Banda Islands


The Banda Islands are a group of small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea about 2,000km east of Java, and are part of the Indonesian province of Maluku.

Until the mid 19th Century the Banda Islands were the world’s only source of the spices nutmeg and mace and as such were hugely valuable to colonialists including the Portuguese, Dutch and British who have all left their mark here.

The islands are also superb destinations for scuba diving and snorkelling. 


In order to secure control of the nutmeg trade in the early 1600s, the Dutch built their first fort on the island of Banda - Fort Nassau. This followed an attempt by the Portuguese to secure the location, which failed due to hostile local inhabitants. The fort served as the main military and administrative base of the Dutch in the Banda Islands for many years.


in 1611, the first director-general of the Dutch East Indies ordered a larger fort, Fort Belgica, to be constructed behind Fort Nassau to fortify the hill. It was surrendered to the British in 1796, then returned to the Dutch only to be captured again by the British in 1810.


Sulphur clouds can be seen escaping from the vents in the crust of this gently active volcano, which offers an easy trek up and panoramic views of the whole of the Banda Islands.  


The Dutch were so keen to control the rare nutmeg plantations, they gave the British the island of Manhattan (then New Amsterdam) in exchange for Run Island in 1677. Divers will enjoy its coral wall dives. 


A dramatic rocky outcrop that is home to thousands of frigate birds. Hammerhead sharks are commonly seen here and the reef has great snorkelling. 

We see more sperm whales in our crossing of the Banda Sea than pilot lights from other boats.
— Sophy Roberts, Financial Times
We explore the sleepy streets with a Pied Piper’s gaggle of children in tow... Abandoned since Indonesian independence in the 1940s, the once-grand mansions of the nutmeg-plantation owners... have mostly reverted back to jungle.
— Catherine Fairweather, Harper's Bazaar