Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
5D4N itinerary to Banda Islands, Maluku, seems like a lot of time to spend on such a small archipelago, but this is the shortest time you can enjoy yourself on the islands. And believe me, it’s not enough. Not so because there’s so much to do, but itineraries are limited to transportation schedules.
This 5D4N itinerary to Banda Island is based on the shortest period of time according to the fast boat schedule from Banda to Ambon. It departs Ambon every Saturday and Tuesday, and travel to Banda every Sunday and Wednesday. Fast boats take 5-7 hours. Tickets are at IDR 410,000 per pax (2017).
There’s much that you can do since the estimated time of arrival would be around 4-5PM depending on water and weather condition. In the remaining day you can chillax at your accommodation as you will need to stretch your legs or walk around the city and familiarize yourself with it. I suggest you give a go at the banana fritter sold not too far from the hospital, near one of the entrances to Nassau Fort. The stall is in light blue and doesn’t have a particular name.
For dinner, if not provided by your accommodation, you can grab something at The Nutmeg Café at the city center monument, on the other side of the fort. Taste the ‘terong kenari’ or eggplant in tropical walnut sauce and the nutmeg soup. Guarantee it’s something very different to the usual Indonesian palate with strong nutmeg taste and it’s delicious.
If you plan to go diving in Banda Islands, visit the one of 2 dive centers on Neira Island. About diving in Banda Islands, read more on our blog.
Tip: to prepare your next dinner, walk to the market and find Ibu Masita. Order a slab of moist grilled tuna for the next night. If you plan to visit the islands the next day, pre-book your boat and lunch-to-go on this day. There’s not a lot of dining options on the smaller islands.
Most travelers travel to Hatta Island upfront to decide whether they will eventually spend a few days there or not. Most of them do. Hatta Island is a relatively flat island on the east. Known most of its sandy beaches, it’s also famous for beautiful coral drop-offs and dive site as there’s an atoll not too far off the shoreline. The island is best to relax and read a book.
Where to stay: Naira Dive can help you find a place to stay. Blue Lagoon Dive Center also has a dive center and resort on the other side of Hatta Island. Reservations directly to them or from your booked accommodation.
Syahrir Island is closer to the islands near Neira Island. It’s small, usually a destination for snorkelers and those that want to see Gunung Api from a distance. Travelers usually visit before heading to Hatta or coming back from it, as it’s rarely a main destination but a good place to kill time. If you still have time, you can swim at the mini lighthouse on Karaka Island, just off of Neira Island.
For dinner, don’t forget your grilled tuna and chili paste, with ‘suami’ or shreaded cassava cake. Have a good meal at the Spice Island café, along with mango juice and ‘terong kenari’ (this one is better but good to have previous reference). Coffee lovers, this is where you should try the nutmeg coffee or any variant. So good!
Also pre-book your dinner at the Cilu Bintang Restaurant if you’re not staying there. The hotel is a beautiful establishment.
If you’re an early riser, drop by the fish market to see the catch of the day. Fish in Banda are extremely fresh, most can be eaten directly (sashimi) when requested to the local fishermen. Once you taste the fish of Banda, there’s no turning back.
The best way to explore the island is to really visit the most that you can. Run (read: Roon) is the most western island and was the only island owned by the British colony (as the rest belonged to Dutch Indies). Walk through the colorful villages and meet the friendly locals. Visit the ‘iron house’, a mark from the colonial days with steel that came straight from Europe. It was a failed attempt to make a perek (nutmeg processing house). Swim in the fresh water and see the coral drop-offs surrounding the island. Also, visit the separated white sand beach on Nailaka Island
Where to stay: Nailaka Homestay by Burhan, IDR200,000K per night which include three simple meals. There’s no electricity during the day.
A visit to Ay Island is somewhat necessary, despite the island doesn’t seem too distinct from Run. It is abundant with colonial remains naming fort, perek (nutmet processing house — > kalo yang di paragraf di atas tadi dihapus), churches and gates. There are some local snacks only available on the island in forms of crackers, pop by a store to find them.
Visit the nutmeg plantation. It is said, forests on Ay Island was once cleared out to make way for the nutmeg plantation. Hence a neater and more organized plantation.
Where to stay: Green Coconut Homestay; beautiful reefs are located on the front of the homestay, or Vita Homestay where the locals can tell you more about the island stories and history.
Have dinner at the Cilu Bintang Restaurant while listening to the locals sing to entertain. Don’t forget to pre-book dinner at the Nutmeg Tree Hotel and Dive and your hiking trip for the next morning.
Gunung Api, still an active volcano, is worth the hike. It’s only about 650 m asl with an estimate of 1 km of track. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Many hikers I know have admitted that it’s way harder than it looks due to the rubble and sandy path, but it’s doable for most healthy people. Challenging but doable. Hiking Gunung Api should start at 4AM and you’ll probably be back by 9-10AM.
Tips: bring your own water supply and chocolate. Don’t forget sunscreen and hats because there are no trees at the peak.
Being one of the most sought islands during the 16th century, there might be some good just to do a city tour and spice tour. Even though you’re not a history buff, the horror story of one of the earliest genocides and what people would do to conquer these islands is unbelievably bloody and worth your time and money.
The spice tour in Banda is also packed with history. And it’s good to see the origins of the nutmeg and come close by visiting a plantation, especially that on Banda Besar Island. Also visit the iconic Belgica Fort and Nassau Fort. Ask your accommodation for this service or visit The Nutmeg Tree Hotel and Dive for more information.
Have that pre-arranged dinner at the The Nutmeg Tree Hotel and Dive. Believe me, it’s where you’d want your last meal before heading off Banda Island.
The only time you have would be up to 9AM, when the fast boat departs. My suggestion is to spend time at the market near the port. There’s much to do and see, including the fish packing process as fish will be transported on the same fast boat. Or stroll around to see the various goods sold such as nutmeg, cinnamon, fish/shrimp paste, tropical walnuts, aside to the regular fruits and vegetables. The cinnamon and nutmeg are some of the best in the world. And in the morning pop by Ibu Annisa cake stall, beside the The Nutmeg Café. Best cakes in town.
This 5D4N itinerary to Banda Islands doesn’t necessarily have to be in order but there’s very little time for day 1 and 5 should you take the fast boat. Day 2-4 is a recommended itinerary but you can move the order around according to your liking. DO A LOT OF SWIMMING! You can opt to stay on other islands than Naira.
Hope to bump into you in Banda Islands!