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Why you need to visit North Maluku

North Maluku, also known as the Spice Islands, is a region in Indonesia that’s packed with phenomenal experiences for the intrepid traveller. The twin volcanic island Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore are the most historically significant of the North Maluku islands, and were once fabulously wealthy for the production of cloves, nutmeg and mace (which, pre-refrigerators, were among the world’s most valuable commodities). Though less than a 15-minute speedboat ride apart, these islands are strikingly different from one another: different languages are spoken, different customs observed and each has an altogether distinct atmosphere. Ternate is busy and bustling, with a population of around 250,000 who live tightly around the lower reaches of the dramatic cone-shaped and active volcano, Gamalama. Tidore, on the other hand, almost has the feel of a remote Caribbean island; once colonised by the Spanish, it’s home to colourful villages, well-maintained amenities and a laidback atmosphere. This sharp contrast is intriguing, and the lack of explanation as to why almost adds to the allure. It’s quirky places like this that make travelling to Indonesia so special. Here’s our take on why you need to visit the North Maluku islands. 1. Get swept up in Ternate Harbour Ternate Harbour is a hive of activity, with passengers and goods moving through or from here to all parts of the archipelago. The narrow roads are packed with traffic and purposeful looking people, and there is a sense of busy commerce. It’s a fantastic experience that transports you wholly away from the everyday. 2. Watch a local sports game The population of Ternate seem to be sport-mad. In the evenings many people head to their nearest stretch of flat ground (there isn’t much) and play volleyball or an intricate variant of football played with tiny goals, dancing feet and rapid passing. It’s refreshingly inclusive as well, with women being just as involved as men. 3. Eat delicious seafood Seafood is of spectacular quality throughout the Maluku islands. Throughout the day there are restaurants and makeshift stalls selling a wide variety, and Ternate is home to a brilliant night market. Fish is typically served grilled with variants on a dabu dabu sauce (a delicious and ubiquitous dressing made with shallots, green chillies, tomatoes and varying amounts of soy, sugar and lime juice), rice and fresh vegetables. 4. Visit the colourful villages of Tidore All over Tidore, you’ll see the characteristic and traditional Maluku houses, with colourful striking villages dotting the countryside. These are often surrounded by beautiful gardens that are fantastically well-maintained, making it a real treat for the very few tourists who make it there each year. 5. Snorkel in the pristine waters of Halmahera A short boat ride away from Tidore and Ternate is the beautiful island of Halmahera, the largest island in the Maluku. It’s home to some of the most phenomenal snorkelling across the country, and due to its remote location, you can swim for hours without encountering another tourist. Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group. Experience Travel Group offers tailor-made luxury travel experiences in South and South-East Asia. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. What a wonderful post on a lesser known part of the world. I thoroughly enjoy reading about places off the beaten track and learning about new places I haven’t encountered before. These are the sorts of places I like to travel to. Thank you!

  2. I’ve heard of the Spice Islands but wouldn’t have been able to locate them on a map. And I’d never heard of North Maluku.

    Arriving by speedboat is my sort of travel. There’s loads to do as well. I think that I’m going to have to investigate further! Also very happy to bring home a load of spices for my kitchen spice rack.

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