Monday, 3 October 2011

Banda Neira : One of the best dive spots in the world

Banda Islands, located 132 km southeast of Ambon,Maluku. The islands are remote but very beautiful. Banda Islands are one of the destinations of Indonesia's most popular for divers, both expert and novice divers. All can dive from the shallow lagoon between Bandaneira and Gunung Api to the vertical walls of Hatta Island. With colorful coral reefs, warm waters and exotic marine life. Banda is a paradise for divers , from around the world to explore the most remote dive sites , and very natural in the world for its beautiful corals and marine life. The Banda Sea in three years ago was elected to World Heritage Area for underwater paradise in Indonesia, defeating marine parks Raja Ampat archipelago (West Papua), Bunaken (North Sulawesi), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi) and Berau (East Kalimantan).


Banda Islands at the edge of Ocean trench in Banda Sea Indonesia. In some places, the water depth is estimated to reach 6,500 meters. The depth of the Banda Sea is also influence the microbiology of life that live in the Banda sea, making a characteristic that is very different from the life of marine microbiology in Indonesia in other region . Microbiology in the Banda Sea being the primary nutrient-forming corals and other marine biota.

Hence, the life and coral growth in one of the diving locations that had been destroyed by the lava that erupted by Gunung Api Banda in 1989, it's now growing very fast, breaking the rationalization of the experts. Almost every island in the Banda islands surrounded by marine park and rich with colorful corals and various species of fish such as around the island of Naira, the island of Gunung Api, Lonthor island, the island of Ai, and island of Sjahrir Hatta.



In 2001 and 2002, the Conservancy did Ecological Studies in Banda Islands, the purpose is to gather information about marine resources in these islands. Initial research shows that the coral reefs in Banda has incredible biodiversity, with 310 species of reef-building coral, about 871 species of fish, as well as sharks and grouper populations are very high. Banda Islands, later posed as a World Heritage Area. Some rare fish in the world can still be encountered in these area, such as Napoleon fish, as well as Mandarin fish too that are famous for the beauty of its scales.



Major Banda Islands Dive Sites:

Sonegat
The nearest site for a decent dive is just five minutes by boat from most hotels. It is in the sonegat-sea arm-between Banda Neira and Gunung Api, just offshore from a Des Alwi's little seaside house. The drop off here is STEEP and the wall extends down 25 meters to a gray, sandy bottom. There are plenty of good sized dogtooth tuna cruising by and some beautiful blue girdled and emperor angelfish.

Keraka Island
Island Keraka or Crab Island is just a Few minutes Further out, and Protects the north entrance of the Neira - Gunung Api sea passage. A nice sandy stretch on the north coast is perfect for a picnic. At the south shore, 18 meters down Will you find a mini-wall covered with Hundreds of large blue-and-yellow tunicates. To the east shore, there are a good assortment of reef fish and a school of half meter long Barracudas.

Sjahrir Island and Stone Vessel
Sjahrir Island, formerly known as Pisang Island (Banana Island) and Stone Vessel (Boat Stone) are just 20 minutes by boat from Bandaneira. These two sites combine well for a morning dive, a picnic on the beach, and an afternoon dive.

Lontar Island
The outer edge of Lontar Island, the which represents part of the rim of a sunken caldera, offers Several good dive sites.

Holland Stone
On this site, you Will find many barrel and tube sponges and small caves and cracks. The fish are Varied and plentiful, including a school of snappers, large emperor and blue-girdled angelfish, wrasses, a large pinnate bat-fish and numerous bannerfish.

Ai Island
Together with Hatta Island, this island offers best diving Bandas. Both the north coast and the southwest of Ai are ringed with flawless coral walls, the which are rugged and full of caves, the kind of habitat that harbors fish That.

Hatta Island
This island is about 25 miles by sea from Banda Neira. Skaru atoll, is a barely submerged reef A Few hundred meters off the southern point of Hatta. On a coral outcrop, watch the passing parade of unicornfish, Fusiliers, Jack Fish and Rainbow Runners, Whitetip Sharks (almost 2 meters long) and Dogtoothed Tuna, Napolean Wrasse, and Hawksbill Turtles.

World-class divers was acknowledge and consider the Banda Sea is one of the best dive spots in the world. Once upon a time, the eruption of Gunung Api destroyed most coral reefs in the Great Banda Island. But according research of UNESCO, as a result of this phenomenon , actually triggered the growth of coral reefs in this place , to be the fastest in the world . Because of it , the growth of coral reefs in these waters is only takes less than ten years. Though normally, the coral reefs is estimated to grow within a period of 75 years.



How to get there :

The easiest way to reach the Banda’s is to first go to Ambon. Ambon is the capital city of Ambon island, located 132 km north of the Bandas. To get to Ambon you can fly either directly from Denpasar-Bali, or transit in Ujung Pandang. Garuda Indonesia flies from Jakarta (CGK) transiting in Hasanuddin-Makassar airport, or Denpasar- Bali (DPS) transiting in Ujung Pandang (UPG) to Ambon’s Pattimura Airport (AMQ). Other flights are from Langur-Central Maluku (LUV), Juanda-Surabaya (SUB), and Jeffman-Sorong, Papua (SOQ).

Lion Air, Batavia Air, and Mandala Airlines serve Ambon-Jakarta, with transit in Makassar or Surabaya.

From Ambon, you can get to the Banda Islands either by a chartered small plane or using Merpati Airlines flying to Bandaneira. There is no round-trip flight available. The returning flight must be reserved in Bandaneira. The flight operates once a week or every two weeks. This limited accessibility means that one you do get there, you won’t see many other tourists around. Hence, it is an ideal hideaway.
Alternatively, you can cross the Banda Sea by ferry. Pelni provides a twice weekly ferry by KM Ciremai liner from Ambon to Bandaneira. Make sure you double check the schedule for and unforeseen changes.




Where to stay

Mutiara Guesthouse, +62,813 30,343,377.
Mutiara Guesthouse has nicely furnished and clean rooms. It has common spacy rooms and a lovely courtyard. The owner speaks fluent Bahasa Abba and some German / Dutch. There is a highly recommendable dinner buffets for Rp. 50,000 per person. Room rates are incl. breakfast: AC Room Double Rp 125.000; Fan Room Double Rp 90.000; Fan Room Single Rp 70.000.

Vita Guesthouse, +62,819 45,090,110.
This guesthouse is located at the Waterside facing Gunung Api. The jetty is a wonderful hangout place and Alan, the manager of this home stay, provides lots of useful information about the Bandas and activities in Bahasa language. Snorkeling gear rental and boat charter easily available from the private jetty. The dinner (Rp 50,000 per person) is very tasty. Room rates are incl. breakfast: Double Room Fan Rp 80.000; AC Room Double Rp 100,000.

Hotel Maulana
This pseudocolonial style palace hotel has a lovely Verandah overlooking the waterfront ketapang the between Palms and shaggy trees, with the best views from the top-floor suites (no elevators). However, room decor lacks personality, and cleaning and service seem a little haphazard given the prices (negotiable). Save $ 10 for single occupancy. Save another $ 10 for rooms at the Laguna Inn annex, the which has similar pros and cons.


Up until the middle of the 19th century this was the only place on earth where the spices nutmeg and mace could be found and as a result they were crucial hub for the spice trade. Foreign visitors are therefore nothing new, but these days the intrepid visitors come not to trade for spice and fill their ships with booty, rather to photograph marine life both large and small and wonder at the richness of the local seas.

Tips 

1. Diving is possible throughout the year, but during the rainy season (July to September), you are restricted to choose a place to dive. More information is available on the official website of the local government of Maluku (www.malukuprov.go.id).
2. To get other information about the tours on the island of Banda, you can visit the Tourist Information Office in Jalan Raya Pattimura 1, Ambon, Phone 62 911 5247 1 or 62 911 9712 6.
3. There are no Money machines around the Banda Islands, including the Bandaneira so prepare cash before visiting the island. It is advisable to save money in a safe place, especially when you are around the harbor.
4. Telecommunications providers are limited to Telkomsel and XL. You can fill in Bandaneira pulses.
5. Novice divers are encouraged to be more careful for safety because ocean currents can be strong in some places.
6. Diving is usually comfortable with visibility about 15-30 feet in calm water conditions, but some dive sites are only suitable for experienced divers. So it is important to your supervisor for advice.
7. The depth of the dive sites ranging from 5 meters to more than 40 meters with a temperature of 26-29 degrees Celsius. So make sure you are physically fit.
8. Try to rent diving and snorkeling equipment from reputable companies to guarantee security. Responsibility to check the equipment is ultimately yours.
9. Bring a swimsuit and more clothes.

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