JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Banda Neira is an island in a group of Banda Islands belongs to Central Maluku Regency of Maluku Province (the Moluccas).
Various literatures say Banda Neira or more familiar as Bandanaira has been known for centuries ago. Citing from bandanaira.net, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain, Portuguese and England fought over the Banda Islands which contain Banda Neira.
The site also said that until the end of 18th century, Banda Neira was the Archipelago’s first spices monopoly center. Banda-specialized spices were nutmeg, mace and coves.
The islands were the first dispute between VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or Dutch East Indies chamber of commerce) and Portuguese which reportedly lasted for 60 years. Banda Neira was known as main sources for high-value spices until mid-19th century.
Traces of a number of European countries present in Banda Neira remain visible until now. Putting into the category of historical tourism, Bandanaira.net noted that there is Fort Nassau (built by the Portuguese in 1529 then followed by the Dutch in 1608).
Although now no longer intact, there is also the Colombo fort built by the Dutch in the 18th century. This fortress castle served as traffic wardens for Dutch trading ships.
Next, Fort Belgica is known as The Pentagon of Indonesia. The VOC built the fort in 1611 on order from the Governor General Pieter Both. The fortress built to face Banda people's resistance against VOC’s nutmeg trading monopoly at the time, still stands even complete as of now.
There is also Mini Banda palace or residence of the VOC governor general built in 1622. Not only that, there remain some historical traces in the forms of buildings that seems to become silent witnesses to the Banda Neira journey where according to a record by pecintawisata in a wordpress page are Banda Neira Old Church (constructed in 1600) and a number of old houses.
A number of heritage houses from the Europeans at the time, was used as exile homes for Bung Hatta, Sutan Sjahrir, Tjipto Mangkunsumo and Iwa Kusuma Sumantri. Exile homes of those four figures in which their rights were confiscated at the time, have now become part of the history of Banda Neira travel. All equipment and appliances used, say, the typewriter Bung Hatta used during exile period of 1939-1942, is also exhibited.
However, Banda Neira is not only about spices and remaining historical traces of the arrival of a number of European nations to Indonesia, especially on the island. The island which faces directly with the Banda Api Volcano also has a charm of natural beauty and its underwater world.
No doubt, the underwater world of Banda Neira and the entire Banda Islands are one of the objectives on a must-visit area list for diving hobbyists or simply snorkeling. The sportourisms page mentions there are at least 30 diving points, namely, Batu Kapal, Pulau Hatta and Lava Flow.
Anyway, to reach Banda Neira, there are two alternatives. First, by aircraft; Jakarta-Ambon, Ambon-Banda Neira; Second, by ship from Jakarta directly to Banda Neira served by Pelni ship or also by the sea but from Ambon to Banda Neira.
In order to fully enjoy Banda Neira’s wealth and beauty, both on land and underwater, as well as to learn from previous journey experience, I suggested before traveling first check weather forecasts including ocean waves when going to Banda and also after arriving there.
Some said the best time to visit Banda Neira as negerisendiri website said is April to May and October to November. But especially for diving aficionados, keep monitoring weather information website which is released by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
Then it is not exaggerating if for me, Banda Neira and the Banda Islands, are parts of a piece of paradise in the east of the archipelago. Wish I were back in Banda Neira. (*)