Once the islands' spice monopoly was broken, Maluku returned to gentle obscurity. Today, the region is a little-visited tropical paradise that seems almost too good to be true. Inter-island transport can prove infuriatingly inconvenient but with flexibility and patience, you can explore pristine reefs, stroll empty stretches of powdery white sand and climb perfectly formed volcanoes, while Maluku's complex web of cultures welcomes visitors with an effusive, gentle charm.
Into the mystic, Kamar, Maluku, Indonesia
This Indonesian hidden gem has marine life that rivals world-famous Raja Ampat in Papua and yet few tourists go there.
Discover this paradise destination before the rest of the world catches on. November to March is the best time to visit.
Maluku Islands: The Forgotten Gem In Indonesia.
1. Manusela National Park
Seram, the largest and among the least-known islands in Maluku, hovers over Ambon, Saparua, and Molana. Seram lies within the Wallacea Transitional Zone and is a key area for global studies on species evolution.
Paradise in Seram
The central Manusela National Park, which is home to 2,000 species of butterflies and moths and 120 species of birds, covers an area of 189,000 hectares (467,103 acres). Wahai village is the northern entrance to the park, and Sanulo village, overlooking the Bay of Teluti, is the southern gateway.
Ambon is one of the most developed places in Maluku and would have been a stronghold of the Dutch during the colonial period.
Unfortunately, much of the original Dutch architecture here was destroyed either during the war or in the late 1990s when Ambon experienced infighting and civil strife, but one site that still stands is Benteng Victoria which is a fort that dates from the 18th century.
Make sure to note however that you are not allowed to take photographs of the fort unless you have a permit, but if you are looking for photographic opportunities in Ambon then you can head to the pretty mosques in Ambon in the form of Mesjid Al Fatah and Mesjid Jame.
3. Enjoy world-class diving far off the beaten path
For a more immersive experience at Halmahera Island, try scuba diving. This largest island in the Maluku group has dive sites that offer drift diving, wall diving, pretty coral gardens, WWII wreck diving, and underwater volcanic formations.
You can look for tiny marine life under overhangs and on ledges, or swim-through natural rock formations bathed in sunlight from above.
This gem of Coral Triangle diving has over 600 fish species and around 450 coral species to discover, plus plentiful tiny seahorses, shrimp, and other critters in the coral reefs.
Meanwhile, Halmahera Straits' hammerheads and reef sharks are not to be missed by fans of bigger marine life.
In short, diving in Halmahera is as spectacular as famed Raja Ampat but with fewer dive crowds
4. Discover Ternate, where cloves made history
The Ternate and Tidore Islands have a rich history as the only source of cloves in the world during the 18th century, a time when Arab, Chinese and Javanese merchants visited for this strong, aromatic spice. Along with nutmeg from the Banda Islands, cloves were an important part of the Spice Islands trading power.
Breathtaking view of Kahatola waterfall in Ternate
Ternate is now the bustling capital city of North Makulu and is a modern hub with historic relics and a vibrant harbor perfect for people-watching.
Don’t miss the many food sellers lining the streets of Ternate’s business district if you’re a foodie. And to get your appetite going, hike up Gunung Api Gamalama volcano first and learn how cloves are grown and harvested.
5. Swim over a huge lava pool teeming with life
On May 9, 1988, a violent eruption shook the Banda Islands. Molten lava spread across precious fringing reefs, destroying everything as it went.
Twenty years later and the molten lava is now covered in thriving table corals up to 4 m in size, supporting the Maluku’s typically diverse reef life.
Swimming over the hardened lava flow at Banda Neira is recommended. You are likely to be surrounded by hundreds of fish species and have the chance to see groupers, turtles, and sharks.
Banda Neira is also a prime area for macro photography and for spotting delicate mandarin fish, reportedly the prettiest fish in the world, as they go about their mating ritual
6. Gunung Api Gamalama
Located on Ternate Island in the main city of Ternate is Gunung Api Gamalama which is a massive volcano that is still active.
The mountain towers to a height of 1,700 meters and although it still smolders from time to time you can still climb much of the way to the top.
The most popular excursions in the area include clove hikes which will take you to the sides of the mountain where you can see how cloves are grown and harvested and these usually leave from the pretty village of Air Tege Tege.
The town of Bandaneira is located on Pulau Bandaneira which is itself part of the wider Banda Islands in Maluku.
It used to be a famous trading port and as such attracted the attention of colonialists who built two large fortresses here called Benteng Belgica and Benteng Nassau which are well worth the trip for history buffs.
Aerial view Banda islands Moluccas Archipelago Indonesia
If you want to try some snorkeling then make for the idyllic village of Tanah Rata where you can enjoy a range of underwater delights and great visibility.