Beyond Bali


    East Bound

      1-11-2016
     

    East Bound

    East Bound

    The underwater life of Banda Neira.

    East Bound

    Admiring the beauty of the island and its surroundings.

    East Bound

    An old fort that existed since the Dutch Colonial Era.

    East Bound

    East Bound

    East Bound
    The underwater life of Banda Neira.

    East Bound
    Admiring the beauty of the island and its surroundings.

    East Bound
    An old fort that existed since the Dutch Colonial Era.

    East Bound

    From the deep blue sea to the top of a mountain in Banda Neira...

    It was two years ago when I first wished to travel to Banda Neira, so after a long wait, I was beyond excited to finally visit this heaven on earth together with a couple of friends. Banda Neira is an island in the Moluccas Islands chain, which lies in the eastern part of Indonesia. Although small in size, Banda Neira plays an important role in the history of Indonesia, as it was one of the key areas in the trading world. During the golden era of the archipelago, Banda Neira was one of the busiest islands where people went for business. And that’s why Banda Neira, which is famous for its beautiful marine life, also has many interesting historical sites.

    Getting to Banda Neira takes quite a long time, but trust me the journey is well worth it. My group spent a total of 14 hours to reach Banda Neira – the journey took a flight from Jakarta to Ambon (the capital city of the Moluccas), and then continued by fast boat to Banda Harbor. At the harbor, some staff from The Nutmeg Tree & Hotel Dive were awaiting our arrival and using a cart, they took all of our luggage to the hotel. The Nutmeg Tree Hotel & Dive was our place to stay for the following six days, as we planned to explore the high and low points of the island. It is strategically located by the beach with a view of the ocean in the foreground and the mountains in the background, and such magnificent scenery makes this hotel one of a kind.

    Lo And Behold
    Banda Neira has much to offer visitors, but the main highlight is the underwater life. My group didn’t want to waste any time, so the next day we went straight to the ocean.

    There are a lot of dive sites to explore, but I think Tanjung Kenari is the most unique one. The entry point of this dive site is so surreal; it was like we were entering an underwater cave with visibility up to 40 meters. At this dive site my group was greeted by numerous Giant Seafan – there were so many of them that they formed a kind of a wall where little fish were swimming around. We also saw a Honeycomb Moray Eel, Bump Head and turtles. Rumor has it that a school of Hammer Head Sharks can be found swimming in this area during a certain season.

    Our next stop was Batu Kapal. “Batu” means stone and “kapal” means ship, and the name of this dive site is inspired by the contour of the area, where the coral reef is so big that it looks almost like a ship. The most interesting finding here is the schools of little fish that are swimming around despite the strong current. However, due to the strong current, this dive site is not recommended for beginners.

    After diving, my group decided to go island hopping just to relax and chill out. We visited a number of islands, Hatta Island and Rhun Island to name two, all of which were breathtaking with white sandy beaches. But my personal favorite was Nailaka Island, an atoll with white sand that only surfaces during low tide.

    To The Top
    Although it may not be as internationally known as it used to be, Banda Neira still hasn’t lost its charm as it is filled with historical sites as well. During its golden era the island was famous among Europeans for its spices. There are also a number of buildings that used to house Indonesian political figures such as Muhammad Hatta, Dr. Cipto and Sutan Sjahrir during their exile.

    Early one morning, before sunrise, I cruised around a small town in Banda Neira on my skateboard to explore the empty streets and see the age-old buildings that dated back to the Dutch colonial era. I passed a fortress, a colonialstyle church, a temple and a small palace that once witnessed Banda Neira during its golden times. I couldn’t help but imagining how busy that empty street must have been during those glory days.

    Aside from those historical sites, Banda Neira also boasts natural beauty like no other in its highlands. A couple of days after our diving adventure, guided by some staff from The Nutmeg Tree Hotel & Dive, our group went hiking on Mount Api Banda, an active volcano that stands 640 meters above sea level. Experienced hikers might be able to accomplish this hike in little time, but my group spent two hours, as the path was pretty challenging and narrow. But all the sweat was forgotten once we reached the top of the mountain and treasured the view. No words can describe our feelings as we sat there admiring the beauty of Banda Neira from this high point. We waited for sunset in silence while listening to “In Love with You” by The Heptones.

    Six days passed and we couldn’t believe how time had gone so fast. When our group first planned our visit to Banda Neira, our main focus was scuba diving. We didn’t really plan to explore the land, and that’s why I think six days on this small island is just not enough as there are a lot of sites to see, like the nutmeg plantations and the homes of Indonesian political figures. But I don’t have to worry because this small island now has a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to visit Banda Neira once again.


     


     
    Ricky Virgana

       Contributor : Ricky Virgana


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