Banda Sea – Spice Islands

Banda Sea Indonesia
The Banda Sea region

The Spice Islands are a remote archipelago in the Banda Sea which stretches from Sulawesi in the West to Tual and on to Raja Ampat in the East. The Spice Islands include Ambon, Banda Neira, Run, Buru, Seram and numerous other tiny uninhabited islets. Back in the 16th century, spices such as cloves, mace and nutmeg were valuable commodities and they only grew on these islands – hence the collective name of ‘The Spice Islands’.

Visit the island of Banda Neira which was once the only place of nutmeg and mace production. Stroll past centuries old nutmeg trees and stately Dutch architecture and visit Fort Belgica which was built by the Portuguese to protect the spice trade. Nearby is the tiny nutmeg growing island of Run which was traded by the British for the Dutch Island  of New Amsterdam – which is now Manhatten. The history behind these islands is as fascinating as it is, at times, unbelievable!


The Banda Sea

The Spice Islands and the Banda Sea sit in the heart of the Coral Triangle which is the richest marine environment on earth. While only covering 1.6% of the planet’s oceanic area, the region has 76% of all known coral species in the world. As a habitat for 52% of Indo-Pacific reef fishes and 37% of the world’s reef fishes, it encompasses the highest diversity of coral reef fishes. The vast ranging marine biodiversity surrounding the islands makes the Spice Islands an underwater paradise for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in an underwater world which is simply teeming with life and bursting with colour. The coral reefs here are vibrant and pristine.


Spice Island Cruise
Banda Neira children playing in the clear lagoon


Scuba Diving and Snorkeling the Banda Sea

Scuba divers who are keen to see some of Indonesia’s most unusual marine life (and underwater photographers) will love Ambon Island (Pulau Ambon in local dialect) where the sandy slopes are packed with unique critters, some of which are endemic to this region. If you are hoping to see larger species, the drop offs are perfect for spotting hammerheads, tuna and other pelagics in the blue. For those who prefer to relax on the water rather than under it, you’ll find no shortage of idyllic crystal clear lagoons and tranquil bays which are ideal for sea kayaking and paddle boarding. El Aleph is also equipped with water skis, donut ring (great fun for kids), scuba diving and snorkeling equipment.

As we cruise through this region there are opportunities to see oceanic dolphins and migrating whales (including blue whales and sperm whales).


Spice Islands diving
Scuba divers and snorkelers will find stunning coral reefs which are teeming with life


Trips Ashore in the Banda Sea

If you prefer to spend time on land, our tender (speedboat) is always on hand to take you to the shore. Picture perfect white sand beaches surround the tiny uninhabited islands of this remote region and there is no better way to end a day of cruising than with a beach barbecue beneath the starry night sky. When taking trips to shore on inhabited islands you’ll encounter friendly locals, living in the same way as their ancestors did 100 of years before them; friendly village children are curious about travelers from overseas and the spectacular natural scenery, wildlife and birdlife is simply breathtaking.

One of the wonderful highlights of cruising through the Spice Islands and the Banda Sea is the opportunity to see the spices growing and breathe in their rich aromas. Our chef will be delighted if you pick any spices or buy from the local farmers and he’ll happily incorporate these incredible flavours into your dishes for a real taste of the Spice Islands!

The locals in this region also have a close relationship with the sea. Whether it’s through fishing for sustenance, seaweed farming for a living or simply using the waterways as a transport system by traditional dug-out canoe.


Cruise Spice Islands
Discover the beauty of the Spice Islands


If you are hoping to cruise through a tropical paradise then the Spice Islands in the Banda Sea are full of promise with striking volcanic islands, virgin beaches and pristine coral reefs. This is a wonderful cruise for those who to get off the grid and explore a stunningly remote region.

If you have a taste for adventure and don’t want to compromise on the finer things in life, then a bespoke cruise the Banda Sea onboard el Aleph guarantees exemplary service, luxurious and spacious cabins, privacy, and of course – an incredible adventure for start to finish.

For reservations or enquiries, please contact us using our contact form –  or email us at; and we will promptly reply.

Please note that we are not a yacht agency — your enquiries will be addressed directly by el Aleph’s owner. All of our charters are custom designed to suit your tastes and interests. For your comfort and privacy, we accept bookings for full boat charter only — not by the cabin.