Enchanting Banda Neira

Banda Neira in the wonderful, romantic, Spice Islands, is one of those places that gets under your skin. It is enchanting and beguiling and unlike anywhere I have travelled before.

Situated in a cluster of six minuscule and isolated islets, in the middle of the Banda Sea, Banda Neira has survived a painful and bloody history since the fabled “spiceries” were discovered by the Portugese in 1512.

Overlooked by Gunung Api an active volcano, Banda Neira has no cars, a maze of narrow market lanes, a couple of broad streets from Dutch colonial days, a 17th Century fort that you can clamber over and climb up to the ramparts on rickety ladders and lovely, friendly people.

The entrance to the Banda Islands was simply wondrous. Steep, craggy cliffs, covered with palms and nutmeg trees, plunged dramatically into the sea.

Tracts of shimmering water intersected a profusion of green dotted with groups of small dwellings, many with bright blue roofs.

We passed through an entrance between two islands and headed for Banda Neira. As we approached we were told there was a space for us to tie up, stern in, in front of the famous Maulana Hotel.

Although we had seen plenty of photos of boats in the Mediterranean tied up like that, we had never encountered this in Australia so we prepared the boat with stern lines and plenty of fenders with some trepidation.

We needn’t have worried as we received lots of help from boats already tied up – Shakti and Kind of Blue – who came out on their dinghies to take our lines and shout instructions.

Finally we had the anchor down and the lines secured but not before we narrowly avoided a fish trap cunningly set just in front of where we decided to tie up!
One of the dinghy skippers kindly hooked it up and held it off while we slipped in but in doing so, he managed to get one of the trap’s lines tangled round the prop of his dinghy outboard motor!

One of the many FADs (fish attracting devices) in Indonesia – this one had a roof which made it easier to see!

After disentangling themselves our instructors came over for a well deserved beer.
One of the best things about these rallies is the support you receive from other yachties and the generous and gentle imparting of information to those of us who have not sailed round the world or spent many seasons cruising.
We are learning so much every day!
On our way to Banda Neira, about two hours into our voyage, we came across scores of fishing boats, each trailing fish traps. Having already had a close encounter with fish traps we were paranoid about getting tangled again.
We spent about four hours dodging this way and that to avoid the darned things – certainly helped the trip go fast though!
On this occasion it was our turn to help – we were able to guide another yacht following us through the maze of fish traps and boats. It was a good feeling to be the ones lending a hand for a change.

If you would like to read more about our trip to Banda go to


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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Enchanting Banda Neira”

  1. Lovely to see Banda again. Yes those stern anchorages in deep waters are amazing. Did you find any antique ceramics? I added to my collection there in 2008. Also bought my first Gekko Sarong which is still a feature of my Bali trips. I came to grief in Banda abseiling off the wall to get down to the dinghy to get to our boat Blitz. Probably cracked a few ribs whilst dangling like a pendulum from the rope tied around the palm tree!!!! the following few weeks were a little uncomfortable. It is lovely to follow your journey. Cheers Bronwyn


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