Maluku


The over 1,000 islands Maluku are sprawled across a vast expanse of ocean, sitting astride one of the worlds most volatile volcanic belts. Maluku is blessed with incredible sea gardens, idyllic, tropical beaches and rugged, forest-coated volcanic mountains.

These are the famous Spice Islands', which drew Indian, Chinese, Arab and eventually European traders in search of clove and nutmeg . In 1511, the Portuguese built their first fort in the area on the island of Ternate, and cornered the clove trade. The Dutch, who arrived in 1599, mounted the first serious threat to Portuguese control of Muluku's treasures. Armed conflicts broke out, taking a heavy toll from the island populations as well as the rival European powers. When the Dutch finally emerged as victors they enforced their trade monopoly with an iron fist. Whole villages were razed to the ground and thousands of islanders died, especially on the island of Banda.

The British briefly occupied Maluku during the Napoleonic Wars, but Dutch rule was restored in 1814 and it wasn't until 1863 that the compulsory cultivation of spices was abolished in the province. Now fish and other sea products are Maluku's major sources of revenue, but nickel, oil, mnganese and various kinds of timber also contribute to the province's wealth.

The main gateway into Maluku is through the provincial capital of Ambon, which is served by regular flights to most part of the archipelago. Air and sea transportation connects the islands with 79 seaports and 25 airports. Roads on many of the islands provide access to the more remote places of interest.

Other places of interest:

Ambon Beaches and coral Reef
Ternate Morotai Island
Banda Ceram Island

Ambon

Ambon, the provincial capital of Maluku, is built on a hillside overlooking the bay. It has a number of interesting historical and cultural sites, among them the remnants of forts built by the Dutch East Indies Company during the heyday of the spice trade. The ruins of the Portuguese fort at Hila are almost entirely hidden beneath the contorted roots of a giant Banyan tree. The ANZAC War Cemetery near Ambon town is the site of services held every year on April 25, to commemorate the Allied soldiers who died in the region during World War II. The Museum Siwa Lima has a fine collection of local arts and crafts. Amhon is at the Maluku end of the annual yacht race between Darwin, Australia and Ambon. The race usually takes place in July and August.

Other Places of Interest

 

Beaches and coral Reef

Good beaches with coral reefs just off shore are found around Hunimoa, Latuhalat and Namalatu beaches on Ambon. Namalatu has the nicest beach and a hike to Latuhalat will take you to some excellent secluded coves.

Other Places of Interest

 

Ternate

Ternate, an island in northern Maluku, was once the seat of the most important kingdom made rich by the spice trade. The Portuguese, the Spanish and the Dutch vied with each other for influence on this island. A stronghold of Islam in the otherwise predominantly Christian province of Maluku, Ternate nevertheless carries the clear imprints of both its pre-Islamic past and its period of contact with the West, especially the Portuguese. The old sultan's palace in Ternate is now a museum. In the vicinity are the ruins of Old Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch forts. The remnants of the Dutch Fort Orange are right in town. About five kilometers west of the town, on the slopes the 1,715 meter Api Gamalama volcano is Afo, with its giant clove tree, said to be more than 360 years old and the ancestor of all cloves trees in the world.

Other Places of Interest

 

Morotai Island

Just off Hahnahera's northern arm, Morotai was an important airbase during World War II, first for the Allies and later for the Japanese. The ghosts of war still linger in this area, where many wrecks of aircraft and rusting guns lie abandoned in the bushes.

Other Places of Interest

 

Banda

The Banda group, about 132 kilometers southeast of Ambon, consists of three larger islands and seven smaller ones, perched on the rim of Indonesia's deepest sea, the Banda Sea. Near Manuk Island the water reaches a depth of more than 6,500 meters. Gunung Api Island is an active volcano, the last major eruption occurred only a few years ago. The seas around Banda are the site of the famous Maluku sea gardens with their fantasyland coral reefs and kaleidoscopic array of multi-colored fish darting through the crystal-clear water. Pulau Karaka, Pulau Pisang and Pulau Ai are particularly well-known for their amazing snorkeling and diving. Facilities for sightseeing, snorkeling and skin diving as well as clean, comfortable cottages are available on some islands.

Banda was home to some of the bloodiest episodes of Maluku's history. In 1609 the Dutch East Indies Company dispatched a new governor-general to the islands to obtain the contested spice trade monopoly at any cost. Confronted by superior power, the people of Banda were forced to allow the company to establish a fort, but in that same year Governor Verhoeff was killed, together with 45 of his men. The Company retaliated, but peace was not restored. In 1619, V 0. C. Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen arrived at the head of a penal expedition and exterminated the entire population of Banda. The land was divided into lots, called "perken", and given to former company employees, the "perkiniers", who were obliged to grow nutmeg and sell them at predetermined prices to the company. Slaves did the actual work in the fields The old "perkenier house",. or what is left of them, and old churches still retain a peculiar colonial character to the port town of Bandeniera today. Two old forts Belgica and Nassau are inside the town limits. Others are found elsewhere on the island. See also the former Dutch Governor's mansion, the museum of History in Niera, and the huge nutmeg plantation nearby.

Other Places of Interest

 

Ceram Island

The second largest island in Maluku, Ceram is virtually untouched because of its wild, rugged interior: Ceram recieves a lot of rain throughout the year, and is a birdwatcher's paradise. Trekking in the Manusela National Park is about as far off the beaten track as you can get in Indonesia, the park recieves fewer visitors than Baliem Valley in Irian Jaya. Accommodation and information are most readily available on the 'heavily populated' south coast. The North coast boasts some of the best snorkeling in all Maluku at Asele, one hour east of Wahai.

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