Maluku

The Island

The major islands and island groups in Maluku are: Ambonia Island, Aru Islands, Babar Island, Barat Daya Islands (including Wetar Island), Banda Islands, Buru, Kei Islands, Leti Islands, Makian, Saparua, Seram, and the Tanimbar Islands.

Map of Maluku Islands
Fig. Islands of Maluku in yellow and red color. Yellow is North Maluku Province and red is Maluku Province.

What?

In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the islands of North Maluku was the sole source of cloves. The Dutch, Portuguese, and the local kingdoms including Ternate and Tidore fought each other for control of the lucrative trade in these spices.


Where?

The Maluku Islands are located on the Australian plate, lying east of Sulawesi (Celebes), west of New Guinea, and north of Timor.


Attractions?

Diving, hiking, snorkeling, birdwatching, culture.

Overview of Maluku

Also known as Spices Island (but this term has also been applied to other islands), Maluku has a long history to tell. Spices from the Archipelago had been finding their way into Europe since at least the Roman era. Shipping spices flow into Europe had always been controlled by the ocean-going Arabs and Shipping spices flow their Venetian trading partners. Nutmeg was particularly prized. It was touted not only as flavouring, but also as aphrodisiac and a plague cure. At times, it was worth more than it's weight in gold. In the mid-fifteenth century under the energetic patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese sailors began their efforts to tap into source of all these spices.

The People

The people of the Maluku have been sailors and traders for thousands of years. The earliest archaeological evidence of human occupation of the region is about 32,000 years old, but evidence of even older settlements in Australia may mean that Maluku had earlier visitors. Evidence of trade and occupation of many of the islands begins about 10,000 to 15,000 years later. The Maluku Islands were a cosmopolitan society, in that traders from across the region took residence in Maluku settlements, or in nearby enclaves, to conduct spice business.

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Beautiful mountain between Ternate and Tidore

Wildlife

Most of Maluku are part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both Eurasia and Australian plate. The island of Wallacea have never been linked to either Asia or Australia plate. And as result have a few mammals.

Native mammals in Maluku are small and nocturnal like the neighboring island in the west, Papua. There are marsupials mammals like the cute tarsiers, sugar gliders, and cuscuses. These nocturnal mammals chracterized by their big eyes to see and move in the dark.

Endemic birds has also abundant in Maluku especially in Halmahera. Cockatoos and parrots with colorful feathers are among the prominent birds here, despite their habitats gradually reduced by logging and hunters.




Diving in Central Maluku

In the Ambon and Saparua area, divers can find dive sites that are truly world class. Grey reef sharks, turtle, dozens of Napoleon Wrasse, including giant groupers, dogtooth tuna, black-spotted rays,barracuda, and lobsters you can find here.
Along with them, longfin bannerfish, black jacks, unicornfish, and lots of Thompson's surgeonfish. And also butterflyfish, angelfish, Moorish Idols, snappers, and rainbow runners. And some reported spotting the rare, lumbering dugongs here.

The northwest monsoon blows on and off from May through August, bringing occasional showers and rough seas for a few days. The southeast monsoon lasts from May through August, with long, heavy rains and wind-driven seas which can go on for weeks. But during this time, the north shores are still diveable. June is the area's wettest month averaging some 650 milimeters over 24 rainy days. Diurnal tides are between 2.2 and 2.3 meters. Usually (but not always) the fish life is best seen during the rising tide.

Read also » How to get to Banda Island