Saparua (Lease) Island

Saparua is a small island east of Ambon. It takes two hours by ferry from Tulehu (Ambon) to Haria, the main harbour of Saparua. There are also speedboats going up and down, it takes less time but it is less comfortable.

This renowned Maluku could not be taken irrespective of the role of the cluster of islands known as Lease, located in the centre of this archipelago. The term Lease comes from the local dialect Uliase or Uliaser which means however many ulis, they are still one. The Lease islands are a cluster of three islands app. 3 miles east of the Ambon island. It consists of Haruku, Saparua and Nusalaut islands. The Lease islands are bordered by Seram island in the north, the Banda Sea in the south and Ambon island in the west

Saparua is a coral island and has the shape of a butterfly. It is quiet and small, the main “town” Saparua is the center of the island. Outside Saparua town are the sago palm, nutmeg and clove plantations. The harvest of the cloves is from august till January. During the harvest the air is filled with the smell of the drying cloves. It is nice to see, all the mats full of cloves laying in the gardens and on the streets. In early days there were some bloody fights because the property of some trees was disputed. Since the goverment has transmigrated hundreds of families to Ceram, there is less tension.

On market days, Wednesday and Saturday, the sleepy town is full of life. It starts early in the morning and from all over the island and from the neighbor islands: Pulau Haruku and Nusa Laut, sellers and buyers are coming. It is also the only time that the mini-buses are going up and down to all the other villages on the island. Special is the variation in smoked fishes. Early in the afternoon the market is over and Saparua is as quiet and empty as always.

In Saparua-town is Benteng Duurstede (an old Dutch fort) a few years ago the restoration of this fort has started. Next to the fort is a museum, which shows the history of the rebellion of Thomas Matulessy alias Pattimura. The rebellion was a reaction on the return of the Dutch. After an incident in Porto and Haria in May 1817, the population under the leadership of Pattimura stormed the fort and killed all the people there, except the 6 years old son of the Dutch resident.

The saving of this child gave Matulessy the name Pattimura which means “big of heart”. In December 1817 after the Dutch has send a large number of soldiers from Java to break the resistance, Pattimura was executed. the saved boy named himself later on “Van den Berg from Saparua”. His descendants still have the same family name.

Other places to visit on Saparua are Booi, a village in the southwest, you can only go there by foot because you enter the village by large stairs. The village Ouw, 4 kilometers southeast of Saparua, is the center of pottery, they don’t use a potters wheels but make everything by hand.

Kulor in the northeast is close to the only spot on the island where there still is a piece of tropical forest. Also around Saparua the coral reefs has been destroyed by fishing with explosives, but still there are some unspoiled spots to snorkel and to dive. Near Kulor, Booi and the uninhabited island Molana you can enjoy undamaged coral and various tropical fishes.