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Pelni ferries travel from Ambon to Banda, Banda to Tual (in the Kei Islands), Tual to Banda, and Banda to Ambon. There are a number of classes on the ferries 'ekonomi', 'kelas tiga', 'kelas dua' and 'kelas satu' depending on the ferry. If travelling on a budget, the ferry is much cheaper than the plane and takes about 8 hours for the Ambon-Banda trip (12 or 17 hours from Banda to Tual depending on the ferry). There can be some difficulties booking - the pelni website, www.pelni.co.id, usually only has the schedule for the next month, and I even found buying tickets more than a week in advance can be difficult. Still, it can be a great experience, and a good chance to chat to some locals, especially if most of your trip is in daylight hours - ekonomi is not so comfortable at night. There have been reports of pick-pocketing when trying to board the ferry - it is a manic loading of people and goods, and some reports of gangs of young men pickpocketing on board.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
It is easy to catch a public boat to take you to several of the Banda Islands from Bandaneira. Boats for Lonthoir and other places on Banda Besar leave frequently. There are at least two boats per day to Pulau Ai, and it is easy to get across to Pulau Gunung Api at most times of day. Note that the boats to Pulau Ai leave in the morning, so if you take the public boat you will have to stay overnight (or longer, because it is a fantastic little island - see my tip). In January 2011, the fare for the public boat to Pulau Ai was 20,000 rupiah one way. If you want to do a day trip to snorkel arounnd Pulau Ai, you will need to charter. The cost is around 400,000 rupiah (share with other travellers) and may include a snorkelling stop near Pulau Run depending on the weather. Getting to Banda Besar and back in a day on the public boats should be fairly simple.
Written Feb 26, 2011
Nusantara Buana Airways (NBA) have been given another governement subsidised contract to fly Ambon - Banda - Ambon two days a week - Saturday and Wednesday. The plane is an 18 seater and price was 320,000 rupiah in January 2011 (the price will depend on how large the government subsidy is). There is a 10kg luggage limit - although carry on luggage was not weighed when I flew and some travellers were carrying at least another 10kg. Booking is still difficult - there seems a reluctance to sell return tickets - so unless you have a contact, the tickets to return from Banda to Ambon can only be bought in Banda. Locals are hoping for at least one more flight per week, and also hoping that the price will come down a little. The flight from Ambon to Banda takes an hour with some great views of tiny islands en route. As you approach the airstrip, you can understand why the planes used are only 18 seaters!
Updated Feb 25, 2011
Pelni web site is a bit limited and gives only the next departures, there are 2 boats from Ambon to Banda Km. Nggapulu and Km. Ciremai (coming from Makassar, Surabaya...going to Kai islands, Sorong...) running every 2 weeks.
Written Nov 9, 2010
If you have extra money you can always rented speedboat. One medium boat for 10-15 people can be rented for 25 million rupiah or around $250 (if 1$=RP10,000). Contact two dive operators in Ambon Blue Rose www.bluerosedivers.com or Maluku Divers www.divingmaluku.com to arrange the trip. Divers long for convenient often join live a board cruise. You hop in the luxurious boat with accommodation for minimum seven days stay. Few cruises cater Banda Seas diving along together with other Indonesian dive sites such as Raja Ampat Papua, Komodo Dragon Island, Saparua and Halmahera Island. Among those are luxury wooden-boat Pindito www.pindito.com, medium size and customized Seven Seas www.thesevenseas.net or Archipelago www.archipelago-fleet.com/pages-destinations/banda-diving-01 .
Written Feb 10, 2009
Banda Island isolated because there is no reliable and frequent transportation. Merpati airlines "supposedly" fly every Monday morning back and forth Banda form Ambon. Once a week. But they are too often change his flight even at the same day! the same morning. Sometimes for a good reason such as bad weather, but too often for "mysterious unexplainable" reason, such as some of rich European tourist hired for Rp25 million for themselves. Much better and reliable services offered by PELNI, big boat Ciremai sail every two weeks from Ambon to Banda. Leave Saturday from Ambon around 5pm and arrived in Bandaneira midnight. Book the ticket immidiately if you want first class tickets (which give you two berth and nice Airco for Rp275,000 / $28). The Boat back from banda next Tuesday around 10pm (or they change sometime depends on what time they leave from Tual Island). It arrived in Ambon at 5pm.
Written Jan 30, 2009
There is only one weekly flight to Bandaneira from Ambon. And it depends on wind/weather condition too. If it doesn't fly this monday then u'll have to wait till next monday. Flight is at 7a.m. from Ambon, and around 8a.m. from Bandaneira. Ticket is priced at 120 000rp. The plane is very small, accomodating less than 20 people.
You can also take Pelni ship to Bandaneira. But you will have to check with Pelni the schedule. Price of ticket depends on which class of ticket you intend to buy. It takes about 7hrs to get from Ambon to Banda.
Updated Oct 13, 2007
New private airline, NBA, from Ambon to Bandnaira: Wednesday and Saturday, from Masohi, Seram Wednesday only. Office is in front of the Marina hotel in Ambon.
Written Nov 10, 2010