is the site of services held every year on April 25 to commemorate the Allied soldiers who died in this region during World War II. The museum Siwa Lima has a fine collection of local arts and crafts. Ambon is at the Maluku end of the annual yacht race between Darwin, Australia and Ambon. The race usually takes place in July and August.
There are daily flights from Jakarta to Ambon, either direct or via Makassar or Surabaya. Garuda is the airline rated safest internationally.
Alternatively there are boats from various parts of Indonesia. Schedules change frequently, but any travel agent in Jakarta or a major Indonesian city can arrange this.
The airport is located in Laha, 45-minute driving from the city. DAMRI bus (costs IDR 35,000) connects the airport and the city with fixed schedule four times a day. City to Airport (04.30, 05.00, 10.00, 13.00) Airport to City (07.00, 08.00, 13.00, 16.00).
The bus leaves the city at the peace gong on Jl. Sam Ratulangi at the big electronic advertising sign.
Taxi costs IDR 200,000 for one trip from/to the airport.
Red Bemos run from outside the airport gates to Kota Ambon for less than 15,000Rp. Ask the driver if he goes the full way to the city center, as some of the Bemos stop half way to the city center and return.
Bemos (public transport minivans, locally called angkutan kota or angkot) with pre-determined routes take people around the town and even the island. There are no fixed stops. Just flag one down in the street. Look at the sign on top of the bus to make sure it's the route you want. Each costs IDR 3,000 for in-town route -- pay when you get out. Sitting up front is fine if it's empty and you'd rather not squish into the back. To stop where you want to get out, say "minggir".
Becaks (bicycle rickshaw) are good for shorter distances downtown.
There are many ojeks (passenger motorcycles) around the island.
Taxis are also available for hire and can be found mostly in major hotels. However taxis in Ambon look just like normal cars. They are usually Toyota Avanzas and Innovas.
A map of the city is available on the second floor of the bookstore Dian Pertiwi, at the corner of Jl. P. Diponegro and Jl. Said Perintah, by the tall white Trikora monument.
Snorkeling / Diving on Latuhalat or Liang beach. Just ask your hotel/inn how to get there.
Eat Nasi Kuning(Yellow Rice) in the morning, noon, and night time. It's an anyytime Ambonese meal. Be careful - it's spicy!
Various seafood, Batu cake (which translates "rock cake"; best to be had with tea or coffee).
Kohu-kohu is a delicious local specialty: green salad with tuna, shredded coconut and lime.
Ambon has been wracked by ethnic and religious violence since 1999. While tensions between the main Muslim and Christian factions have been slowly waning, there were still scuffles in spring 2004 and caution is advised. In 2007 there were minor bomb blasts in March and April.
Traveling by boat requires patience and a relaxed schedule. Delays and breakdowns are just part of the experience.
Current schedules can be had from the Pelni office near the Ambon City Park (look for the big statue of the guy with the Machete). The ticket office (loket) is easy to miss in the back of the big glassfront Pelni building.
P.T Mattras Abadi tour and travel, Jl. A.Y Patty (Halfway between the port and the shopping centre). sells tickets for all of the above and has (a few) english speaking staff. edit