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Banda Islands

Combining natural beauty, a warm local heart, and a palpable and fascinating history, this remote cluster of 10 picturesque islands isn't just Maluku’s choice travel destination, it's one of the best in Indonesia. Particularly impressive undersea drop-offs are vibrantly plastered with multicoloured coral gardens offering superlative snorkelling and diving. The central islands – Pulau Neira and Pulau Banda Besar (the great nutmeg island) – curl in picturesque crescents around a pocket-sized tropical Mt Fuji (Gunung Api, 656m).

Outlying Hatta, Ai and Neilaka each have undeveloped picture-postcard beaches. And Run, a gnarled limestone island sprouting with nutmeg and cloves, is one drop-dead gorgeous historical footnote. Getting to the islands takes time but with a fast-boat service from Ambon (in the dry season anyway) and talk of a new airport, Banda is becoming more accessible and seems set to see more visitors in the near future. So get here now, before everyone else does.

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