Scuba Diving Maluku

Maluku has some of Indonesia’s richest coral reefs and critter diving without crowds.




Scattered between Sulawesi, Timor and Papua, and long known in the West as the “Spice Islands”, whose once unique cloves and nutmeg drew visitors from all over the world for centuries, Maluku is made up by over a thousand beautiful tropical islands with lush vegetation and unique fauna, stunning beaches and marine life, and very friendly, hospitable people. Overshadowed by more famous and accessible Indonesian islands like Bali, Java or Sumatra, remote Maluku receives very few visitors nowadays.

Maluku today is divided into 2 provinces. “North Maluku” province with its majority Muslim population and its capital Ternate stretches from Halmahera and Morotai to the Sulas and Obi. Confusingly named, majority Christian “Maluku” province encompasses the central and southern regions of Maluku from Buru and Seram to the Arus and Wetar, with its capital being Ambon. Both provinces are equally beautiful and share similar history, culture and attractions.

Maluku is a birdwatcher’s dream, with some 80 endemic species. The highest number is found in Halmahera (24) and Seram (21), but Buru (10), the Sulas (8), the Tanimbars (8), the Keis (4), Wetar (3), Damer (1) and Obi (1) all have unique, endemic species, and trying to see all of them would in fact make for a very comprehensive, off the beaten track tour of Maluku!


Maluku has some of Indonesia’s richest coral reefs. While facilities for diving were mostly limited to the Ambon Islands and Banda Islands. Many live aboards has itinerary through out the Banda Sea.

Interesting history of Ambon and Banda – For in search of the Spice Islands in the Far East, Christopher Columbus sailed west – and discovered America.
Vasco da Gama sailed south and discovered the long route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope in 1498 to finally reach India after a long and perilous voyage.
Only later did the Portuguese finally discover the sea route to Banda and Ambon. These small islands in the eastern deep seas of the Indonesian archipelago were for centuries the sole producers of the fragrant nutmeg and mace in the world. At the time these spices fetched their weight in gold in Medieval Europe.


Ambon Islandsflogfish – was part of the Spice Island group but ended up being more of a port for seafarers. Ambon Bay, where the muck diving is, has an incredible array of rare critters, including Ambon Scorpionfish, Rhinopias, Mimic and Wonderpus Octopus, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, many many Nudibranchs, Frogfish, Harlequin Shrimp, Coleman Shrimp and much much more. Lesser known is the south side of Ambon and Haruku is largely virgin diving with deep walls, incredibly healthy corals, swim-thrus and caves, swim through, exceptionally healthy reef life, with large fish and more small critters.



Banda IslandsBanda island – Lying about 132 kilometers southeast of Ambon, once known as the Spice Islands, an epithet also applies to the entire Maluku area, the Banda’s were famous as a source of spices, especially nutmeg.

Two of the biggest islands, Banda Besar and Banda Naira, are covered with nutmeg trees. The third island, Gunung Api or ‘peak of fire’ is an active volcano that emerges from the deep in a perfect cone, and is entirely rugged and highly volcanic. In the waters surrounding these islands you’ll find some of the world’s most spectacular marine gardens, with bright corals and colorful fish, bustling through the crystal-clear waters, making it suitable for diving, snorkeling or even simply sightseeing.
Due to its remote location and the surrounding deep sea, the waters around Banda are extremely clear. Visibilities of 30 m are common and on some days you can experience 50 m +. The condition and health of the coral reefs is breathtaking – what makes the most important rule in scuba diving quite difficult to follow. Most of the sites are wall dives characterized by huge sea fans, barrel sponges and orange soft corals. It has one area where a volcano erupted and destroyed much of the coral reefs. But, as nature took over, you now have one of the best hard coral reefs in the world!


CLIMATE:  There are three different climate patterns in the three main regions.
North Maluku (Halmahera, Obi Islands, Sula Islands) – It tends to be hot and humid year-round, with rains a possibility at any time. It rains a bit more during the May – August.
Central Maluku, including the most popular destinations like Ambon and the Banda Islands as well as the south coast of Seram, there is a marked increase in rainfall during the June – September.
Southern Maluku follows the climate pattern typical of most of Indonesia, with more rain falling during Nov – Mar . The amount of rainfall here tends to decrease, and the seasons become more distinct, as you travel westwards.

TIME ZONE: Eastern Indonesia Time which is GMT +9 (covering Maluku and Irian Jaya). The capital Jakarta is GMT + 7 or 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.

LANGUAGE: Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country.

ELECTRICITY: Electric power supply is 220 volts in all regions. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors.

CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Indonesia Rupiah (Rp) is also called IDR. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money and clear your check. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies.

GRATUITIES: Most hotels add a 10% service charge to the bill on top of the 10% tax. In restaurants where service charge is not added, a tip of 5 to 10% on the bill will be appropriate depending on the service and type of establishment.

PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Country code +62. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or free WiFi.

VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All travelers to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, and have proof (tickets) of onward or return passage. Visa upon arrival is $35 Payable by USD cash only. Please check with your country if you are eligible for visa upon arrival. Visa-on-Arrival are valid for 30 days and are extendable with another 30 days to be applied at Immigration offices in Indonesia.

CUSTOMS: Maximum items allowed by customs when you visit Indonesia, 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 100 grams of tobacco, Reasonable amount of perfume per adult, meaning if you arrive drenched in perfume the customs probably will not mind you carrying loads of bottles, Cameras, video cameras, portable radios, cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipments are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. They must be declared to Customs.

DEPARTURE TAX: An airport tax of IDR150,000 – IDR200,000 is levied by airports on departing passengers on international flights and IDR30,000-IDR75,000 for those on domestic routes. Airport tax must be paid in Rupiah cash.

GETTING THERE: Most all major cities are connected by direct international flights and many carriers fly passengers to Indonesia’s towns and remote locations.

To get to Banda: From Ambon, you can charter a small plane to Banda Neira or catch the occasional Merpati flights, but these are quite sporadic. It is impossible to book round trip flights, so you would need to be sure to book your return ticket once in Ambon, and don’t forget to keep reconfirming, as flights are often cancelled due to bad weather, engine problems, and other unforeseen circumstances.
Alternatively, you can cross the Banda Sea by ferry, which is about 7 hours from Ambon to the Banda islands, but once again, these voyages are extremely unpredictable.
The Banda Islands are also a popular destination for diving live-aboard.


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