The Banda Sea (Maluku -Ambon)
The Banda Sea stretches from Alor to the coast of West Papua. A string of islands in the south Maluku archipelago forms the southern border of the sea. Like Nusa Tenggara, these islands are part of the seismically active 'Ring of Fire.' The Banda Islands, formerly known as the Spice Islands, are in the central Banda Sea.
This little-visited area has some of the world's richest reefs bursting with unspoiled corals and pelagic fishes.
Diving in the remote Banda Sea is possible only by liveaboard. The route to and from West Papua is convenient for sailing and diving along the way. Stopovers at Wetar Island, the Damar, Banda and Lucipara Islands, and Koon Island off the coast of Seram, guarantee a pristine diving experience. This little-visited area has some of the world's richest reefs bursting with unspoiled corals and pelagic fishes.
The weather in this part of Indonesia is on a different cycle from the rest of the country. The best time to dive here is March-April and October-November when the water is calm and warm, 27º-30ºC (84-90ºF), and the visibility is 30-40m (100-130ft). The southeast monsoon (May-September) is wet, windy, and the water temperature drops to 25ºC (80ºF) due to strong upwellings in the area. Plankton blooms at this time reduce visibility to 15m (50ft). From December to February the wind is not as strong but it is strong enough to make boat travel uncomfortable.
The Banda Islands have beautiful corals, big tuna and overhangs with big sponges and sea fans are the highlight. Walls, pinnacles and steep slopes, sometimes with strong currents, characterize the diving here. Rays and turtles are common visitors here. There is good macro life in the area. The Lucipara Islands area has good walls, schooling fishes, a few sharks and lots of soft corals. Mola-molas have been spotted here too. Koon Island, also called 'Too Many Fish,' this site is amazing because of all the fishes that hang out at the reef corner in the current.
About the Authors
Larry and Denise Tackett are the authors of all of our Indonesian dive site and regional descriptions. They are professional photographers specializing in underwater and terrestrial natural history and travel subjects. They are represented by stock photo agencies in the US and United Kingdom and their photographs have been widely published in books and magazines worldwide. Their work has appeared in magazines such as National Wildlife, Islands, BBC Wildlife, Ocean Realm, Asian Diver, Unterwasser, Tauchen, Canadian Wildlife, Popular Science, Sport Diver, National Geographic Kids, Geo, and many others.