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Diving Banda and Lucipara Atoll | The Spice Islands | Indonesia

Once at the heart of the world due to the lucrative spice trade, scuba diving in this part of Indonesia is quite an experience as it is so unexplored.

Liveaboard routes vary but many start in Ambon then sail overnight to remote Lucipara Atoll. This exposed atoll is utterly pristine with virtually no damage and possibly the best soft corals in Indonesia. Walls are lush with brightly coloured fans, corals and sponges, all mobbed by schooling fish that often obliterate the views of the reef.

The boats then return to the tiny Banda Islands, where dive styles vary from fabulous, up-tempo muck right below Banda Neira pier to the newest of new coral slopes – thick staghorn and table corals that have covered the scar created by Gunung Api’s last explosion. Nearby, Batu Kapal has got to be one of the most impressive deep dives anyone is likely to see with fan corals that have grown to over five metres high.

Banda and Lucipara dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life Corals
Colman's shrimp
Moray eels
Bumphead parrotfish
Top dive site Banda Neira jetty
Seasons All year
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Manado, Bali
Flights to Manado then 1.5-2 hours internal flight
Dive operators and accommodation A liveaboard is best - search for current schedules.

The Banda Seas have gone in and out of favour as a tourist destination due to localised political unrest. Yet this region is historically one of the world's most important – the location of the famed Spice Islands. These islands were the sources of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, once the most valuable commodities on the planet.


Popular with divers until the civil unrest that ignited in 1999 in Ambon, this area has setled into an easy calm. While it has become easier to reach Ambon by plane, getting to Banda is still difficult. There are no land-based dive resorts on Banda so a liveaboard is best.


Visibility – stunning; currents – very few; rough water – only on the crossing to Lucipara. Big stuff, little stuff. Fantastic corals. As a comparison to better known Irian Jaya, there are perhaps slightly fewer species (although who would know that unless the same levels of research are done) and the topography isn't as varied. However, the reefs are pristine and the muck diving is definitely superior.

It had long been an ambition to dive the Spice Islands as the mystique of these far flung, historically important islands captivated us. Previous plans to dive the area had been aborted due to the civil war in the late 1990’s but we finally made it in 2007. We dived from the delightful Archipelago Adventurer, at the time the only vessel to consistently ply this route. Archipelago sadly is no more, but several others have started going this direction.
Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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