Looking back at the history of Indonesia, there was a deep connection between the city of Ambon and the traders from Europe. Ambon was well known for producing spices, particularly nutmeg. That is why it was nicknamed The Island of Spices.
Ambon’s remains charming. Tucked away far in the east of Indonesia, Ambon is the capital of the Maluku Islands. It is the gateway for those who want to seek adventure to the famous Banda Islands, Seram Island and even further to the Kei Islands.
Yet it is more than jut a gateway to other places. Ambon has some of the most pristine beach in Indonesia. It is blessed with an incredible natural landscape, ‘flour-like’ sandy beaches and crystal clear water. I have no doubt that Ambon and the islands around are worth to visit.
Getting to Ambon City
Daily flights operate from Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar to Pattimura Internasional Airport in Ambon. Garuda Indonesia, Batikair, and Lion Air are the three big airlines operating flights to Ambon. Alternatively, you can take a pelni ship, which takes ages but is cheaper, to get to the island.
From the airport, you can take the public bus, called Damri, to the city center. It costs (Rp 35.000). Note that Damri buses do not operate all the time, so make sure to check the schedule before heading to the airport. The schedule from the airport to the city is at 7 a.m. 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Going the other way, buses from the city center (Lapangan Merdeka) to the airport run at 4.30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Taxis are also available from the airport. A taxi will cost around Rp 150.000. One interesting thing about moving around the city is that you can take ferry from one point to another point and it is actually faster than driving.
Where to stay in Ambon City
There are numbers of hotels around the city ranging from budget to more expensive hotels in the city. If you go for budget, consider Aman’s Inn, which is conveniently located close to the market, harbor and bus station.
You can find a number of nice mid-range hotels around Ambon City. I’d recommend Stori Hotel Ambon. At the top end I’d recommend the Swiss-Belhotel or The Natsepa Resort, which are the nicest places in town.
Things to do in Ambon City
Don’t think that you need to leave Ambon City as soon as you arrive. There are a lot of interesting things to do in Ambon City for tourists. Top of the list of course is taking a spice tour to learn about the history of spice cultivation around Ambon. Here are a few of the other things to do around the city.
1. Natsepa Beach
Natsepa Beach is just short drive from Ambon City. In the afternoon the beach is alwaus packed with locals swimming or strolling around. Along the roadside you’ll find small stalls selling Rujak, a famous snack with fruits topped with peanut sauce. It’s sweet and tangy.
2. Liang Beach
Hunimua Beach or known as Liang Beach is around 40 kms from Ambon. The beach is beautiful. You’ll be amazed by the color of the ocean on a warm sunny day. Keep an eye out for kids jumping from the Bridge into the crystal clear waters. You can find some other beautiful beaches in Ambon and around Indonesia in this post.
3. Traditional market
People living in Ambon still trade in the traditional way, at a market. Not far from the city center you’ll find a traditional market selling groceries such as veggies, meat and fish. Of course you’ll still find lots of spices. The market is a kaleidoscope of colors. You can see the daily activities of the locals in the market or even buy some stuff for yourself.
4. The World Peace Gong
A world peace gong was installed in the city center to commemorate the riots that happened in Ambon, precisely from 1996 – 2002. The landmark looks better at night lit up by the lights. There is also a small museum under the gong displaying historical pictures. Btw, there are several world peace gongs around the world. You’ll find some in China, Switzerland and Hungary.
5. Christina Tiahahu Statue
Martha Christina Tiahahu is a national heroine of Indonesia. This 8-meter tall statue of her holding a spear can be seen clearly from almost anywhere in Ambon City. The statue is in Karang Panjang, a hilly area not far from Ambon. The monument is a symbol of appreciation and a legacy of the brave woman who fought for independence.
Things to do Around Ambon
The Maluku Islands are hard to get to and well off the tourist track. You should try to make the most of your time here by exploring the region. Below are a few of the best places to visit around the area if you come to the Maluku Islands.
1. Banda Islands
The Banda Islands are an off beaten track destination in Maluku and a paradise for underwater junkies. The islands are remote, which is a great thing if you love diving. The reef system is healthy and supports a diverse ecosystem. Perfect for diving!
The other highlight of the Banda Islands is Gunung Api. The volcano rises 667m above sea level. The trail up to the peak takes around 2 hours. From the top you can enjoy fantastic views overlooking the island and the ocean.
2. Ora Beach, Seram Island
Ora Beach is a secluded beach on Seram Island. With a staggering peak, the beach is often compared to the set of Jurrasic World. There’s a coral reef just offshore where you can go diving or snorkeling. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and relax in peaceful surroundings.
3. The Kei Islands
Ngurbolat Beach is known as the beach with the softest sand in the world. The beach stretches for 5 km. It is lined with thousands of coconut trees waving along the Shore of Kei Island. Another favorite beach is Pasir Panjang Beach and Ngurtafur Beach. Make sure you check them out!
Ambon City and the Maluku Islands have a special place in my heart. These emerald islands surrounded by the crystal clear water of the Banda Sea and the multicolored coral reefs are something you should experience when you come to Indonesia. I hope this guide inspires you to visit and helps you arrange your trip to the islands.
About the author:
Velysia of littlenomadid.com is an Indonesian nomad and an easy-going girl. Travel is not just a hobby for her, it’s her passion. She enjoys every single step of her journey. Velysia is a mountain addict and a beach lover. She decided to travel around her beloved country before exploring the big wide world. Through travel she finds serenity. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | G+
Have you visited the Maluku Islands? What did you think of Ambon City? Are there any special places you’d recommend to tourists visiting the islands? Share your thoughts in the comment below.