Stretching from the Bunaken National Marine Park in Sulawesi to the world-famous Raja Ampat in West Papua, Maluku is a wonderful extension to the two outstanding Indonesian diving locations. These are the most attractive dive sites in Maluku.
Halmahera is the largest island in the entire Maluku with the capital Sofifi. Bound by its troubled past and religious conflict, the island carries a significant heritage for the province. Although the island is the biggest of all, tourism here is fairly undeveloped and Halmahera keeps its secrets in the deep jungles and the spewing volcanoes of the mainland.
It is more the underwater world that draws the tourists. Since Halmahera is located on the Coral Triangle it features immense eco-system and rich marine life. Its virgin white sand beaches and tropical corals at Tobelo, Kao and Galela provide some of the best conditions for an off-the-beaten-track diving expedition.
BEST DIVING LOCATIONS IN HALMAHERA
TO GET THERE: fly to Sofifi – the major city in Halmahera.
North Maluku`s northernmost island might well be the most magnificent one. Overlooking the open Pacific, there is a powerful energy dominating this place. It is mostly sailors and yachters who visit Morotai since the island is very isolated with hardly any roads.
The island is surrounded with splendid sandbars and atolls, e.g. Dodola, Kokoya and Zum-Zum which are magnets for the scuba divers. There are many other great diving sites around Morotai. The island used to serve as n important base during the WWII and there its waters are not only filled with corals but also ship and aircraft wrecks.
BEST DIVING LOCATIONS IN MOROTAI
TO GET THERE: Fly to Dokumalo/North Halmahera. Catch a boat in Tobelo to Daruba/Morotai from where you can hire a speedboat to Dodola, Zum-Zum and Kokoya unless you sail your own boat.
3.TERNATE & TIDORE
The former Sultanate of Ternate gave its sultans a commodity that made them the wealthiest and most powerful in the whole Indonesia – clove. Once famous as the ‘Spice Island’, Ternate is one of the most attractive in North Maluku.
By sheer cliffs encircled Tolire Lake, on the nearby Hiri Island, is known for saltwater crocodiles and its abundant surrounding is a must-see in Maluku. There is a boat terminal at the Sulamadaha Beach to Hiri Island.
Diving in Ternate is well-developed, and there are numerous dive centres that offer safe and reliable underwater expeditions. Besides, both islands are excellent for freediving and wreck diving.
BEST DIVING LOCATIONS AROUND TERNATE & TIDORE
TO GET THERE: fly from Jakarta/Java or Makassar/Sulawesi directly to Ternate. Otherwise, the islands are well-connected to any other locations in North Maluku via local ferry.
4.AMBON & SERAM
Historically, Ambon Island is the most important island in Maluku. It is also the most visited tourist destination in the Moluccas. Ambon is characteristic of lush rainforest, active volcanoes, hot springs and immaculate beaches and coral reefs.
Seram has quite a good road infrastructure, and it is a smart idea to rent a scooter and self-drive around the island to explore some of the hidden spots and secret beaches ideal for independent snorkelling & diving. One of the highlights in Seram is the Ora Eco-resort that has lovely overwater bungalows built on the beautiful coral reef.
BEST DIVING LOCATIONS AROUND AMBON & SERAM
TO GET THERE: fly directly from Jakarta/Java or Makassar/Sulawesi to Ambon – the capital city of Maluku. To get to Seram catch a fast boat from Ambon to Amahai/Masohi.
The central island is Pulau Neira with the provincial capital Bandaneira which has fairly well-developed tourism infrastructure compared to other Maluku islands. Apart from excellent snorkelling and diving sites, Banda islands are well-known for Gunung Api (660 m) – a beautifully shaped cone volcano and a popular climbing location.
Banda Islands have very abundant, healthy and undamaged coral system; several diving operators run their business on the islands (the German company Dive Blue Motion is the most reliable).
BEST DIVING LOCATIONS AROUND BANDA ISLANDS
TO GET THERE: Pelni ships run from Java/Surabaya and Sulawesi/Macassar to Banda Besar Island. Fast boats operate between Ambon and Banda, as well. Otherwise, you can fly directly from to Pulau Neira Island/Bandaneira Airport.
Diving expeditions in Maluku are strongly recommended for experienced divers only. Currents are very strong, infrastructure is poor, and it is advised to travel and dive in groups.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Weather in Maluku is extremely unpredictable. The Central and South Maluku Islands often get strong winds from December to February which makes it hard for snorkelers and scuba divers.
NORTH MALUKU – wet season generally runs between June and August, hence avoid these months
CENTRAL MALUKU – wet season generally runs between November and March, hence avoid these months
SOUTH MALUKU – wet season generally runs between December and February, hence avoid these months
Overly, it seems like the ideal time to visit Maluku is the shoulder season (April-May and Oct-Nov)
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Jakarta/Java. Catch a flight to Ambon (for Central & South Maluku) and Ternate (for North Maluku).
The slow Pelni Ships operate between most of the islands in Indonesia, albeit they are mostly used by the local people.
For all domestic Indonesian flights check out www.garuda-indonesia.com
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