The city of Ambon on the island of the same name is the main arrival and departure point for the Maluka archipelago. With plenty of accommodation options and all the facilities you’d expect of a thriving city, Ambon attracts many visitors. For some, it is a stepping stone to other island destinations but there are plenty of attractions on and around Ambon Island. Two distinct peninsular’s are a feature of the island. Ambon city is located on the smaller and more densely populated Leitimur Peninsular. The northern peninsular of Leihitu is larger but more remote, sparsely populated and receives fewer visitors.
Ambon City itself has a number of attractions including a Dutch colonial fort, mosques, museums and hill top monuments. Of note for those interested military history is The Commonwealth War Cemetery which commemorates the Allied troops, including many Australians who lost their lives fighting the Japanese during WWII. The cemetery is open at all times, if the gates are locked ask at the adjoing residence to enter via a side gate.
Whilst you’re in the vicinity, drop into the Maluku Province Tourist Office located on the hill just above the Commonwealth War Cemetery for more information on what to see and do.
There are numerous beaches around the southern Leitimur Peninsular. Many are quite developed with accommodation and entry fees to the main attractions. If possible visit during the week to avoid weekend crowds. The surrounding islands have a number of excellent diving and snorkelling sites, packages to which can be arranged at either of the two dive shops in Ambon.
Soya Atas village is situated on the slopes of Gunung Sirimau behind Ambon City. With a lovely old church and a ritual meeting place with ancient megaliths, it is a popular attraction. Pathways from the village lead to other traditional villages and to a sacred hilltop site with more megaliths and a water container that never runs dry. Drinking from the container is rumoured to bring good health, love and prosperity, though it might also bring on a stomach complaint.
North Coast Villages
A number of traditional Muslim villages dot the northern coast of the peninsular. Some are off the main road and don’t get many visitors so a guide may be needed to find them. The villagers maintain their traditional cultures, native tongues and live in traditional homes. Well worth a visit for travellers seeking a glimpse into traditional rural village life without having to travel too far from the city.
Located in the north coast village of Hila the fort was built by the Dutch East Indies Company in 1637. Restored in 1991, the building is a wonderful piece of colonial architecture. There may be a caretaker on site to let you in, if not ask around in town. Don’t forget to sign the visitor’s book and make a donation which goes towards the upkeep of this relic from a past era.
Located on the east coast the Muslim village is a transit point for travellers heading to the other Lease Islands or Seram. There are hot springs located inland from town. Visit during the week to avoid crowds.
Located in the passage between east Ambon and Haruku Island, Pulau Pombo is one of the most beautiful islands in the area. With pristine beaches lapped by clear warm waters, it offers the kind of remote tropical island experience many dream about. The island is best reached from Tulehu village by chartering a local fishing boat. Just head down to the waterfront and ask around.
Just 4.5km north of Tulehu is the village of Waii, best known for the eels that inhabit the adjacent river. The eels inhabit a pond and cave constructed on the river and for a small fee, can be coaxed out of their shelter by a local who slaps the water and offers them food. If you’re not the squeamish sort, feel free to get into the water with the eels, the larger of which can be up to 2 metres long.