A Travel Guide to the Spice Islands - Indonesia

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Maluku (Moluccas) or so-called “The Spice Islands” of Indonesia, are home to over 300 different species of plants. The name "Spice Islands" (derived from the Latin "Insulae de Spices") was introduced by European traders in the 1500s under King Louis XIV and has persisted today despite Indonesia's independence. 

These islands belong to a tropical region that offers perfect climate conditions for cultivating these precious herbal plants every year. The most famous spices are clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper. It's also home to one of the world's most diverse animal kingdoms found nowhere else on Earth! 

This chain of 1027  islands spans across an area in the Pacific Ocean near New Guinea. They are full of natural wonders, cultural diversity, biodiversity and incredible cuisine. The Spice Islands have been colonized by the Dutch for centuries. These islands were once home to many trading empires that transported goods throughout Asia

You can find Indonesia cruise packages that will take you to the heart of the Spice Islands allowing for an amazing experience, witnessing the life and culture of the locals. You will see different things here, from volcanoes to wildlife reserves, but be prepared for some intense humidity and tropical storms if you visit during the rainy season. The locals have their traditions and customs that can seem strange at times - just go with it because they're always happy to share their culture with visitors. 

Now let’s try to get you closer to the smell of the Spice Islands!

Interesting spots to visit in Spice Islands

#1 Ambon

Ambon is the capital of the Indonesian province of Maluku. There you can go surfing, snorkeling, fishing, diving and so on. The city center itself is a lively place to walk around in the evenings for delicious food and shopping which you can stroll down on foot or catch a becak. If you have vast traveling aspirations it also makes it easy to travel by train onward elsewhere from here too if you fancy!

Best bets? The Banda Mengkalap State Cultural Park, Ambo Hotel-Museum (a lovely way to experience Dutch architecture), and Fort Frederik Hendrik. And don't forget about trying out one of their famed Soto dishes during your stay! 

Ambon is still very much alive with different festivals and events held year-round for both avid travelers to experience as well as proud locals.

#2 Biak Island

Biak Island is the biggest Island in the Spice Islands group.

There are many things you can do on Biak Island. Dive into the water and explore the coral reefs, catch a wave, take a fishing trip to feed your family for dinner, or stay close to home and find so much more to do like cooking up some local cuisine with ingredients freshly grown here on the island. A must-see place is Punai Volcano, which is a 10-minute drive from town and offers tremendous views of Mount Tonda, Lake Tobinikolong, Konashenkano Strait and the Pacific Ocean.

You may even come across an elusive whooping crane and scout out the breathtakingly beautiful Coastal limestone caves used as a refuge during WWII.

#3 Historical landmarks - Forts 

The ruins of Fort Victoria are a popular tourist destination where visitors can see the remains of an old colonial outpost. 

Fort Victoria is a British fort built in Ambon. It is about 3 miles northwest of downtown Ambon. Major F. Bouverie first established the Fort on 3 October 1817 because he feared that other European nations might seize Dutch holdings in these seas, which then meant control of trade centers such as Ambon and Ternate. 

One of the most famous historical landmarks on all the Spice Islands, Fort Ferangi stands proudly near Matahan Bay and is a testament to the Portuguese victory against Dutch forces during the 17th century. Today, it's home to only one lighthouse which towers high over all of Matahan Bay.

History tells us that Fort Amsterdam was first built back in the early 1600s by a Dutchman named Jan Pieterszoon Coen. It played an important role in Dutch colonialism in Indonesia and formed the economic base of Holland's dominance over world trade for almost 200 years. The Fort has gotten its name after the largest city in the Netherlands.

For both Europeans and Asians, it was mostly known as a trading port to stock up on sugar, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, or other spices that would later be used to flavor their food or perfume themselves during festivals. 

#4 Beaches to Visit

All beaches in the spice islands are worth visiting. One of them is called Nemes and it's a beautiful white sand beach with amazing scenery. It's perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving! There are also some cheap restaurants nearby. If you're looking for something more secluded then make your way to the north coast of the island where there are plenty of deserted beaches that will give you peace from all the crowds on the south coast.

Then there is Sulamadaha Beach, which is in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia, which provides some idyllic holidaying possibilities. The name means "cooling the heat" or "going to a cooler place." As an underwater destination for snorkeling enthusiasts, it's also known for its many spotters of spectacular fish. If you enjoy sandy beaches and clear blue water, this Indonesian island should be your next travel destination!

Spice Islands are a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Visitors can explore the beautiful capital of Ambon, or visit the other amazing scattered lands that comprise this group named Spice Islands. It’s definitely worth visiting this amazing off-the-beaten-path destination that is yet to become a favorite getaway for many wanderlusts!