Cleaning The Island of Banda Neira Maluku Indonesia

The journey to reach Banda Neira, one of the eleven Banda Islands in Maluku Indonesia, is a journey in itself. For any traveller fortunate enough to have set foot here they will surely tell you that this place is one of a kind. Island life here is pretty special. From the friendly people to the breathtaking panorama at sunset, this sleepy fishing town is drawing tourists from all around the world.


So why do visitors want to make the trip to Banda?

This is a great destination to learn more about ocean conservation, the importance of the coral reefs and to support the volunteer projects in the local community.



A Quick Overview


The journey to reach Banda Neira, one of the eleven Banda Islands in Maluku Indonesia, is a journey in itself. For any traveller fortunate enough to have set foot here they will surely tell you that this place is one of a kind. Island life here is pretty special. From the friendly people to the breathtaking panorama at sunset, this sleepy fishing town is drawing tourists from all around the world.


Many who visit want to explore the region's rich cultural heritage, learn about the often forgotten importance of the spice trade and scuba dive some of the oceans most beautiful dive spots. For others, it is a chance to learn more about ocean conservation, the importance of the coral reefs and to support the volunteer projects in the local community.



Scuba Diving in Banda: Tourism Industry


The island town on Banda Neira is a wonderful area to travel within Indonesia. Featuring a mostly dirt road filled with friendly local people, plenty of greenery, simple food stalls, a small wet market, a medical clinic, a single airstrip, a handful of hotels and even fewer diving schools; it is a calm and welcoming place. If you are interested in learning to scuba dive, the calm waters make for a great beginners dive and the confined water training can be done in the ocean instead of in a swimming pool.


Dive Bluemotion is a certified Green Fins Member and they are the only business on the island who are a part of this alliance which works to protect the oceans. For anyone interested in learning about ocean conservation, Dive Bluemotion partners with an organisation called Luminocean. They offer an EcoDiver Course as well as Marine Ecology Internships.


For further information visit Dive Bluemotion and Luminocean


Volunteering in Banda


If you have come to Banda Neira to scuba dive with Dive Bluemotion, then you will likely have heard about Luminocean too. If not, here is a quick summary of what they are all about. Luminocean is working collaboratively on the land with the local community to bring change to an island that has minimal access to services such as education, waste management and community health.


This is carried out in the form of beach and ocean clean-ups, diving and swimming training of local students, building plastic-free school programs, and offering alternative solutions for the dumping of plastic waste in the oceans. Supported by a German Non-Profit Organisation called BandaSEA the projects carried out are nothing short of inspirational.


Given the location, you might think that the island would be pristine and perhaps free from the pollution that most tourist hubs are burdened with. Sadly, this is not the case. There is a significant population of local people who reside on the islands, Banda Neira being the most populous, and the most visited. Then you have the tourists who visit during the two high seasons throughout the year. Finally, you have a number of tourists travelling via Live Aboard Yachts and the constant arrival of fishing boats and passenger ferries. This creates a large amount of waste which primarily enters the nearby ocean.


On any given day you can see single-use plastic waste generated mostly by an excessive amount of plastic packaging for food and beverages. Think plastic straws, plastic cups, bottles, chip packets, take-out containers used for local meals, empty sauce packets and plastic cutlery all used once just for a moment and then thrown away with the plastic bag it came in!


The cleaning projects all help keep the beach clean, safe and healthy for the local community who rely heavily on the fishing and tourism industry that Banda Neira provides. Creating change and shifting perception is challenging, and working with what can be a seemingly overwhelming problem such as single-use plastic, can be exhausting.


I was consistently amazed by those involved who work tirelessly protecting the environment and teaching the next generation. A big thank you personally to Maga (Chairman of Luminocean Foundation) and Mareike (Director of Luminocean) for all that you continue to do.


To learn more you can view this infographic brochure.



Beach Cleaning


The plastic rubbish which makes its way into the ocean, eventually partly washes up on the shore, leaving a not-so-nice sight. Collecting trash from the beachfront is not light work but the team are incredible at what they do! Help is always needed to keep multiple areas of the island free from rubbish. Picking up the plastic each time you visit any area of the beach is a beautiful way to contribute to keeping the environment clean and safe.


Before The Beach Clean Up
After The Beach Clean Up (3 hours of collecting trash)

Ocean Cleaning


Similar to the beach cleaning the ocean clean up is an important part of the work! Using a small local boat, a few fishing nets, and a lot of willpower; trash is picked up off the surface of the ocean. The waste is taken to either a collection facility or to the island's local waste dump for sorting. No matter where it comes from we are all collectively responsible for doing better and making positive changes for the community.


Cleaning The Local Community Area

Plastic-Free Schools


Everything starts with education! A vital part of making progress comes from the youngest members in the community who are ready to learn and embrace change. The education on plastic waste, the ocean, the environment and the importance of sustainability is taught in the classroom in the hope that the children will take their passion and knowledge back home and share it with their families.


Recycling, art projects, plastic-free classrooms, gardening and learning to swim are just some of the wonderful and important elements of the education projects. Volunteers can also assist in the classroom to teach students English as a second language.


A Sustainable Solution: Recycling The Plastic Waste

What can we do about plastic waste? Where will it all go? This is a complex issue but one that Luminocean and BandaSEA are working on and continuing to see the light when it comes to a solution that is both sustainable and manageable.


The latest project consists of an effort to extend the waste pickup system across to Banda Besar. This is a mountainous and rugged area of the island that is known for its nutmeg plantations and numerous local villages which are located on this stretch of the island. The plan is to build a small storage space where the sorted plastic can be collected until the team can bring it over to Banda Neira.


This project will receive a shredder to support the recycling efforts and additional help from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesia. All plastic collected from Neira and Banda Besar will go to the storage area near the airport on Neira. This is where a local team is tirelessly sorting the plastic into two groups. One group is suitable for pyrolysis (a common technique used to convert plastic waste into energy) and the other group will be shipped to Surabaya for recycling.


Currently, there are more than one hundred sacks consisting of 40 kg each of shredded plastic already waiting for transport to Surabaya! There is a massive need for this project to develop into a reliable solution for the plastic problem. Of course, the effort within the local community to educate everyone on the damage single-use plastic causes to the ocean will continue - but in the meantime, we still require a working alternative.


Keeping The Island Clean Is A Full-Time Job

Final Thoughts


Banda is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited. The distance from the mainland takes you far away from Indonesia's tourist hot spots to a place that is rather remarkable. If you are passionate about sustainability, the ocean, the islands or want to further your knowledge in areas of community development, education and threats local industries place on the health of the dive sites; this is the place to be.


If you are travelling and want to make a difference, bring nothing with you that will leave a negative environmental footprint. Plastic-Free alternatives make a difference and we have a responsibility as wanderers to be considerate of our choices.


Getting to Banda Neira


In most cases, the way to reach Banda Neira is from the port of Ambon Maluku where you have (depending on the many variables) a few options. Take a local Pelni Ship roughly 8-14 hours, the Fast Ferry for about 6 hours or fly across with Susi Air in a Turbolet plane in less than 60 minutes. Time frames are heavily dependent on the season availability and the local weather!


Sunset at Baba Lagoon Hotel / Dive BlueMotion Banda Neira

Please Note

Due to the current and ongoing situation regarding the Covid-19 Pandemic, Travel For Change and the mentioned organisations, do not encourage travel during this time. Please connect with Luminocean, Dive Bluemotion, BandaSEA for future opportunities.





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