Difference between revisions of "Banda Islands"
Revision as of 15:53, 12 January 2010
Once known as the Spice Islands, an epithet also applies to the entire Maluku area, the Bandas were famous as a source of spices, especially nutmeg. First colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch soon wrested control of the islands and fought the Spice Wars with the British. In the Treaty of Breda in 1667, the British agreed to withdraw and gave up Pulau Run to the Dutch, partly in exchange for one small island on the other side of the world: New Amsterdam, now better known as Manhattan.
The Bandas are really off the beaten track. Most roads lead through Ambon, from where you can attempt to catch the exclusive perhaps-once-weekly flight with Merpati (Saturday, IDR 125.000 one way). Flights oftenly get canceled due to bad weather and engine problems, so keep reconfirming! Please note that you cannot book a round trip from Ambon. You will need to book the return flight in Bandaneira! Occasionally Merpati serves Bandaneira from Amahai on Pulau Seram. Check upon arrival in Ambon!
An alternative is the rather more regular but still unpredictable twice-weekly Pelni ferry (KM Ciremai) to Bandaneira. Every other week a 150 passenger boat (KM Gravilla) is leaving for Banda (IDR 155.000, around 15hrs). Check at the small harbour in Ambon!
Getting around on Bandaneira is either by foot, ojek or becak. The furthermost village in the north is a 45 minute walk. However most places of interest to tourists (airport, harbour, market, colonial houses, Pelni office) are within walking distance or located in the town of Bandaneira.
Access to other islands is provided by boat. Regular connections go to Pulau Banda Besar and Pulau Ai, the latter usually leaving during morning hours. Other islands can be reached for day-trips by chartered boats (Pulau Hatta IDR500.000/day; Pulau Pisang + Batu Kapal IDR350.000/day; Half-Day tour to the Lava Stream north of Gunung Api IDR120.000). For mountain hikes up to Gunung Api local fishermen are more than happy to carry you across for IDR 10.000 each way.
There are no bars or restaurants serving alcoholic drinks in Bandaneira. However some guesthouses have chilled beer (IDR 30.000 per big bottle Bintang).