Ambon Island

mini-ambon01200.jpgAmbon is the capital city of Maluku as well as the main administration point for the Moluccas. It was the centre of the spice trade in the 17th century, and is located off the much larger island of Seram. Ambon Island has retained many buildings of great historical significance, unfortunately a lot was bombed-out during The Second World War. Ambon is part of a chain of volcanic islands that form a circle around the Banda Sea. An irregular shaped island, it is 51 km long and seemingly almost divided into two. To the south-eastern and the smallest part of the island is a peninsula called Leitimor. This is connected to Hitoe in the north by a narrow stretch of land. Ambon city lies on the north-west of Leitimor, facing Hitoe. The harbour in Ambon is considered a safe harbour and named Amboyna Bay.

Ambon Island and most of Maluku are part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both the Asian and Australian continents resulting in the remote areas of the island being covered in mainly rainforests.

Economically, Ambon is mostly subsistence farming with the main crops being breadfruit, sugarcane, coffee, cocoa, pepper and cotton. At one time, the main export crops were nutmeg and cloves but now this has been limited. Other exports include Copra and the highly valued Amboina wood used mainly for ornamental woodwork.

Getting around the island is relatively easy with local transport the best and a great way to meet the friendly locals. Taxis, minibuses and becaks provide transportation in an around the city of Ambon.

Ambon’s airport is located on Ambon Island’s Hitu Peninsula and roughly 37 Klms from the city of Ambon. Get a taxi from the airport to the city takes about 45 minutes. Most of the major domestic airlines such as Garuda and Merpati service these routes and can be boarded from Bali or the main cities in Java.There is a ferry service you can utilise to get into Ambon city. This goes between Poka and Galala and is a relaxing journey. But if you are in a hurry then just grab a cab!

Diving and Snorkeling

mini-diving.jpgUndoubtedly the greatest attraction in Ambon Island is the diving and snorkelling. Ambon has some fantastic conditions and reefs with the dive sites of Latulahat, Eman Latu being the closet to the city and only 45 minutes away. The highlight of diving in Ambon is its underwater garden. Coral growth here is amazing, very healthy and virgin almost everywhere. Diversity is top notch. Large size sea fans, barrel sponges and table corals are abundant, indicating none or disturbances from human activities. In Pintu Kota and Hukurila there are caverns with walls and roofs covered in many hued soft corals. With visibility in the range of 25-30 meters in a normal day, wide angle photography of undersea garden is bound to be good here. Other dive locations are located in Nusa Tiga, a cluster of tiny islands in the western tip of Ambon, and in the southern tip of Seram, the bigger island located north of Ambon. These can be reached by about 1 hour of speed boat ride from Latuhalat. Further away, there are dive locations in Saparua, Molana and Nusa Laut islands to the east of Ambon, about 1.5 hours of speedboat ride from Latuhalat.

Here are a few dive sites you can check out for more info: