NORTH MALUKU, SPICE ISLANDS
North Maluku covers the northern part of Maluku Islands, which are split between it and Maluku Province. In the 16 century and 17 century the islands of North Maluku were the original Spice Islands. At the time, the region was the sole source of cloves. Here land makes up just 15% of the areas total surface. In many places the surrounding seas could be thousands of meters deep. A great variety of endemic plant and animal species are found in the rugged forest-covered and mountainous hinterlands of most of the islands.
The region sits astride one of the worlds most volatile volcanic belts and has more than 70 eruptions in the last 400 years. Many islands, in fact, look from a distance like volcanic cones rising right out of the sea.
Ternate is the provincial capital and is used as a base for exploring the rest of North Maluku.
MALUKU, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CENTRE
Maluku, sometimes referred to South Maluku, occupies broadly the central and southern parts of the Maluku Islands. It is lush and mountainous. Life in the province is centred around its main city and provincial capital of Ambon, which is on the small Ambon Island.
Built at the foot of Mount Nona, overlooking Ambon Bay, Ambon has a number of interesting historical and cultural sites. Among them are the remnants of some old forts built by the Dutch East Indies Company during the days of the spice trade. The ANZAC War Cemetery is the site of services held every year to commemorate the Allied soldiers who died in the region during World War II. During the month of August, the Darwin-Ambon Yacht Race takes place.
Ambon has many wonderful beaches and coral sea gardens, among them Batu Capeu Beach, Poka-Rumahtiga Beach, Tanjung Marthafons Beach and Amuhusa Beach on Ambon Bay. It is also the base hub for visiting some of Indonesias most enchanting islands – the Lease, Banda and Kei islands.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
An island off the west coast of Halmahera in northern Maluku, Ternate was once the seat of an important kingdom that prospered from the spice trade. The Portuguese, Spanish and the Dutch vied with each other for influence on this island. It was also a stronghold of Islam in the otherwise predominantly Christian province of Maluku. Today, Ternate carries remnants of both its pre-Islamic past and its period of contact with the West. The old sultans palace in Ternate town 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. A popular activity in this area is the clove-grove hike, available at the village of Air Tege Tege.
From the port of Bastiong, on Ternate, the volcanic profile of Tidore looks quite spectacular and is much photographed. Speedboats regularly connect Bastiong and Ternates town of Rum, departing throughout the day for the seven-minute journey. Soasio on the south-easterly coast and Tidore main resort, is steeped in his tory offering attractions such as its 17 century Spanish Benteng Tohula fortress, Sonyine Malige Sultans Memorial Museum and ruins of an ancient royal citadel.
Banda, about 132 kms southeast of Ambon, consists of three larger islands and seven smaller ones, perched on the rim of Indonesias deepest sea, the Banda Sea. Near the island of Manuk the water reaches a depth of more than 6,500 metres. This group of beautiful islands attract divers and snorkelers for its colourful underwater coral gardens especially in the waters of Pulau Hatta, Pulau Ai, Rhun and Banda Besar. The best beaches are on the southerly shore of Pulau Banda Besar (including Lonthoir), Pulau Ai, Pulau Neilaka and on the northerly coast of Pulau Hatta.
Kei Islands (Kai Islands)
The islands long sandy white beaches are the reasons for tourists going there. Tourist attractions include Bukit Kei Kecil on Pulau Kei Kecil, where an enormous statue of Christ has become an important sight of pilgrimage, especially during the Easter celebrations. The nearby village of Ohoidertawun features a scenic bay and some intriguing ancient rock carvings and paintings (petroglyphs) of unknown origins, and the 3km Pasir Panjang beach is a tourist paradise. Highly recommended are the scenic beaches on Pulau Kei Besar and outlying beaches, such as those of Pulau Kelapa that are just a short motor-canoe ride away.
Lease Islands are easily accessible and feature very beautiful bays, perfect for snorkelling. On the island of Pulau Saparua, the village of Kota Saparua is the main village and is where the 17 century Benteng Duurstede fortress is situated. Close by is a pleasant beach and small museum with information about the uprising of 1817, which was led by Thomas Matulessy (nicknamed Pattimura). Day trips to Pulau Haruku are popular, with attractions on this neighbouring island being centred on the village of Haruku including the Cakalele Monument, the New Hoorn Fort and the tranquil Pantai Lyanaen Beach.