Spices and Macro Critters with a Liveaboard in the Banda Sea (Maluku Spices islands):
Humans have been constantly destroying Mother Nature. Many populated areas along the sea have been subjected to fishing. These areas have lost their flora and fauna due to extreme hunting. Similarly, in Indonesia, most of the areas along the sea have their essence destroyed by humans. Ocean life is extremely destroyed. For scuba divers who are searching for life underwater and the beauty of Mother Nature in the ocean, these crowded places with affected ocean life and polluted waters are not suitable. They search for deserted and clean places that have kept their natural essence in actual shape despite time, the places where you find completely another world underwater.
The Banda Sea is a perfect place for divers who are searching for a vibrant, healthy reef system with fish life in incredible numbers along with huge gorgonians and sponges and some truly monumental hard corals. Island has widespread muck diving and unexplored coral gardens, as well as a rich colonial heritage on land.
Cruise to Maluku Spices islands:
Dimensions of Banda Sea:
The Banda Sea is the most profound of the various oceans that make up the delightful Indonesian archipelago. Normally, with depth over 4,500m, and the most profound point being over 7,300m, it is a huge waterway extending for more than 1,000 km east to West, and 500 km North to South. The Banda Sea is found North of Flores and South of Seram.
Geography of the Region:
While there are island chains on the edges of the Banda Sea, it holds an extremely “maritime” feel to it with immense stretches of dark blue water. Inside the midriff of the Banda Sea, there are not many generally tiny islets standing out of the water from the tremendous profundities, with the following outcrop numerous miles away.
The geography of the island is a diver’s dream: to the other side inclines or dividers shrouded in a heap of hard and delicate corals, immense barrel wipes, and other benthic living things encompassed by billows of reef fish – to the opposite side the dark blue of the Banda Sea – a profundity from which fabulous pelagic ocean animals are probably going to ascend from underneath.
The uniqueness of the sea:
One of the fundamental goals of this journey are experiences with schools of fishes and jacks, barracudas, Spanish mackerels, yet additionally, unique shark species – grey reef, silky, silvertip, thresher, and the occasional tiger shark has been spotted. But the main attraction and uniqueness of this place are the hammerhead sharks – on a significant number of various areas of the atolls and islands we have discovered favored spots for tutoring hammerheads.
Muck Diving and Macro Critters:
Many dives are dedicated to the search for pelagic. This makes this trip unique for this part of the planet – there’s still much macrofauna to be found on most dives (it remains Indonesia, after all), but this is not an itinerary specifically for macro photographers – apart from the notable exception of the mating mandarin fish in Banda Neira, the muck dives of Ambon Bay and the critters’ paradise of Alor. Talking of unique: how about the day spent diving around Manuk, a volcano that breaches the surface and whose slopes serve as habitat for sea snakes in large numbers.
The first Spice Island:
Another highlight of this ocean-going trip is the visit to the Banda Archipelago – the first Spice Islands! A truly magical, goosebump-inducing place, as deeply steeped into living history as it gets.
All in all, this trip are often the trip of a lifetime, with an opportunity for unforgettable encounters and moments both above and below the waves of the Banda Sea – a stunning place with a certain “off the beaten track” appeal, that produce the most impressive “Spices & Snakes” cruise.
Dive sites in the Banda Sea that you should not miss:
The Banda area offers a good variety of dive sites, from the volcanic rock at Pohon Miring to the black sand in Banda’s harbor, muck diving with flying gurnards spreading their electric blue wings, nervously moving sea moth, nudibranchs, and the mandarin fish, which are seen in many places around the harbor of Banda Neira.
The Intensity of marine life in this Bay is unrivaled; with a combination of nutrients pushed into this large bay with lots of small coves where critters can benefit from the passing currents but are still protected by sheltered waters. A unique combination creates conditions that nourish an incredible ecosystem that makes this bay one of the richest and most interesting places to dive. Ambon Bay is also famous for weird species like the Psychedelic Frogfish; right here at a dive site named the twilight zone, where many different kinds of moray eel, sea moth, ribbon eel, stonefish take habitat too. The Ambon shipwreck, a Dutch cargo vessel that sunk during the 1950s, is also a very photogenic site and teeming with life.
Komba is an active volcano in the Flores Sea with the smell of sulfur in the air when you are nearby. You’ll find sheer walls and ridges all around the island with black volcanic sandy slopes up in the shallows. Colorful walls with soft coral, sea fans and encrusting sponges, lots of reef fish along the walls, and out in the blue there’s a good chance for bigger stuff like dogtooth tunas, mackerels, jacks, rays, turtles, and reef sharks. Another highlight of Komba is the regular eruptions, which turn the night sky into a spectacular natural firework display that can be witnessed from a safe distance.
Maumere is a beautiful bay on the north coast of Flores. There is a wealth of macro life to keep any diver fascinated for hours. It’s this diversity that has also made Maumere a perfect place to finish our cruise.
Beneath the towering Gunung Api, an active volcano 1,450 meters above sea level to the north of Lembata island, are wonderful sites, dramatic sheer walls, plateaus with beautiful hard corals, overhangs, and black sand critter dives. It’s not uncommon to see predators like reef sharks swim along the reef.
The coast of Pulau Wetar features excellent drop-offs, colorful reefs, and abundant fish life that swim amongst sea fans, barrel sponges, and encrusting soft corals. Because of the deep waters of the Banda Sea, the visibility is great and there are good chances for pelagics on the wall.
Alor & Pantar:
The 3 inactive Volcano Islands in the Strait between Alor and Pantar make it a perfect combination for some world-class diving, with vertical sheer walls, numerous small coves, a good mix of freshwater, slightly sloping silky sand with swift currents that bring so many nutrients into the bay and provide shelter for critters that take habitat here. From colorful coral to rare pelagic and critters on the seabed, the bay of Alor has it all.
Gunung Api is a volcano that last erupted in 1988 and subsequently covered the reef in lava, however, the reef has recovered faster than anyone expected. This Volcano sits alone in the middle of the Banda Sea and is home to an amazing variety of birds including shearwaters, terns, boobies, frigates, and red-tailed tropicbirds to mention a few, but also to sea snakes. For some reason this island in the middle of nowhere is home to hundreds if not thousands of sea snakes, banded & olive sea snakes. They are curious and swim right for you and it seems like every time you look down there is a snake poking around your fin tips! They also wind around to look at their reflection in your camera dome port and are posing for you. They are treating you as part of their environment and have no malicious intent at all.
Dusborgh Reef & Nil Desperandum:
The volcanic islands and submerged reefs in the middle of the Banda Sea are calling out for exploration. Drop-offs, drift dives, great visibility, and the possibility of “pelagic action”.
A treasure closely guarded and lost in the middle of the Banda Sea, this isolated reef runs for several kilometers and is an oasis for pelagic life. Schools of jacks patrol the edges of the reef and are joined by large numbers of hammerhead sharks on a regular basis. The coral is in good health and lovers of the macrofauna won’t be disappointed, however, it is more often than not that our heads are facing into the deep blue for a special spectacle.
Walking around Banda Neira:
Enjoy the view of Gunung Api, a 650-meter high active volcano, from the top of Fort Belgica, built by the Dutch in 1611 and located in the historical town of Banda Neira. Clove, Nutmeg, Marc, and cinnamon are still the main spices that are grown here.
What’s the Best time to visit the Banda Sea?
June to August is a season characterized by rainfall on the island.
August has pleasant weather with more tourists and divers humming the place.
October to December is the high season. January doesn’t have the best weather.
So, the best time to visit is before winter in August.
Are you ready to dive into Spices Islands in BANDA? Let’s aboard with VAIATEA Liveaboard.
Start your amazing MACRO & special critters experience here.