The Malukus is the name given to a group of islands spread over a vast area of Eastern Indonesia. More than 90% of the area is made of water, with tiny specks of land interspersed across great expanses of ocean. It would take months to explore even the major island groups in any depth so visitors need to be a little selective. My advice for first time visitors to this area would be to put the Banda Islands at the top of your must-see list. I have travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and this really is one of the most interesting and unusual destinations in the whole region.
The main island in the group, Banda Island, is centred on the small town of Bandaneira. Bandaneira consists of nineteenth century villas, a museum, a colonial church and various other historically important edifices. The town is a museumpiece from the days when the tiny cluster of volcanic islands known as the Bandas was the centre of a thriving trade in spices. The town has two forts dating back to the seventeenth century, the older built by the Portuguese and the younger, Fort Belgica, built by the Dutch. Belgica looks out to sea from a hill high up on the crest of the island. Those interested in history can spend a leisurely few days here investigating forts, spice trader's mansions and residences of Indonesian nationalist leaders who were sent into exile here during the last phase of the colonial era. My personal favorite is the early nineteenth century governor's palace (usually left unlocked- just push on the door).
Apart from its historic value, the area is scenically quite wonderful. A huge active volcano looms over the town and rich coral gardens just offshore. There are no cars on the islands so they are perfect for exploring on foot. Tourists can check out clove and nutmeg plantations or follow island trails that pass through pockets of forest on the way to deserted beaches. Snorkellers and divers can arrange boat trips out to reefs and drop-offs. It is possible to catch public transport to outlying islands to explore more beaches and forts. Bandaneira has a number of inexpensive homestays where travellers can relax and enjoy local delicacies such as nutmeg and almond cakes and spreads and a range of eggplant and fish dishes. The island has one flight a week from Ambon but I would recommend getting a cabin on one of the national Pelni sea-liners. They go between Ambon and the Bandas several times a week.