The Moluccas – Maluku in Indonesian – are the original Spice Islands, and a magical destination, remote and unspoiled, but with a turbulent history. The fertile Banda Islands were once the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace, while the volcanic islands of Ternate and Tidore were the only source of cloves. European fortune seekers battled to monopolise the trade of these spices – worth their weight in gold – along the ancient monsoon sea-routes. Today these beautiful islands, which also include Halmahera, Ambon, and the WWII military base of Moratai, bask in peace. They are rich in bio-diversity and characterised by white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters that are perfect for snorkelling, mountains, and rainforests. Birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts come to see dugongs and birds-of-paradise.