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It has been late 1991 when I first ventured to Banda Island in the Maluku Sea. I was then backpacking through Indonesia and on to PNG. I remember a quaint village with big history. The island came to fame and humble wealth as origin of spices such as nutmeg and pepper. Very violent battles between Colonial occupiers and locals have formed a very proud population. Diving was fabulous, but no dive guides and hardly any services available in Banda in 1991. I got stuck for a couple of days as no ferry or flight were available to travel on.

20 years later I sailed into Banda harbour again – this time on board of PINDITO.

What a change in experience. Pindito is definitely one of the finest live aboard vessels in Indonesia. Ample space for 16 guest in roomy airconditioned cabins. Private ensuite bathrooms, Saecco Coffee machine, free Bintang, 3 excellent meals every day, and the best group of dive guides to show us around.

Does this sound pampered? Then I explained it right. Guest on Pindito are looked after by 14 amazing crew members, starting from the chef in her stainless kitchen, through the hard working guys in the engine room, the ship mates, dive guides, the captain to the 2 cruise directors (The only non –Indonesians). Everyone was working hard to make sure we guest were having a good time.

PINDITO was built 20 years ago from tropical timber in the traditional Phinisi style. The ship has a beautiful feel of old maritime tradition. I agree with Edi, the owner, that she will be still around in 100 years. The sails hardly get raised these days as our trip covers almost 1000 km. In 11 days we covered some of the most amazing reefs in the heart of the Coral Triangle.

Critter galore in Ambons deep harbour, giant hard coral cover on the volcanic reef slopes of Banda Island, exposed seamounts, sheltered coral gardens, reef points sticking out into the currents,. Cleaner stations where the giants of the oceans receive their pedicure from specialised fish….

As a long time fan of Papua New Guinea Diving – which I still am, I have to concede that especially the northern reefs around Misool and Mansuar are displaying a density of life which is unparalleled. Each square millimiter is covered by some (colourful) living “thing”. It is a divers (and uw photographers) dream.

Back on board PINDITO, there was a buzz of excitement after each dive. Our well travelled and experienced dive buddies had all big smiles about their dives.

Mike, Amir and Bob- our guides – constantly showed us the weird and wonderful.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, THE authorities on Diving in Raja Ampat and authors of many photo books, had just been on Pindito for the first time (after 15 years of intensively diving the region) left a big compliment in the guest book. Their biggest regret is to realise what they missed out on by not going on Pindito in those previous years.

It is difficult to explain one’s excitement without falling into platitudes. So I stop here and hopefully leave you with the desire to see for yourself what I was on about..

PS: Banda itself hasn’t changed much. The world seems to stay still in those remote parts of our planet.


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