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The Moluccas

Despite the fascinating, and often horrendous, spice trading history of the Moluccas, it's the archipelago's natural heritage that provides the main attraction. Emerald green-clad volcanoes punch from the Pacific, whilst bird-filled tropical rainforests lead to tribal villages, and untold uninhabited islands promise exciting underwater adventures. Getting here isn't straightforward, and the over-water stilted bungalows where you stay are very basic, but for a remote and rustic island retreat, you won't go far wrong.

Three things to do in the Moluccas

Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...

A sustainable setting

As your longboat floats down the Salawai River, keep your eyes firmly fixed on both sides of the banks. This area of Manusela National Park is known for saltwater crocodiles, and despite the beautiful birds and butterflies flitting from the forest foliage you can't help but be on guard. But then, suddenly, the forest clears and gives way to small groups of sustainable sago farmers working the land. In many other areas of South-East Asia, this sort of setting would be prime real estate for a riverside resort, but on Seram Island things are still undisturbed by that level of tourism. Local people rely on fishing and agriculture for employment and, rather refreshingly, it's still way off the mainstream radar.

Moluccas islands

Cultural connections

Visiting an indigenous tribal village in the Moluccas, hidden by thick jungle, is a learning experience and a privilege; the chance to interact with people leading a very different way of life. Several villages in the Moluccas have only recently been connected to electricity, and life still moves at a pace that's more in line with the natural rhythms of the days and seasons. Listen to your guide, who will interpret and help you chat with local people. Avoid taking photos out of respect for village elders, graciously accept a cup of strong rice wine, and ask for your guideā€™s help with translation.

Moluccas village

Simple pleasures

Waking to the sounds of the sea gently lapping around a stilted overwater bungalow is absolutely dreamy. Although extremely rustic, and the WiFi signal is non-existent, it's the simple pleasures that mean the most. Take Teluk Sawai Bay, for example. This amazing underwater area lends itself effortlessly to snorkelling - the sea is so clear you barely need to wear a mask to make out the fish swimming over the shallow coral reefs. Step out of the water and onto the white sand at Ora Beach, where there's a hammock tied between two palms ready and waiting. If it's simple pleasures you're after, Seram Island is the place to hang your sun hat.

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