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Overview

Known as Maluku locally, the Moluccas are a group of archipelagos fabled for their nutmegs and cloves, which during the 14th through 17th centuries were grown only in this obscure part of the planet. Thus, the Moluccas became known as “the Spice Islands.” The enormous value of nutmegs and cloves in Europe during that time enticed local sultanates and eventually the Portuguese, Spanish, British and Dutch to engage in brutal wars for dominance of the spice trade, which also involved Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants. Today, the Moluccas are primarily known for supreme diving in the vast seas surrounding the islands, with exotic names like ...

Known as Maluku locally, the Moluccas are a group of archipelagos fabled for their nutmegs and cloves, which during the 14th through 17th centuries were grown only in this obscure part of the planet. Thus, the Moluccas became known as “the Spice Islands.” The enormous value of nutmegs and cloves in Europe during that time enticed local sultanates and eventually the Portuguese, Spanish, British and Dutch to engage in brutal wars for dominance of the spice trade, which also involved Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants. Today, the Moluccas are primarily known for supreme diving in the vast seas surrounding the islands, with exotic names like Tanimbar, Ternate and Tidore, covering practically every type of submarine terrain imaginable. History buffs may revel in the remains of Portuguese and Dutch fortresses and architecture scattered throughout the islands or General MacArthur’s headquarters on Morotai Island. Culture aficionados will likely be agog at the primarily Christian Bandanese whose lives are dominated by an active volcano, Gunung Api. If time permits and adventure is alluring, two national parks are home to Wallacea transitional species, including scores of butterflies, birds and marsupials.

Linda Hoffman
About the Expert

Linda Hoffman is a contributing editor for five Periplus guides, including Bali (two editions), Papua, Java, Nusa Tenggara, and eight editions of Insight Guides Indonesia and the Indonesia section of their Southeast Asia guidebook.

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Linda Hoffman for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas are an archipelago within Indonesia. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the Spice Islands.
  • Language: Malay, Indonesian, Ternatean and Ambonese
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
  • Research: Malaku Islands | Maluku

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Dry season (April – October)