Maluku is also known as the Moluccas, and in the past it was also known as the “Spice Islands”. For years, explorers have sought out the elusive island for delicacies such as cloves, nutmeg and nutmeg grown here, and although Maluku is no longer one of Indonesia’s leading spice producers, if you’re looking for , it’s still a great tour to visit one of the less explored parts of this amazing archipelago.
Maluku Island is located in the eastern part of Sulawesi, across the Arafura Sea near Papua, and is one of the most remote places in Indonesia. “Maluku” is the name for a series of islands here, but within it you’ll also find smaller groups of islands that form their own little archipelago. The main reasons to visit include the opportunity to visit several beautiful national parks and enjoy some of the best diving in this part of the world. The waters here are crystal clear and full of marine life, and if history is your thing, you can also check out some of the area’s historical gems, many of which date back to World War II.
Here are the best places to visit in Maluku:
Ambon is one of the most developed places in Maluku and was a Dutch stronghold during colonial times.
Unfortunately, most of the original Dutch buildings here were destroyed during the war or when Ambon experienced infighting and civil unrest in the late 1990s, but one site that still exists is Benteng Victoria, a fort dating back to the 18th century.
But it is important to note that you are not allowed to take pictures of the fort unless you have a permit, but if you are looking for photo opportunities in Ambon then you can go to the beautiful mosques of Mesjid Al Fatah and Mejid James in Ambon.
2. Ceran Island
Pulau Seram has a rather shocking name because “seram” means “terrible” in Indonesian.
However, there is nothing to be afraid of on a trip to Seram Island, where you can visit the main city of Masohi, the capital of the Central Maluku province.
Some of the main attractions here include the Sangar Budaya Seram Museum, which will give you all the cultural and historical context of the area, and Teluk Sawai, a beautiful bay in the north of the island.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, head to Aura Beach and savor its traditional stilt bungalows.
3. Tanibar Islands
The Tanibar Islands are a small archipelago consisting of about 65 distinct islands located southeast of the main island of Maluku.
The largest island is Pulau Yamdena, which is covered in beautiful forests with rolling hillsides, where buffaloes roam, just as they have done for centuries.
The area is also known for its pristine sandy beaches, you can visit beautiful beaches such as Sangliat Dol, which can only be accessed by a 30-meter long granite staircase and ends on a wide stone platform where you can admire the breathtaking view Amazing water view.
This part of Maluku is well known on the domestic tourist route, so you can expect it to get very crowded during the holiday season in Indonesia.
North of Ambon, you’ll find the exquisite Ternate Island, the capital of North Maluku province.
As such, you can expect to find a bustling town here, which was once one of the main ports for the export of aromatic cloves, and the Dutch colonized the area in the 17th century, leaving some interesting colonial remnants behind.
Some of these include Benteng Oranje, a fort dating back to 1667 that still retains some ancient cannons that were installed here many years ago.
If you want to visit some of Ternate’s main religious sites, head to the main mosque on the outskirts of the city, which is said to have been built in the 15th century.
5. Manucera National Park
Located on Seram Island is one of Maluku’s main national parks, the Manucera National Park.
The area is known for being located in the Wallace Transition Zone, known for studying the evolution of a range of native species, and you’ll find around 2,000 different species of butterflies here.
There are also 120 different bird species and the park covers approximately 189,000 hectares.
Some other highlights of the park include two traditional villages, Wahai Village at the northern entrance to the park, and the beautiful Sanulo Village to the south.
6. Halmahera Island
Halmahera is the largest island in the Maluku archipelago and one of the most interesting to visit.
If hiking is your thing, this is the place to be, as you’ll find an array of volcanoes and pristine rainforest, including mangrove swamps and coconut palm groves.
You can easily get here by speedboat from Ternate, which takes about 40 minutes, and you should make sure not to miss highlights such as the dark sandy beaches of Merambatu and the charming traditional stilt houses in the village of Sidangoli.
7. Gunung Api Gamalama
Located on the island of Ternate, the main city of Ternate, Gunung Api Gamalama is a huge volcano that is still active.
The mountain is 1,700 meters high, and although it still smokes from time to time, you can still climb a long way to the top.
The most popular excursions in the area include the Lilac Trekking, which takes you to the side of a mountain where you can see how the cloves are grown and harvested, usually from the pretty village of Air Tege Tege.
8. Tidore Island
Easily accessible from neighbouring Ternate, the island of Tidore is well worth a visit as you can take a speedboat to the main resort area called Soasio.
As you might expect, you’ll find some beautiful beaches here, and if you venture into the city, you’ll also find many historical sites, such as the Benteng Tohula fortress built by the Spaniards in the 17th century.
History buffs should also not miss the Sonyine Malige Sultan Memorial Museum and the now elegantly crumbling former Royal Palace known as Istana Sultan.
9. Lava Flow
Lava flows are located in the waters off the Banda Islands, and if you want to try diving in Maluku, this is one of the best places to go.
As the name suggests, this is where the huge pools of solidified lava that erupted from Gunung Api in 1988 gathered, and this place is also known for its exquisite table corals.
The colourful corals can grow up to four metres and attract a variety of aquatic life such as sharks and mandarin fish.
Those with a penchant for macro photography will also find plenty of fun here, and you can catch mandarin fish indulging in mating rituals late at night.
10. Bakan Island
The capital of Bakan Island is Labha, and people come here for the relaxed seaside vibe.
The island overlooks a stunning bay and you’ll even find a traditional Dutch and Portuguese (at various times) fortresses called Bentang Barnevald in ruins but still well worth a visit.
Many people come here from neighbouring Ternate and you can easily hop over the course of the day to see everything you need to see before returning to Ternate in the evening.
Other highlights of the island include the traditional village of Kupal and the pebble beach of Sawadai.
11. Islands and reefs
Pulau Kei, also known as the Kei Islands, is one of the best places to go if you like long trips with white sandy beaches and azure waters.
Many travelers to Maluku choose the Ki Islands as their base as this is indeed one of the most scenic spots in Indonesia.
If you want to do some sightseeing here, be sure to come to the village of Ohoidertawun, which is famous for its caves and stone carvings as well as ancient cave paintings and is well worth a visit.
Another highlight of the tour is the trip to Pulau Kei Kecil, where you will find a huge statue of Jesus Christ, a popular pilgrimage site here, especially around Easter.
The town of Bandanella is located on Bandanella Island, itself part of the wider Banda Islands of Maluku.
It used to be a famous trading port and thus attracted the attention of the colonists who built two large forts here called Benteng Belgica and Benteng Nassau, well worth a visit for history buffs.
If you want to try snorkeling, head to the idyllic village of Tanah Rata, where you can enjoy all kinds of underwater fun and great views.
13. Blue Island
Buru Island is one of the most famous islands in Indonesia because it was a penal colony in the 1960s.
One of the most famous of these prisoners is the author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who wrote a series of books called Buru Quartet, which he told while imprisoned on the island.
You can now visit Bleu Island and enjoy some other attractions, such as the beautiful Jicumerasa Beach and Vaera Falls.
14. Island Rent
The Charter Islands are one of the easiest to visit in Maluku, and here you’ll find some of the best water sports in the area, including some great snorkeling.
One of the best islands in the collection is Pulau Saparua, which has a fort dating back to the 17th century called Benteng Duurstede and a fascinating museum where you can learn about all the uprisings that took place in 1817. This area is also famous for its pottery and visitors can even take pottery-making classes if you want to get your hands on it.
15. Banda Island
The Banda Archipelago consists of about ten islands and is generally considered the main island of the Maluku archipelago.
Famous for their scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, the islands are where you’ll find beautiful coral gardens, which is why many scuba enthusiasts brave the long journeys here.
Some of the best diving spots around the Banda Islands include Hatta Island, Koh Yai and Banda Besar, where the beaches are made up of long stretches of beautiful sand that descend back into the turquoise waters.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Maluku, Indonesia
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