Of course, you can enjoy some interesting dive vacations right from your comfortable hotel in Bali. Better yet, sidestep the big tourist hub and explore a tiny archipelago in the middle of the vast blue ocean where the coral reefs are pristine and the sea creatures are healthy and plentiful.
Obviously, the reason You come here is the sea for snorkeling and diving. Banda Island and its neighbors have some of the biggest and healthiest coral reefs in the world and they are just off the beaches or shores for an exciting dive vacation. You can observe plenty of sea creatures in and around these reefs. The best observation point is where the reef drops suddenly into the deep blue depth of the ocean.
The Banda Islands are listed as cultural heritage at Unesco; people here want to change this listing to incorporate all the reefs or the land masses and sea between them and some would like the whole Spice Route to be listed.
Depending on the season schools of dolphins travel through the archipelago, we met them in October. They like to play around boats but will keep a distance of snorkelers (meaning you can swim with them but they do not let you touch them). Whales too travel through this part of the ocean and so do flying fish. Your guides will take you to a beautiful white sand beach and unpack lunch, for example, fried rice with an egg. Then the snorkeling or diving session continues a bit further around another island.
Coming to visit these islands gives you a chance to learn about the old and powerful Spice Trade, its bloody history here with its glamorous rise and sudden downfall. Step into nutmeg groves, learn about the spice then turn around and explore some of the crumbling fords erected by colonialists to control the flow of money and power. Our guide was Husen la Samadi; he loves these spice islands and its people and will do anything to protect them.
In the morning you will go out by fishing boat to the best spots to snorkel; then you wear some casual cloth over your swimming suit to go for a walk on one of the islands to visit a ford and nutmeg grove. While passing through villages you might see some men carving out one of their traditional canoes preparing for the big races. These canoes are manned by 35 warriors in their traditional costumes.
We had the chance to observe:
As an avid diver you might just choose to take a cruise on a Phinisi schooner; we visited one of them while it was anchored at Benoa Harbor. A more luxurious option might be the Silolona.
I went to Banda with a travel agent who organized everything, the flight to Ambon, speedboat to Banda and flight back to Ambon. We stayed at the beautiful Cilu Bintang Estate and had everything we needed for fantastic snorkel or dive vacations.
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