The Banda Islands are a group of seven small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea about 210 km (120 nautical miles) south-east of Ambon in the province of Maluku. They rise out of 4 to 6 kilometres of deep ocean providing superb diving for both macro and pelagic fauna.
Until the mid-19th century the Banda Islands were the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace spices. Wars were fought between the Portuguese, Dutch and English for hundreds of years before the Dutch finally swapped the tiny Island of Run for Manhattan.
Well off the beaten track, steeped in history and promising breath-taking diving, the Banda Sea cruise takes you a step back in time to experience these fantastic islands both above and below the water.
7 nights highlights include:
- Muck dives in the famous Ambon Bay
- Sunset Dive for the Mandarin fish in Banda Neira
- Chance to see pelagic sharks
- Incredibly healthy coral reefs
- Land visit on Banda Neira and Run
- Dives around the Islands of Run, Ai, Gunung Api Banda and Banda Neira
Our 12-night Banda Sea cruise is for those with the spirit of adventure as we set sail to rarely dived sites, islands and atolls. Seldom-dived sites, active volcanoes, hammerheads and pelagic action, plus a visit to the mythic Banda Islands (original Spice Islands), make this a once in a lifetime cruise.
12 nights highlights include:
- Muck dives in the famous Ambon Bay
- Hammerhead dives at Nil Desperandum
- Underwater hydrothermal vents and sea snakes of Manuk Island
- Incredibly healthy coral reefs
- Land visit and sunset Dive for the Mandarin fish in Banda Neira
- Dives around the Islands of Run, Ai, Gunung Api Banda, Batu Kapal, Banda Neira Jetty and Lava Flow
- Secret Spots: We know some excellent spots for shark action that we prefer not to publish but are happy to share with you!
Land visits: On both the 7- and 12-night cruises we visit Run & Banda Neira to see the nutmeg plantation, historic forts and small Maritime Museum. A half-day excursion.
Please note: There are two overnight crossings of more than 100 nautical miles during both the 7- and 12-night itineraries.
Click dive site markers for detailed descriptions.
Dive sites & areas that we may visit are subject to weather conditions.
Ambon is probably one of Indonesia's best kept secrets for macro lovers. Some of the highlight encounters may be Psychedelic, Giant and Painted frogfish, Flamboyant cuttlefish, Rhinopias, Psychedelic Batwing nudibranch and countless well-disguised crabs and shrimps.
- Ambon Bay -
Critters, Muck Diving, famous Psychedelic Ambon Frogfish
- Ambon Wreck -
The wreck of the SS Aquila (built as SS Duke of Sparta) lies on a slope with her stern at about 45 feet below the surface, with the bow lying at more than 100 feet. At the end of April 1958, Aquila was anchored off Ambon City when a Douglas B-26 Invader bomber aircraft bombed and damaged her. She stayed afloat for a month but finally sank on May 27, 1958. The wreck is deep inside Ambon Bay and close to the city so the visibility can be pretty poor. It is covered in soft corals and sponges and attracts a good deal of fish life.
Set in the heart of Indonesia in splendid isolation are the Banda Islands, which have a rich and important history. These islands are blessed with some of the finest scuba diving in Indonesia.
- Pohon Miring -
The impressive rock structure of Pohon Miring is located on the northern tip of Banda Besar. A deep swim-through has been created by a large crack in the reef – ideal for a picturesque drift dive to view the sponge-covered walls. Southern and northern currents meet here, attracting a host of different fish including bump-head parrotfish.
- Batu Kapal -
Batu Kapal, which means 'Ship Rock' in Indonesian, has a plateau top reef full of soft coral, that slopes down to a sandy bottom from around 20m. A pleasant drift dive that lets you enjoy schooling jacks, trevallies, snappers, fusiliers, barracuda and sweet lips.
- Batu Kapal Pinnacle -
Batu Kapal Pinnacle is a rock sticking out above the water. The dive site is a vast plateau at about 5 meters that has beautiful corals and sea fans, and two more pinnacles at 12 and 15 meters. There can be strong currents around here so keep your eyes open for the bigger pelagics in the blue.
- Banda Neira Jetty -
Located at the pier of the Banda Neira airport, this dive site offer a shelter for many juvenile fish. Covered with sponges and soft coral, the columns welcome schools of small fish, juvenile batfish, and many small critters like moery eel, lion fishs, nudis and sometimes Rhinopias.
- Lava Flow -
Gunung Api is a small volcanic island located to the west of Banda Neira and is another “highlight” of the Banda Sea. During the last eruption of the volcano in 1988, lava flows destroyed the reef. But since then the regeneration of the hard coral reef on top of the solid lava platform has been phenomenal. Large schools of fish cover the reef including snapper, fusilier, butterflyfish and batfish.
- Ai Island -
An isolated limestone island surrounded by deep water, Pulau Ai is on the western side of Banda Neira group of Islands. Attracted by the strong currents hitting the islands reef, large Pelagic such as Barracuda, trevally and tuna all school here. Look out into the blue as you never know when there might be schooling hammerheads, thresher sharks and silvertip sharks.
- Run Island
Nil Desperandum, which when translated means “don’t despair”, possibly refers to the ship that was wrecked here centuries ago. A big atoll with a very steep drop off, schooling sharks including hammerheads, silky and gray reef sharks can be spotted in the deep.
The island of Manuk possesses two very exceptional highlights, both above and below the water. Myriads of beautiful seabirds, including frigates and boobies, glide overhead, looking to take advantage of Manuk’s rich sea-life. Below the shoreline, however, large numbers of sea snakes can be found undulating through the waters. It is believed that the geothermal vents present in these waters attract the cold-blooded serpents in droves. In addition to these distinct natural marvels, the island’s reefs are a stunning combination of coral covered walls and slopes in all sizes and colors. Outstanding arrays of reef fish congregate on the reef, including tuna, jacks, and sharks.
SCHEDULED TRIPS, AVAILABILITIES & PRICES
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Check Dive & Depart Ambon
Once onboard there will be a safety briefing, crew introduction, complete and check dive paperwork, cabin allocation and boat orientation. The first dive is a check dive.
Return to Ambon
On the last diving day, 2 dives are available in the morning whilst observing the rule of no diving within 24 hours of reaching altitude. We return to port at approximately 1pm and moor here overnight. Evening-time pack up diving equipment and settle any outstanding bills ready to depart for the airport or hotel the following morning.
Advanced, 50 dives
This itinerary is not for beginners with many dives below 18m and currents can vary from medium to extremely strong. We recommend that you have 50 logged dives and require that you are a Deep Diver/Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent to join this trip. Divers may find many dives challenging and may be asked by the Cruise Director to skip dives that are not suitable for their diving experience. Diving is from zodiacs to give precise entry and exit points.