Banda Neira is one of many volcanic islands that form the world-renowned Banda Archipelago.
The island has a length of about 2.1 miles (3.3 kilometers) and a width of 0.81 miles (1.3 kilometers), with Mount Papenberg as the highest elevation at 820 ft (250 meters). It is situated around 99 miles (160 kilometers) south of the island of Seram. The reef is at the heart of the Banda Islands group, with Lontor is around 1.5 km to the south, and the nearby island of Banda Api is around 100 meters west. Lontor, Banda Api, and Banda Neira form the rim of a swamped caldera with a diameter of around six kilometers.
Top Attractions in Banda Neira
A traditional star fort, the Unesco-nominated Benteng Belgica, was constructed on the mountain above Benteng Nassau in 1611 CE when it became clear the lower bastion was an inadequate defense. The five extensive sharp-pointed fortifications were crafted to divert the cannon fire of a potential English naval shelling. Here, don’t forget to explore the old jail, where natives were jailed if they dared sell any of their spices to the invading English.
Bandaneira’s small museum displays colonial artifacts, including silverware, coins, pipes, crockery, swords, and muskets, and a flintlock pistol. There’s also a smatter of Bandanese stuff, including the machete (parang) and helmet (kapsete) used in the Cakalele (the dance once offered by up to 50 young males that went undercover following the 1621 CE massacre). It’s a must-visit for museum fanatics.
Sun Tien Kong Chinese Temple
A few Chinese families live on Bandaneira, and the 350-year-old Sun Tien Kong Temple is a shred of evidence of the old Chinese involvement in the Banda spice trade network. Ask for the key if you wish to go indoors at the Chinese-run grocery shop almost opposite.
Of three early-20th-century CE’ exile houses’ in Banda, Mohammed Hatta’s home is the most beautiful. It’s not completely furnished, and photos of the rebel, his typewriter, unique spectacles, and skillfully folded suit are all on exhibit. In the yard, where there are old clay cisterns and an old brick well burgeoning with bromeliads, you’ll also find a house that Hatta established during his exile. Ask at your guesthouse to meet with the key-holder.
Top Things to do in Banda Neira
- Diving: Dive in one of the many beaches around Banda Neira.
- Snorkeling: It is an excellent adventure to explore here. While snorkeling, you are sure to find breathtaking pinnacles, thick walls with impressive swim-throughs, and tightly coral-covered slopes.
- Climb Gumung Api: This activity is exclusively for people who love strolling and hiking.