The Scent of the Spice Islands I
The Moluccas are the original Spice Islands; a magical destination, beautiful, remote and unspoiled, with a long, fascinating and turbulent history. For millennia, these fertile volcanic isles were the world’s only source of the ‘holy trinity’ of rare spices; cloves, nutmeg and mace, which were once worth their weight in gold. Great opportunity to swim and snorkel in waters rich in marine life.
Safari covers Banda Islands, Obi, Bacan, Halmahera and Ternate.
You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to our handsome ship Ombak Putih at anchor off Ternate’s mighty volcanic cone, Mt Gamalama (1715 metres). Then we go ashore to Ternate, one of four historically powerful Moluccan spice sultanates.
Today we’ll be in Tidore, another perfect volcanic-cone island rising from the tropical seas. We will visit a blacksmith working an ancient design of piston-bellows to forge knives and machetes.
Sunrise finds us in Indonesia’s most stunning seascape. Four volcanic-cone islands emerge from the sea. They are Makian, Moti, Tidore and Ternate.
There are interesting expeditions ashore and good places to snorkel. Later we cruise towards Payahe Bay on the mainland of Halmahera.
Tonight we cross the Equator.
Our first Southern Hemisphere anchorage is off the north shore of Bacan, another seat of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates.We go exploring ashore at the isolated village of Geti or its neighbour Goro-Goro, walking up a rainforest-clad river valley.
The crew will have delivered you on schedule to the Patinti Strait and Doworalamo, where we visit a village of the famous sea gypsies, known in Eastern Indonesia as Sama-Bajo.
We will also have opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and beach-combing before our ship takes a southerly course on an overnight passage across the Ceram Sea.
Deserted, white-sand Belang-Belang is a real beachcomber’s paradise, where we can launch our full flotilla of watercraft, kayaks and paddle boards. We will visit isolated Manatahan, a village of migrant Butungese from Sulawesi hundreds of miles to the west.
After an afternoon snorkeling, we will cruise on towards the Lease group (pronounced ‘Lay-ah-say’).
On Saparua we land beside Dutch Fort Duurstede (1691. A highlight here is a lunchtime feast of wonderful local dishes – freshly prepared by villager hosts from forest, garden and sea produce.
Overnight we have sailed south-east into the Banda Sea, to reach the renowned, remote Banda archipelago. In the capital Bandaneira, on the biggest island, Neira, we land near the elegant arches of Hotel Maulana – a little slice of Somerset Maugham. Just across the harbour is Banda’s perfect, jungle-clad volcanic cone Gunung Api. We will climb or snorkel over the black lava.
We choose from some of the other small islands of the Banda archipelago – Lonthoir, Ai, Run, Hatta – each of them with its own remnants of old plantations, Dutch cemeteries and fortifications. We will climb up to fortress Hollandia. Leaving Banda we will navigate through the Sonnegat (‘Sun’s gap’) between Neira and Gunung Api.
Our final anchorage is Ambon’s splendid, sheltered harbour. After breakfast we will take an (optional) short tour of the surrounding area. After this we will return to the boat for lunch before heading to the airport for our departure.
The route and dives are always organized according to the weather conditions, the currents and tides.