Banda (21/03/2019) – “There are lots of fish in the sea,” they claimed, and we were searching for Banda Neira’s fishes. We spent several days in Banda Islands exploring every facet of this hidden gem island. Banda Neira is a pleasant group of islands in the Maluku region in eastern Indonesia. We were alking through the streets, we encountered two of the five visitors, who were enjoying their lunches and had previously visited Banda Islands. They were still interested to know more about the Banda Islands. Indeed, one of them intends to settle down for the rest of his life. He did feel that spiritual tranquillity was essential.

Stunning coral reef habitat at Lautaka (Rama/file)

Our group went snorkeling to view the beautiful sea habitat surrounding Lautaka. For tourists to enjoy, there are coral reefs, clear seas where even minute items may be seen to depths of up to 8 fathoms, plenty of black ghost fishes swimming around the coral reefs, nemo, and many other beautiful fishes. We were quite enthusiastic. We just used snorkel masks and snorkel, and one of my friends was only carrying a swim goggle. However, the Banda Islands have won our hearts.

There is a lot to see at Banda Neira for those who want to travel back in time to when the Dutch colonized Indonesia. The historical eerily deserted governor’s mansion known as Istana Mini is one of the most appealing sights (Mini Palace). Istana Mini was constructed in the 1820s and has massive granite slabs, vivid floor tiles, gleaming marble, intricately carved beams, massive oak doors, and shuttered windows.

Traditional dance performances were held in Istana Mini. (Etsa/file)

The Rumah Budaya Museum (Cultural Museum) in Banda Neira is well worth a visit, since it houses centuries-old artifacts such as Dutch coins, clay pots, basketry, an antique ship’s bell, and a fully functional wind-up phonograph.

Our crew visits the Rumah Budaya Museum. (Etsa/file)

Many ethnicities, languages, and religions have contributed to today’s homogeneous, unique, and complex Bandanese people. Travelers, strange explorers, and – increasingly — luxury cruise ship guests visit the Bandas. Apart from tourism and modest nutmeg production, the only other promising area of the economy is tuna fishing.

The Banda Islands are far off the usual path. Pelni boats departing from Ambon, the province capital, are the most practical modes of transit to the highlands. The boats run weekly and cost an average of Rp 125,000 (US$9.07) for a one-way trip that lasts 8 to 12 hours. Visitors and tourists can also reach the Banda Islands through flights from Ambon to Banda Neira. For a one-way travel, these flights cost roughly Rp 400,000 per person.

Our crew joined fisherman fishing tuna in boats with less than 10 GT. (Rama/file)

The majority of the lodgings on the islands are along the shoreline, with spectacular views of the port and neighboring islands. The dozen or so guesthouses maintained by locals provide the most affordable lodgings. Breakfast is included in the daily cost, as are snorkeling equipment rentals and reservations for boat tours to the outlying islands.

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