Indonesia's Banda Sea

Diver with mushroom leather corals, a purple sea fan and orange soft corals on the reef at Hatta Island.

Five minutes into my first dive in the Banda Sea, I came face-to-face with a scalloped hammerhead shark, gliding effortlessly in its underwater realm as it emerged from the depths to investigate the alien visitors descending from above. A second hammerhead swam past a moment later but was less bold in its approach and quickly disappeared back into the abyss.

Southwestern Halmahera

Halmahera epaulette shark, or walking shark, Halmahera, Indonesia. Photo by Andrey Bizyukin.

The appearance on the radar of a new world-class area for scuba diving is a rare and extremely welcome event. It is even better news when it is a place as steeped in history and culture as this one.


“Have a great time, but keep your head down!” This was the response I received from a diving friend after announcing I was planning a visit to Ambon. At least he knew where it was; my announcement to friends in Toronto drew blank stares. When I mentioned the Spice Islands, a dawn of recognition crept into their eyes. It was a place they’d vaguely heard of but had no idea whatsoever as to their location.