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Eastern Indonesia Series : The Maluku Islands

Updated on March 28, 2011

My country Indonesia is the biggest archipelago country in the world that I really love and proud of it. I know that my country still categorized as developt country and has many social, economy, and political problems but I have a faith that my country will survive and stand up as a great country. Indonesia is divided into three parts and time zones : West Indonesia, Central Indonesia, and East Indonesia. I'd like to tell you about East Indonesia (the time zone is GMT+9).

The Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands

Maluku Islands

Maluku Islands consist of two provinces : North Maluku Province and Maluku Province. North Maluku Province include : Ternate the main island, Bacan, Halmahera, Morotai, Obi Islands, Sula Islands, and Tidore.
The Maluku Province include : Ambon Island the main island, Aru Islands, Babar Islands, Banda Islands, Buru, Kai Islands, Kisar, Leti Islands, Seram, Tanimbar Islands, and Wetar. There are approximately 1000 islands in Maluku Islands.

Maluku islands also best known as Moluccas the Spice Islands. The main spice products are Nutmeg seed, Cloves and Pepper (that's the reason why the Dutch invaded us for 350 years wow..). Not only the Dutch, China, Arab, Spain, British and Portuguese are also in conflicts during the Spice Wars ( 1200 AD - 1500 AD ) and over 6,000 Bandanese people were killed during the Spice Wars.
Maluku Islands located on the Australian Plate and has tropical climate (wet and warm),  rainforest, and magnificent sea.  The word Maluku is from the Arabic's term Jazirat al-Muluk (the island of the kings).

VOC Ship
VOC Ship

Maluku Early History

The Portuguese conquered Maluku in the early sixteenth century and their influence was mostly felt in Maluku and Eastern Indonesia. Such as planting of Christianity, most of Eastern Indonesia people are Christian and Catholic. Many of Indonesian words are influenced by Portuguese like sabun (soap), Minggu (Sunday), bendera (flag) and many more. The family names in Maluku also influenced by Portuguese like De lima, Waas, da Costa, Dias, de Fretas, Gonsalves, Mendoza, Rodrigues, and da Silva. My husband has uncle with da Costa as the surname.

The Spanish took control of Ternate and Tidore. Missionary and Catholic Saint, Francis Xavier worked in Maluku in 1546–1547 among the people's of Ambon, Ternate and Morotai (or Moro), and laid the foundations for a permanent mission there. But the Arab traders also give big influence in Ternate and Tidore. That's the beginning of Islam in that area.

The Dutch arrived in 1599 and had conflict with Portuguese attempts to monopolise their traditional trade. After the Ambonese helped the Dutch to construct a fort at Hitu Larna, the Portuguese begun a campaign of retribution against which the Ambonese invited Dutch aid. After 1605 Frederik Houtman became the first Dutch governor of Ambon.
But after the Dutch established the VOC (Verenichde Oost Indische Companie) or The Dutch East India Company the rest of Maluku people felt uneasy under foreign control that monopolised all the trades.

When Japan arrived in 1942 during World War II the Maluku people began a campaign resistance againts Japan and also known as South Moluccan Brigade.

After the Round Table Conference Agreement in 1949 Maluku is become Indonesian region
After the Independence Day of Indonesia there were several riots happen in Maluku. First is the South Maluku Republic (lead by Dr Soumokil) which would like to sepatare from Indonesia and Second is the riot between Christian and Moslem in 1999-2003 that caused thousand of people died and thousand of houses and buildings burnt.

Thank God now the conditions are much much better and many people have reconstructed their lives back.

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Natsepa Beach in AmbonNatural Forest in Marsegu Island
Natsepa Beach in Ambon
Natsepa Beach in Ambon
Natural Forest in Marsegu Island
Natural Forest in Marsegu Island

Soya-soya Dance from Northern Maluku

Where To Go in Maluku

There are many exotic places to visit in this Islands.
Natural Tours

Natsepa Beach in Ambon, the magnificent beach that has been known since the 17th century. It took place in Suli Village, Central Maluku District, Ambon Island. This beach is about 18 km from Ambon City the capital city of Maluku Province. To get to this beach, you can go by public transportation about half hour from Ambon city.
The entrance fee is extremely cheap about USD 50 cents. Many local tourists love to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Baguala Bay while enjoy some coconut water, fried bananas, boiled corns and some local foods. Many years ago the Dutch tourists love to swim and enjoy this beach.

Natural Forest in Marsegu Island
This forest is not scary but really beautiful. Marsegu means bat in local language.This island has many bats. The forests in Marsegu island are divided into three parts Young Secunder Forest, Middle Secunder Forest, and Old Secunder Forest. The main plants are Gofasa (Vitex cofassus), Belo Hitam (Diospyros pilosanthera), Beringin (Ficus sp), Pepaya Hutan (Brachychiton discolor), Kuboha (Sterculia ceramica), Mangga Berabu (Cerbera manghas), and Kayu Batu (Maranthes co). Almost half of this island is mangrove forest.

It located in Western Seram District, Central Maluku. There is no entrance fee. From Ambon you could go to Hunimua with public transportation, from Hunimua to Waipirit by boat about one hour and a half. From Waipirit to Pelita Jaya about 56 km. Then to the forest area in Marsegu island about 5 km approximately. The tourists could enjoy seafood (you can get it yourself by fishing or buy from local people)

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Banda Under Water Life indocruises.comThe Binaiya Montain
Banda Under Water Life
Banda Under Water Life
The Binaiya Montain
The Binaiya Montain

The Under Water Life in Banda Sea
Tourist used to swim, snorkeling, diving, watch the ocean garden from the boat, fishing the tuna and Cakalang fish (I love Cakalang, I used to bake it or make some soup from it), watching whales, dolphins, seagulls, and watching boat race competition (or in local word Arombai Manggurebe). The ocean tours usually occur in March, April, May, September, October, and November.

Banda under water ocean park has more than 350 species including ancient corals and many kinds of fish. Banda under water park lies among Neira Island, Gunung Api Island, Ai Island, Sjahrir Island, and Hatta Island. In the Central Maluku Region. Tourist could visit this under water park by boat from Ambon in one night travel (about USD 10) There is no entrance fee in the area. There are also many souvenirs and guest houses for tourists.

Binaiya Mountain
This is the highest mountain in Maluku Province. This is a unique mountain because it stand from 0 m to 3,055 m below sea surface. There are many rivers below the mountain that spread 6-8 m wide. From Ambon to Tulehu Port by bus about USD 2, from Tulehu go to Seram Island (Wahai Port) by speedboat about USD 6, from Wahai to Kanikeh village for six hours by public transportation. Kanikeh is the last village before you enter the mountain area. No entrance fee is needed.

For tourists or climbers have to prepare the equipment themselves. There is no equipment stores only a few traditional houses to spend the night.


The Cultural Tours

Cakalele Dance
It's a traditional dance from Haruku Island, Central Maluku. It is a ceremonial and official dance for honoring important guests. From Ambon to Tulehu by bus then by speedboat to Haruku Island for 30 minutes. (USD 4).There is no entrance fee. Tourists could stay at local guest houses.

The Katreji Dance
It's an aculturation dance from European cultures (Portuguese and Dutch) Just like a waltz dance. It's for socialized.

Terine Mamae
It's a traditional game that usually played by young people in certain days. It's from Central Maluku.

Kabaresi Dance
It is a dance that inspired by Maluku local heroine Chistina Martha Tiahahu. A really brave and patriotic woman who dares to stand againts the Dutch.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cakalele Dance  picasawebKatreji Dance www.buru.kab.govTerine Mamae www.buru.kab.govKabaresi Dance
Cakalele Dance  picasaweb
Cakalele Dance picasaweb
Katreji Dance
Katreji Dance
Terine Mamae
Terine Mamae
Kabaresi Dance
Kabaresi Dance
Victoria Fortress
Victoria Fortress

The Historical Buildings

Many fortress are built during Dutch and Portuguese invasion in Maluku such as :

Victoria Fortress
Lies in Sirimau District in Ambon. Built by Portuguese in 1775 and was taken by the Dutch. This fortress is used to be the Colonial Government Center and become the place to hang our local hero Pattimura in December 6, 1817.

Amsterdam Fortress
Amsterdam Fortress

Amsterdam Fortress
Was built in the early of 17th century by the Dutch. Located in Hila district in Ambon. You could reach this place by an hour car drive from Ambon. This fortress lies near the beautiful beach.

Belgica Fortress
Belgica Fortress

Belgica Fortress
Was built by VOC in 1611 and is rebuiled in 1991 under General L.B Moerdani helps. This fortress is become one of heritage culture by the UNESCO The Belgica Fortress is phisically similar with the Pentagon Building. Every corner of this fortress is completed by the defensive wall. It located in Bandaneira town, Banda Islands. In Central Maluku

There are still many historical buildings in Maluku Islands but I just write the most famous ones.

Maluku Traditional Culinary

Ikan Kuah Pala Banda (Banda Nutmeg Fish Soup) It's very tasty and rich in spices. I love this kind of food, I've tasted once but not from Bandaneira. It's from East Nusa Tenggara (My husband's birthplace). It's delicious. It taste little bit hot from the nutmeg, sour, and salty.

Sagu or Metroxylon sagus/rumphii is the main dishes in Maluku. The local people used to cook papeda (kind of sagu porridge, it's very sticky and does not have taste. They used to eat it with many kinds of dishes like cakalang fish, kohu kohu etc)

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Ikan Kuah Pala (Nutmeg Fish Soup)PapedaSide Dishes for Papeda
Ikan Kuah Pala (Nutmeg Fish Soup)
Ikan Kuah Pala (Nutmeg Fish Soup)
Side Dishes for Papeda
Side Dishes for Papeda
Maluku Traditional Cloth
Maluku Traditional Cloth

Traditional Cloth

There is a similarity between Maluku traditional cloth and East Nusa Tenggara traditional cloth. It is a kind of traditional woven cloth.

Maluku Traditional House - The Baeleo House
Maluku Traditional House - The Baeleo House


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have been researching model ships made of cloves for several years, without much luck. Finally, today I seem to have stumbled on the first substantial clue which has brought me to this site. I just read that these amazing clove ships were made by the Moluccas. The next step was of course to seach out the islands. This site has the best information; no site talks about native crafts.

      Do you know anything about clove ships, who made them, when were they made etc.

      I would be most grateful for any information!



    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Indonesia

      @Silver Fish, thank you. I'm glad if you love my country. Hope one day you'll visit Indonesia again.

      @ Professor Holmberg,

      Thank you so much for your nice comment. Yes, if you don't mind, you may send your photos to my E-mail :

      I will add them in my hub and give all credits to you Sir.

    • profile image

      Robert Holmberg 

      10 years ago

      I came across your site while looking for some information about the University of Pattimura's forest reserve in Seram. I worked at UNPATTI between 1993-95 with the Eastern Universities Development Project (EIUDP) and lived in Natsepa, next to the beach park. Your writing and photographs brought back fond memories. Unfortunately I lost contact with my Ambonese colleagues after the civil war. If you still want to add photos to your site, I can supply some.


      Robert Holmberg, Ph.D.

      Professor Emeritus, Biology

      Athabasca University

      Athabasca, Alberta



    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 

      10 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      I loved your hub, Indonesia is a remarkable country, such beauty, I was lucky to visit many islands including the Bandas.

      Thank you for reminding me of such happy memories.

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Indonesia

      @stephinie, thank you for the information!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Do you know if the hippocampus seahorse lives in the eastern indonisian islands. lots of detail please thanks!

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi James,

      Glad If you like it, I have another hub about Indonesia. But this time is Papua. Would u like to check it out ? Thank's :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Very nice history and tour of these fascinating islands. Thank you for providing this enjoyment.


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