Dive in Style author Tim Simond is diving his way round the most remote parts of Indonesia. This is the final part in a series of blogs on his trip written on board the Seven Seas boat in the Banda Sea. Read part 1 and 2.
Whilst we had the magic of ink black skies studded with a billion stars to dine under, be it on a beach barbecue or on deck, probably the best time for diving would be around a full moon when there would be more current to bring in the pelagic life from the surrounding deep and with it, perhaps the great hammerheads who have been recently sighted here in groups, unusually for a solitary shark.
As the Banda Sea is the deepest sea in the world for its size, descending to some 27,000 feet in places, anchorages are few and far between and so we 'hubbed' out of Bay of Banda each day visiting one of the outlying islands, drifting, fed to bursting, and then returning in the evening, perhaps for a night dive. The constant was the perfect coral and endless marine life, although the larger fish seemed a little disturbed by us divers and tended to keep their distance.
Banda Islands Diving
Another dive we visited more than once was off Hatta, a submerged reef, home to a vast school of jacks which made for a wonderful Blue Planet sight.
Night diving in the bay of Banda was a further high spot with one of the world's most beautiful sights, the mandarin fish, indulging in their dusk dance, whilst relaxed multi-hued cuttlefish and other more obtuse life came out.
Perhaps the most extraordinary were the luminescent shrimp which no one, including an onboard marine expert, had ever seen or heard of before. Ejecting clouds of multi coloured light that then subsided into a small carpet of white luminescence, looking much like a city from the air, this was spectacular. This dive is also home to the world's most bioluminescent fish, photo bletheron bandenensis, but we failed to spot him, happy with our 'discovery' in these undived waters.
For the even more adventurous, you can arrange a 48 hour detour to Snake Island where, provided it is your thing, you can swim with hundreds of thousands of highly venomous but totally friendly sea snake that create writhing balls in the ocean. Happily we did not.
In summation this is a great adventure for those wanting unspoilt diving where you are guaranteed to be the only divers in the water. Abundant fish life, wonderful nudibranchs, stunning coral, and some extraordinarily obtuse sea life combine with a fascinating history, island visits to ancient forts the scene of such horrors contrasting with the calm nutmeg plantations, all of which were once the focus of the world's attention and now, having enjoyed their years in the spot light, have slipped back into obscurity.
So remote and unsullied are these islands that even Princess Diana, in one of her voyages of self discovery, spent some unreported time here in the most basic of hotels. In short, this is a great trip for those searching for wonderful rich untrammelled diving in a beautiful setting, stunning clear waters with endless visibility all set against the most extraordinary and seemingly untold history, the echoes of which were to be felt around the world and still resonate today.