Indonesia’s “Forgotten Islands” – also known as the Southeast Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara) – are not a single destination, but rather a 1,000 km long chain of archipelagos stretching from Timor to West Papua on the island of New Guinea. Undeveloped, distant from population centers and far off any beaten path, these “Forgotten Islands” have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world.
The terrain of these islands varies from forested mountainous peaks in the Inner Banda Arc of islands (Wetar, Roma, Damar, Nila), with peaks as high as 868 m (on Damer) to essentially flat islands of the easternmost Aru and Kei island groups, dominated by savannah, mangroves and broadleaf forests. The Inner Arc islands are volcanic, while the island groups in the Outer Banda Arc (Leti, Luang, Sermata, Babar and Tanimbar islands) are mostly up thrust coralline limestone, often characterized by terracing resulting from periodic uplift and changes in sea level.
Together, the islands of Maluku Tenggara make up the eastern end of the bio-geographic province of Wallacea, a transitional region between continental Southeast Asia and Australia-New Guinea, with flora and fauna of the easternmost islands the most similar to New Guinea.
Culturally, most of the Austronesian peoples of the islands of Maluku Tenggara appear to be closely related, sharing similar languages, myths, and traditional beliefs. They are known for their powerful woodcarvings and sculptures depicting ancestral figures, distinctive hand woven ikat fabrics, and plaited bamboo and palm baskets.
The Forgotten Islands offer some of the best diving in Indonesian waters. Attractions include gin-clear waters, patch reefs and coral bommies, spectacular wall dives and unbelievable drop-offs. Expect to swim into schools of massive Bumphead parrotfish, tornadoes of Big-eye trevallies, Giant trevallies, Spanish mackerel, schooling barracuda, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks!