Bandanaira is one of ten small volcanic islands located in the Banda Sea about 1250 miles east of Java. These islands were the original, and until the mid-19th Century, the only source of nutmeg and mace in the world. Arab traders jealously guarded their secret source until 1511 when a Portuguese explorer stumbled onto the Banda archipelago. They became a critical part of the so-called “Spice Islands” of Indonesia, a violently contested resource for the colonial powers of the Portuguese, Dutch and English. In the town of Bandanaira, the Dutch star fortress of Belgica, from 1611, is still the largest intact Dutch fortress in the country, and is nominated for UNESCO World Heritage inscription. Nutmeg is still grown here, and you can visit orchards containing trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. The coral reefs in the Banda Sea are listed among the most beautiful in the world, resplendent with hard and soft corals and myriad vividly colored fishes. Other sites of interest include the 300-year-old Sun Tien Kong Chinese Temple, the Schelling House mansion, the 1820s Dutch mansion of Istana Mini and the house where the Indonesian patriot Mohammad Hatta, Indonesia’s first Vice President and Prime Minister, was exiled between 1936 and 1942 during the struggle for independence from the Dutch.