"Banda Islands - Snorkelling Paradise" Bandanaira by Daihappydai

Bandanaira Travel Guide: 37 reviews and 126 photos


The Banda Islands may be difficult to get to but if snorkelling is your thing, it is well worth the effort. There are an abundance of great snorkelling locations, all slightly different from each other, and all within reach of Bandaneira for half day or full day trips. Coral is in good condition and there is an abundance of fish with the possibility of seeing reef sharks, rays, turtles and much more. I was amazed at the profusion of coral on the lava flows of Gunung Api which erupted in 1988. Snorkelling trips are easy to organise, and I was very impressed with the care taken by the boat drivers - explaining currents, ensuring all snorkellers were in sight etc.

History - the Dutch impact

The Dutch and the British fought for control of the Banda Islands as they sought out a monopoly on nutmeg production. The Dutch were victorious and their impact on the islands can still be seen today with large forts and many Dutch colonial buildings still standing. While the Dutch committed grave atrocities upon the local population, with huge numbers killed or exiled to the Kei Islands, it is the more recent short-lived occupation by the Japanese that the islanders feel most negative about.

Spices and Kenari

Once upon a time the Banda Islands were the world's major source of nutmeg, with other spices such as cloves and cinnamon also grown. Today, there are still plantations growing nutmeg and kenari - a tree that protects the nutmeg trees and produces an almond-like nut. You can buy 'pala' (nutmeg) jam - and you'll almost certainly have it for breakfast - along with 'halua kenari', an almond brittle, in several shops in Bandaneira. It is well worth taking a trip to a nutmeg plantation with a guide- see my tip - to learn a little more about the history of the islands.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Friendly people, cheap accommodation, amazing snorkelling
  • Cons:Transport to the islands can be difficult but....
  • In a nutshell:Well worth the effort, some of the best snorkelling ever
  • Last visit to Bandanaira: Jan 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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