Maluku stretches between the Philippines, Indonesian Sulawesi, New Guinea and Australia, and they are connected to the open Pacific Ocean in the north-east. The archipelago is located within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone, and its volcanic origin is quite obvious from a far distance; majestic island-volcanoes are covered with tropical rainforest and surrounded with myriads of idyllic coral islets and sandbars.
SAILING & DIVING HEAVEN
Once the world`s only source of mace, cloves and nutmeg, today, Maluku is an attractive yacht charter destination. Although the archipelago is not as commercialised as other Pacific islands, for many Western travellers, it is extremely charming, as there is still so much to discover.
Besides, Maluku is located on the Coral Triangle the underwater world features some of the richest marine ecosystems and biodiversity on the planet. Particularly, sailors and scuba divers love to visit this remote part of the world and explore its raw, unspoiled nature and deep underwater scenery.
WHAT ISLANDS TO VISIT IN NORTH MALUKU
HALMAHERA – the largest island in Maluku, albeit tourism here is fairly undeveloped. There are some inland activities to do, e.g. sea kayaking, river rafting and jungle trekking, but it is more the underwater world that the visitors are after
TERNATE – the most visited island in North Maluku, famous for spices, volcano Gamalama (1715 m), Sulamadaha Beach, Tolire Lake and the Hiri Island
TIDORE & MARE – less visited but very authentic (cloves, nutmeg, gorgeous pottery), traditional villages and terrific dive sites
MOROTAI – considered as the most gorgeous, there are numerous uninhabited isles sand bars mostly visited by independent sailors and yachters, e.g. Dodola, Kokoya and Zum-Zum Islands. The finest beaches are around Daruba
BACAN & OBI – little visited but very beautiful, many islands are uninhabited with no roads and no infrastructure (pristine rainforest, waterfalls, caves and unspoiled beaches), sea gipsy communities live around Obi
SULA – the virgin islands of Sula are often said to resemble the Maldives. This tiny archipelago offers idyllic scenery: rare exotic birds, aquamarine shallows, long white stretches lined with coconut palms and the ultimate peace
WHAT ISLANDS TO VISIT IN CENTRAL MALUKU
BANDA – the volcanic archipelago of Banda is often said to be the ‘Pearl of Maluku’, tourism here promotes colonial architecture, historic forts, cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, volcanoes and outstanding underwater world
AMBON – the most important island in Maluku, a former Dutch colony and a battlefront during the WWII (sightseeing, tropical rainforest, active volcanoes, hot springs, white powdery beaches and fantastic diving sites)
SERAM – a large island with spectacular coastline and natural attractions, the highest mountain is Gunung Binaya (3027 m), and it offers excellent hiking opportunities. Jungle trekking and eco-tourism are increasingly popular, e.g. the Sawai village. The highlight is the Ora Beach Eco Resort is said to have a ‘Tahiti Look’ – private overwater bungalows are built amidst a secluded lagoon, right above crystal-clear shallows filled with corals
SAPARUA & HARUKU – little-visited islands typical of traditional villages, churches, markets, laid-back lifestyle and fine sandy beaches. There are many pleasant eco-homesteads and excellent snorkelling just off-shore. Pulau Pombo and Pulau Molana is one of the most beautiful atolls in Maluku
BURU – a developing eco-region with scenic landscapes and idyllic beaches, very good free-diving sites
WHAT ISLANDS TO VISIT IN SOUTH MALUKU
KAI & TAYANDO – the Kai archipelago is regarded as the most marvellous and best accessible. Dullah-Tual and Langgur Islands are the main islands with good tourism infrastructure and an airport.
There are numerous uninhabited isles, sandbars and atolls and the best way to explore them is island hopping:
Kai Kecil – epic beaches, springs, caves, coastal villages, offshore island hopping
Kai Besar – rainforest walking tracks, birdlife spotting, marvellous beaches
Tanimbar Kei – traditional villages, waterfalls, jungle trekking, secluded beaches
Ngur Tavur Beach – a sand strip on a marvellous desert island
Adranan Island – camping on a secluded beach is a great experience
Bair Island – jumping off the cliff into crystal-clear aquamarine water is the highlight!
Tayando Islands – the main islands offer brilliant snorkelling, and plentiful uninhabited dream islands can be found around
ARU – Aru Islands share the Arafura Sea with New Guinea, it is the easternmost region of Maluku, and the archipelago is covered with tropical broadleaf forest, savanna and mangroves. Major attractions are: bird spotting (bird of paradise, cockatoo), wildlife (cassowary, tree kangaroo), snorkelling and scuba diving & eco-tourism
TANIMBAR & LUANG – a very remote archipelago, popular with independent sailors (fine beaches, virgin nature, exotic birds, traditional villages)
WETAR & ALOR – some of the most magnificent sailing destinations situated near Timor, islands are fringed by coral reefs and turquoise shallows (waterfalls, diving & snorkelling, whale watching (Roma, Damer, Leti and Babar Islands)
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.
NOTE the best way to move around Maluku is to sail your own ship.
For all domestic Indonesian flights check out www.garuda-indonesia.com
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