Ambon Day Tours
A number of different full day and half day tours can be arranged by Maluku Divers so that divers can enjoy the experience of Ambon’s natural, historical and cultural attractions. This is not only a nice use of time while the dive equipment is drying and divers off-gas before flying home, it is also an interesting way to learn more about the island and meet members of Ambon’s community. A few of these tours are detailed below;
Ambon City, Cemetery and Museum
Ambon City is on the southern half of Ambon island. The city is a centre of shipping trade as the hub of central Maluku. Ambon City is worth visiting to experience the insanity of an Indonesian city, the street sellers, the hustle and bustle, the seemingly uncontrolled traffic. It is a novel experience.
A short drive 20 minutes out of the city, is a local museum, which is basic by international standards, but is an interesting attraction. Information and exhibits about housing, woven materials, spices and examples of pots, carvings and currency can all be found in the museum. Mosquito repellent is encouraged for the museum, it can also be dark if there is no electricity.
Over the ages, many conflicts have happened in and around Ambon, Maluku and Indonesia as a whole. The Australian Cemetery is worth a visit for some quiet and reflection. Many rows of memorials rest beneath two huge trees, detailing the names, rank, nationality and the ages of the individuals commemorated there. It’s a moving experience and well worth a visit.
Larike Village & Freshwater Eels Tour
Tony Wu’s video of the Larike Eels has significantly increased the interest in this half day tour. Initially guests will drive along the coastal road between Laha and Larike Village, absorbing the sites and sounds of the communities in the area.
Arriving in Larike, a short 3 or 4 minute walk through the village takes guests to the river, which even today is a focal point of the village community. The locals use the river for washing, laundry, preparing food for cooking, which in itself is interesting to observe.
However the focus of the visit to Larike are the multiple freshwater eels which inhabit a deep hollow on the far bank. The eels are very tame and completely used to being handled. The local villagers have interacted with the eels for years, feeding them chopped fish or meat, which has resulted in the eels training themselves to swim upstream to the shallows when they scent the food in the water. This is a unique sight, 20 or more one metre long eels swimming against the river flow, in some areas exiting the water, to get to the food provided by the villagers.
Hafes, the Maluku Divers restaurant supervisor, is Chief of the Village in Larike, he often joins tours to the village, providing unique insight in to the life of the village.
Waii Eels and Natural Hot Springs
When Maluku Divers was situated on the southern peninsula of Ambon, the Waii sacred eels were the most famous eels on the island, it is prohibited for the local community to eat the eels, so they are very healthy and can be over 1.5 metres in length. Cared for by Mr Minggus, who hand feeds the eels with raw eggs, the eels inhabit a deep pool off a shallow area of a river. Here too, the local community congregates for washing clothes and plates after meals, so any eels in the area are very tame.
The local belief in Waii is that over 300 eels live in the pool and that some even have jewellery. Sadly, the eels which have been seen and photographed by guests of Maluku Divers, have never been so adorned, but certainly a visit to these of the Larike eels is an interesting excursion.
A short drive from the Waii eels are Ambon’s natural hot springs. The area in the vicinity of the springs is quite basic, but the local community has constructed some changing areas and concrete steps from which to sit or dangle feet in the waters. The temperature is piping hot, but some visitors immerse themselves completely in the water. Local traditions state that the water has special healing attributes.
Keep your eyes open
When touring around Ambon, it is very frequent to see small roadside stalls occupied by villagers selling their wares. Seasonal fruits such as rambutan or gondaria are sold, and visitors are encouraged to stop to purchase these and meet the stall owners. Depending on the season, cloves, nutmeg are processed in the sun by the side of the road.
Street food is also a big part of Ambonese life and most tours will pass several ‘warungs’ sell their own versions of traditional Ambonese snacks. Rujak is the best example of this, peanuts and cane sugar pounded into a sticky sauce, drizzled over tart fresh fruits. A hint of chili can also add spice to the Ambonese delicacy.
In addition to pretty scenery, Ambon also has wild nutmeg, clove and cinnamon trees, which are worth stopping to have a closer look. These spices are integral to the history of the Spice Islands and the island of Ambon is no exception.
For more information regarding the history of Ambon and the Spice Islands, some reading during or before the trip, guests are encouraged to loook for“Nathaniel’s Nutmeg” by Giles Milton, intriguing and interesting, the novel/history book explains a great deal of the history that can be found in Ambon.