Banda is a compound where 13 small islands nestled; with its prominent islands are Banda Besar Island, Gunung Api Island, Run Island, Ay Island, and Pisang Island which also called Syahrir Island. In the 16th century, Banda was famous as the spice island and became the trade centre to the surrounding islands such as Ternate, Tidore, Aru, and West Papua. Some Indonesian prominent figure, namely Mohamad Hatta, Sjahrir, and Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo had live in exile in Banda during the Indonesian struggle for independence.
In 1978, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the legendary ocean explorer, arrived in Banda with his iconic research vessel, Calypso, to dive and filming the underwater jewel of Banda. There are more than 20 dive sites pinned around Banda. It can be said that, in general, dive sites in Banda are the one with the best coral cover in Indonesia, one of the best visibility in Indonesia and also one of the area in Indonesia where you actually dive just next to an active volcano
For instance is in Gunung Api Island, the volcanic eruption in 1988 had damaged the underwater environment. But nature has its own system and plan, it turned out that minerals that flown the ocean with the lava was very useful for corals regeneration. Hence the natural hazard gave birth to a new dive site called Lava Flow.
The pristine water of Banda may bless with abundance and healthy colorful corals covering the seabed, a view to kill for divers and underwater photographer, but the density level and the variety of fish are far from high. Don’t be sad! Banda is a heaven filled with mandarin fish that belong to the family of dragonet. Up at dawn for a sunrise dive and spend sunset to dusk underwater, you’ll see the unique fish with attractive colors and patterns come out from their cubicle just less 20 meters from the shore.
The ULTIMATE best OF BANDA Ring Of Fire
The Banda Sea stretches from Alor to the coast of West Papua. A string of islands in the south Maluku archipelago forms the southern border of the sea. Like Nusa Tenggara, these islands are part of the seismically active 'Ring of Fire.' The Banda Islands, formerly known as the Spice Islands, are in the central Banda Sea.
This little-visited area has some of the world's richest reefs bursting with unspoiled corals and pelagic fishes.
Diving in the remote Banda Sea is possible only by liveaboard. The route to and from West Papua is convenient for sailing and diving along the way. Stopovers at Wetar Island, the Damar, Banda and Lucipara Islands, and Koon Island off the coast of Seram, guarantee a pristine diving experience. This little-visited area has some of the world's richest reefs bursting with unspoiled corals and pelagic fishes.
The weather in this part of Indonesia is on a different cycle from the rest of the country. The best time to dive here is March-April and October-November when the water is calm and warm, 27º-30ºC (84-90ºF), and the visibility is 30-40m (100-130ft). The southeast monsoon (May-September) is wet, windy, and the water temperature drops to 25ºC (80ºF) due to strong upwellings in the area. Plankton blooms at this time reduce visibility to 15m (50ft). From December to
February the wind is not as strong but it is strong enough to make boat travel uncomfortable.
The Banda Islands have beautiful corals, big tuna and overhangs with big sponges and sea fans are the highlight. Walls, pinnacles and steep slopes, sometimes with strong currents, characterize the diving here. Rays and turtles are common visitors here. There is good macro life in the area. The Lucipara Islands area has good walls, schooling fishes, a few sharks and lots of soft corals. Mola-molas have been spotted here too. Koon Island, also called 'Too Many Fish,' this site is amazing because of all the fishes that hang out at the reef corner in the current.