Diving in Maluku

* BANDA ISLAND * HALMAHERA

Diving in Maluku

Banda Island

Being among the most expensive real estate in the world, Banda Island surely has a long and fascinating story. Spices, foreign traders, wars and earthquakes have all featured heavily in their checkered past. The majority of the inhabitants of the Banda region are descended from migrants and laborers who arrived from various different parts of Indonesia and mixed with the indigenous population.

The main language of the greater area is Ambones Malay; however the more local dialect with its Dutch influences and singsong character sets it apart. The two main sources of remain employment is Agriculture and fishing. Nutmeg, the major source of Banda's fame, is still an important crop to this day, as are cloves and bananas. The sea is also an important source of employment with tuna and, increasingly, scuba divers represent a considerable source of income.

It is little wonder that the Banda region is considered one of the finest dive destinations on the world. The Banda Sea lies more or less in the middle of the sprawling mass of islands that comprise Indonesia, lapping the shores of Sulawesi to the east, Alor to the south and with Irian Jaya to the west.

Banda Island Dive Sites

AL ISLAND   |   SHRIMP ROCK   |   BATU PAYONG CAPE   |   SHIP ROCK   |   KARANG HATTA   |   VOLCANO   |   KARNOBOL

Banda Islands Dive Site

AL ISLAND

Al Island is an isolated low-lying island to the west of Banda Neira. It has some small limestone cliffs on its southern coastline and some pretty beaches on its northern shores. Due to its isolation, walls and deep waters, when the current is running, this Is one of the top dive sites in the Banda Islands for shark encounters. Hammerhead sharks are frequently seen, and thresher and silvertip sharks are occasionally sighted too. Wahoo and giant trevally visit the island, and chevron barracuda and blue fin trevally hunt here in large schools. Always a memorable occasion for any diver is the squadrons of mobula rays, sometime flying in formation up to 25 strong.   Back to top

Ai island and Shrimp Rock Dive Site

SHRIMP ROCK

Shrimp Rock or "Batu Udang" in Bahasa Indonesia, is on the south side of Ai Island. Your dive begins over a gentle sloping reef down to 13 meters; followed by a very steep slope anywhere down to 55 meters Black triggerfish and red tooth Triggerfish are everywhere, freely intermingling with each other. The deeper wall sections have yellow, brown and green soft corals, and lobe corals. White tip sharks, eagle rays and large schools of blue tail unicorn fish frequent this area. Hawksbill turtles rest on ledges or feed on the green sponges; Maori wrasse, pinnate batfish and black and white snappers are some of the prevalent larger fish species.   Back to top

BATU PAYONG CAPE

At Tanjung Batu Payong, or "Umbrella Rock Point", on the west coast of meters Ai Island, the wall is steeper and drops down to 60 meters. This part of the island has a few more barrel sponges, olive vase sponges, green tubestraea corals, gorgonian fans, and lots of crinoids in the shallows. Schools of rainbow runners often pull in to lunch on the blue and yellow fusiliers and blue dash fusiliers.   Back to top

Batfish in Batu Kapal

SHIP ROCK

Ship Rock or "Batu Kapal" gets its name from its large central pinnacle that breaks the Banda Sea's surface and looks not surprisingly like a ship. It lies to the north west of Pisang Island. The main features that make this site such a favorite are its interesting topography, and enormous gorgonian fans and barrel sponges. Batu Kapal is unique in the Banda Islands in that it is a series of pinnacles. The main pinnacle is quite large and slopes down to 22 meters. On its west and northern sides there are walls. From the bottom of this central pinnacle, you are then free to explore the deeper submerged pinnacles, one off to the southeast, one to the east, one to the northwest and a large boulder to the northeast. The overall area of Batu Kapal is much too large to cover in one dive.   Back to top

KARANG HATTA

Karang Hatta, or Sekaru meaning "shallow area", is a 500 meters wide atoll a couple of kilometers off the south coast of Hatta Island, named after the first vice president of Indonesia and one of the two prime intellectuals behind its campaign for independence, Mohammad Hatta. The southeast corner of the atoll is a good place to begin your dive as it generally has a southerly current, which attracts fish in their thousands. The sloping reef here allows you to dive at pretty much any depth, but 25 meters is where most of the action seems to take place; and what action it can be. At the end of the dive, you'll just make your way up to the atoll crown to complete your safety stop or to use up more air. There's lots of different species of hawkfish, soldierfish, groupers, and tube lip wrasse. Titan triggerfish are also common residents here, and the Bandanese version is little different in temperament from elsewhere, so beware the titan triggerfish when it's nesting.   Back to top

Blue Streak at Batu Kapal

VOLCANO

Volcano or "Gunung Api" is a small volcano island lying just across a small strait, to the west of Banda Neira. The best point to drop in to see Banda's wonder reef is the northern most flow of lava on north east coast of the island. Descending from the Banda Sea surface you are immediately struck by the awesome spectacle below you. In the shallows there are tiered table corals, warty finger corals, bottlebrush corals, acropora corals, then from 20 down to 35 meters cabbage leaf corals take over the scenery. Some of the table corals are as big as houses, the cabbage patches are more like fields, and the corals are so densely packed that there is hardly a spare space amongst them. Swimming along at depth, there's a good chance that you'll see large Napoleon wrasse, schools of round batfish and pinnate batfish. If upwelling conditions bring in murky plank tonic water, then you're in luck. Some of the Banda Islands more numerous pelagics are likely to visit. Mobula rays fed on the rich plankton, dogtooth tuna and blue trevally will hunt at the extreme of your vision, searching for stray fishes as easy prey. Gunung Api is a oncein-a-life time experience, and is a must see on any Banda Islands live aboard safari.   Back to top

Volacano and Karnobol Dive Site

KARNOBOL

Located just to the east of the largest island in the Banda Islands, Banda Besar, this site like many in the area offers the chance of diving among tremendous numbers of fish. Its name is derived from an old-fashioned Dutch club, which was used to beat to death many Bandanese people in an incident here several hundred years ago. Putting aside that useful piece of information, what makes Karnobol a unique dive site in the Banda Islands area are the big bommies, rocks and outcroppings that form interesting topography. As you descend down the steep slope dotted with immense and colorful gorgonians, sponges and soft corals, keep your eye out for the passing Napoleon fish and bump-headed parrotfish which frequent the area.   Back to top

Halmahera Dive Site

Halmahera

As one of Indonesia's most northerly islands, Halmahera islands is a part of North Maluku (Mollucas) Province of eastern Maluku Islands. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was generally within the sphere of influence of the powerful sultanate on the island of Ternate. It was the core of a larger region, called Moro that included the island and the coastline of Halmahera closest to Morotai to the south.

The island was the site of a Portuguese Jesuit mission in the mid-sixteenth century. Ternate and Halmahera resented the outpost for its proselytizing activities by the Muslim states, and managed to drive the mission from the island in 1571, as a part of a larger Portuguese retreat in the region. In the seventeenth century, Ternate further exerted its power over Morotai by repeatedly forcing major parts of the population to move off the land. It was here that the Americans started their allied invasions against he occupied Philippines and South Pacific Islands.

Reside on a small island close to Daruba, General Macarthur planned and coordinated countless air strikes, sea invasions and counterattacks against his enemies. The American-built Daruba Airfield has seven runways and can still be sighted today Due to the enormous amount of explosives, ammunition and guns still to be found in the shallow waters, the island remains out of bounds for the majority of foreigners who want to travel survey or dive here.

Several Second World War wrecks can still be explored in Tobello Bay, just south of Morotai on the island of Halmahera. Beaten track locations and totally unexplored, these sites are really off the map, predestined for all devoted adventurers and dedicated wreck divers. The region also offers an unparalleled " Robinson Crusoe" atmosphere, as there is —absolutely nothing apart from beautiful coral islands and pure nature.

Halmahera Dive Site

SOMOLA BAY

In Somola Bay, the tourists can find small islands that has mangroves tree on the stones and blue seawater In this area the tourists can canoeing and enjoy the beautiful of Somola. At certain time, many fish will enter this bay and stay at this bay. This beautiful area can be reached with the ship from Pune Beach, Galela District.   Back to top

Mangroves at Tagalaya Island Dive Site

TAGALAYA ISLAND

Tagalaya is one of the islands located in front of Tobelo town. The water is calm and crystal-clear and a white sand beach surrounds the entire island. A coral reef with rich and diver marine life is found at a depth of 2-10 meters off the coast of Tagalaya. Mangroves, growing out of white sand (not mud!) and surrounded by the coral make diving here a unique experience. You can also watch the locals fishing here.   Back to top

Tosimaru Ship Wreck Dive Site

SOSOL BEACH & TOSIMARU SHIP WRECK

Sosol Beach is the main tourist attraction in Malifut District. This 1 km long black sand beach is free of strong currents and becomes very wide at low tide. A unique attraction here is the wreck of Tosimaru, a WW Il Japanese cargo ship, visible from far away.   Back to top

TOBOTOBO SEA GARDEN

It is located in Toboto Village, Loloda District archipelago. This location has beautiful sea garden so, it very suitable location for having snorkeling or diving. In Tobotobo also has thousands bats that hang on the mangroves trees and also white and blue pigeon l s bath place.   Back to top

Rorangane Island Dive Site

RORANGANE ISLAND

Rorangane is one of the uninhabited islands of North Halmahera, located just IS minutes from Tobelo Harbor. The water is calm and crystal. Clear and a white sand beach surrounds the entire island. Besides offering good swimming, the coral reef, at a depth of 10-30 meters, makes this an ideal location for diving.   Back to top