Four and a half degrees south of the equator, the seven volcanic islands of the Banda archipelago were for centuries the world’s only source of nutmeg, earning the Moluccas their nickname – the Spice Islands. Each tropical paradise is covered in dense forest, and the water surrounding the islands is teeming with sea life, ensuring unbeatable diving. At 666 metres high, Gunung Api – Banda’s Fire Mountain – dominates the landscape
Board your yacht in Ambon and sail for Banda, spotting dolphins and sperm whales along their migration route.
See Gunung Api in the dawn light, as you arrive at your first Spice Island, Ai. This small island is surrounded by pristine coral reef, perfect for diving or snorkelling; the small village is home to a Dutch storehouse from the 1600s and a nutmeg plantation containing trees over 100 years old. After pausing for some locally brewed ginger tea on the beach, return on-board and enjoy a sunset sail to Banda Naire for overnight anchorage.
Wake to the sound of birds living on the slopes of Gunung Api. After breakfast spend the day marvelling at magnificent ocean panoramas while diving and snorkelling at Run Island. So keen to control these rare nutmeg plantations, the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan in exchange for Run in 1674. Later inspect Malaki islet, once home to an English fort. Overnight anchorage at Banda Neira.
Hike Gunung Api for a once in a lifetime lookout over the Banda Islands. The view of the sulphur clouds escaping from this active 666-metre volcano is a staggering sight. A tour of the impressive colonial architecture includes a visit to Fort Belgica, its historic church and governor’s house, and a trip to Fort Nassau and the local market by trishaw. Pick up fresh nutmeg, sundried cinnamon quills, and local spice delicacies. The day ends with a candlelit dinner on the ramparts of Fort Belgica with a music and dance performance.
It is traditional for longboats to race visiting vessels out of the harbour, and leaving Banda Naire you will witness the speed and strength of the local rowers as they keep pace with your boat. Sail to Pulau Hatta to snorkel, dive, fish, kayak and paddleboard, followed by guided walks and sunset drinks at Hatta Island. Cruise overnight back to Ambon for your outbound flight.