4th and final report – Banda to Ambon
With a dry day in front of us we start on a tour of the Banda Spice Fort. Learning about the stories of the islands and their key place in the history of Indonesia is a nice way to experience the local culture. After the tour it’s time for lunch and a bit of shopping. Locally produced jams and handicrafts are a popular souvenir to bring home. Having now hit the midday heat we retire to the waterfront restaurant, an old colonial house converted into a hotel. We sit in the shade overlooking the harbour and discuss what we’ve seen so far and what’s up next. The sun sets and the Jaya is restocked. We’re ready to get back in the water!
Hanging around the Banda area until the next day, we start our dives out on Pulau Hatta. Giant Napoleon wrasse, schooling batfish and curious turtles are some of the marine life we see. Later on, octopuses show off their colour changing skills and a moray doesn’t take to a photo session of its neighbouring leaf scorpionfish. We head back into Banda harbour for one of the more eagerly anticipated dives, a sunset dive with mandarin fish. We don’t need to dive deep to witness there colourful fish emerge from the rocks to put on a show. Left and right their mating dance captivates us as it grows darker all around.
Travelling to the Ambon area our penultimate day of diving starts along the coast of Nusa Laut. A gorgeous coral reef extends below us as we make our way along spotting pipefish, leaf scorpion fish and sea moths in the sand. Our next dive brings on creatures both big and small, with mushroom coral pipefish, solar powered nudis and large black and white spotted morays.
As sunset approaches we take the Jaya for a bit of sailing. The sails are unfurled, the wind catches and we’re off. Taking the dinghies out for a better view, the Jaya looks like a pirate ship ready for action.
Counting down our last few dives, we start our day on the south side of Pulau Ambon. A rocky wall opens up into stunning caves with light filtering down through cracks and crevices. Our next dive brings clouds of fish and bubbling sand. Digging one’s hands into the sand, you can quickly feel the heat that emanates from the island. Dive 3 is a nice easy dive along a gentle coral slope. Large spearing mantis shrimp look out from their holes and a few lucky ones get to witness a fight between an octopus and giant moray. We end our diving adventure with a night dive in the harbour. Cuttlefish, octopus, nudibranchs and ornate ghost pipe fish give us a final send off. We enjoy our last dinner on board, everyone excitedly talking about their favourite dives, all the stuff they saw and when they can come back.
The sun rises on our final day, but the mood is still joyous. Equipment gets packed down, dive logs are filled out, email addresses shared to send out photos of the trip. It’s time to depart the Jaya and head into the city of Ambon. One final hug and wave goodbye to our home for the last two weeks. We covered over 180 nautical miles, 10 dives and 4 days on our last leg. Our adventure has spanned 14 days, 44 dives and 1000 nautical miles as we journeyed from Maumere to Ambon.
The Jaya will continue to journey north to Waisai, where our Raja Ampat liveaboard season is about to start. Already eagerly planning the next two-week expedition trip from Waisai to Ambon in May 2019. More amazing diving ahead.