Why should you give up luxurious Bali hotel stays for an adventure trip to Banda Island? This tiny archipelago is an off the beaten track trip offering you an exotic culture, history-laden fords, beautiful and tranquil nature above and under the sea. Tempted yet? Read on.
First, you need to fly to Ambon island, the city of Ambon in the province of Maluku. Several commercial Indonesian airlines, Garuda and Batik Airlines among them serve Pattimura Airport with regularly scheduled flights from Jakarta and other cities. From Ambon, you can either take the PT. Pelni regular ferry to Banda Neira, it takes 8-9 hours. You can take a speedboat departing from Pelabuhan Tulehu and travels between the two destinations several times a week (not every day); it will take 5 -7 hours depending on the weather.
The speedboat was quite comfortable, we got tickets in the first class cabin and luckily it is air-conditioned, and is situated behind the bridge. There are about 40 declinable airplane seats, and small windows. There is a toilet, not fancy, just what you need. The economy cabin is lower down, about water level, and there is an open upper deck in the back with benches; access is by a small wooden ladder. Luggage and cargo are heaped into empty spaces behind seats and doorways and the open upper deck.
There is also a rare flight available! AIRFAST a government supported airlines offers flights on a 12 seater plane and it takes about an hour for each trip. Right now the schedule is twice a week and since this journey very much depends on good weather schedules change quickly.
The best months to visit Banda Neira are from about September to December. There are other months when a journey is still possible from May to August, although you will encounter some rainy days.
About 21,000 inhabitants in total live on the islands; the smaller islets are empty. Here you do not need cars for transportation; there is only a handful of them anyway, including 2 ambulances standing by at the hospital in Banda. Motor bicycles are used on land and of course, everybody owns a boat for fishing and going around the islands. Children also go to school, there are plenty of primary to high-schools. There is a university for fishery and history too. Since President Joko Widodo introduced the ‘sea highway’ more ships including cargo reach this tiny archipelago.
We stayed at the absolutely gorgeous and comfortable Cilu Bintang Estate, there are other hotels like Mutiara available.
The most exclusive way to experience Banda island is with a Phinisi, traditional cargo vessel turned into a cruise ship.
Besides enjoying your accommodation you came here to snorkel and dive; explore the culture; learn about nutmeg and the bloody history around the spice trade. But first you need to get here, through Ambon and choose a hotel there.
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