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Pulau Weh

Pulau Weh, or better known as Sabang, is a tiny picturesque island situated 15km off the northwest coast of Sumatra, and is home to some of the best diving throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Located along the meeting points of the Andaman, Indian and Pacific oceans, Pulau Weh boasts one of the most unique and diverse marine ecosystems found in the region, with sightings of whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, barracuda, morays and lionfish! Above water, the island continues to amaze with its volcanic jungles and palm lined beaches, providing the perfect respite after a hard days diving!


Originally part of the Aceh mountain range, several million years ago a large volcanic eruption caused a section of the mountain range to collapse into the sea; the northern most tip of the mountain range was now separated from the mainland by 15km of Andaman sea, and became known as Pulau Weh. Although the volcanic island remains active it’s last known eruption was during the Pleistocine age, anywhere from 11,000-2million years ago. That being said, the island is known for its underwater fumaroles, vents in the Earth’s surface where steam and gasses are emitted; there are several fumaroles surrounding Gapang Beach which are even suitable for diving. 


Traditionally, the economy of Pulau Weh relied on agriculture, namely coconuts, cloves and fishing; however, after the use of explosives and cyanide fishing was brought to the attention of the local authorities, the Indonesian government declared both the island and 26square kilometres of surrounding sea a wildlife protection area. The newly established protected area grew suddenly in popularity during the 90’s tourism boom, which helped establish Pulau Weh as one of the most popular diving sites in Indonesia.

What to do 

Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will find the small island of Pulau Weh a wonderful place to go underwater exploring, namely for the fantastic breadth of species found around its waters. Additionally, there is a varied range of diving options and sites, suited to all diving levels. Advanced divers might enjoy exploring the underwater volcanos, shipwrecks or the fast-paced currents out at Shark Plateau, whilst beginners will find the house reefs a fantastic place to practice their diving skills. Furthermore, diving and equipment rental, along with diving qualifications are far cheaper in Pulau Weh than found elsewhere in Indonesia. Aside from diving and snorkelling, guests also enjoy the typical beach side such as beach tennis, badminton, volleyball and sun bathing.


How to get there

Pulau Weh is also home to Monument 0, marking the northernmost point in Indonesia. The statue is a little tired, however many enjoy the views from the tower over the sea. Additionally, those interested in WWII sites can visit a Japanese bunker nestled high up in the cliff tops; once gain, although rather old and run down, there are some exceptional views to be had from the defence post. The Balohan Hill View Point is situated near by, offering some more lovely views over the sea. Please make sure you have filled up your motorbike tank if you plan to visit these areas, as they are quite far from the tourist areas (15km) with few filling stations along the way! Having said this, the people of Pulau Weh are incredibly friendly and accommodating, and have in the past helped us find more fuel when we ran out! 

We normally suggest visiting Pulau weh at the very end of your Sumatra trip. This is firstly because Bande Aceh is located so far away from the other Sumatran tourist sights, and secondly as it’s airport has many international flights, allowing you to enter or leave to Jakarta, Penang, Kuala Lumpur or even Saudi Arabia! 

No matter where you are flying from, you want to arrive in Banda Aceh as early as possible to give yourself enough time to cross over to the island. Additionally, when is comes to leaving Pulau Weh make sure your flight from Banda Aceh is after 12:00, once again affording you enough time to cross back over to the mainland. 

Flying from Medan - Pulau weh

  • The flight time from Medan to Banda Aceh is just over an hour.

  • Once you arrive in Banda Aceh you must take a taxi to the Ulee Lheue Harbour (35 mins).

  • The Express Bahari fast Ferry leaves at 08:00, 10:00 and 16:15.


PLEASE NOTE, this schedule can and will change depending on the weather conditions.


We therefore suggest getting an early flight so you arrive in Banda Aceh before 08:00, as then you will be able to get to the harbour in time to take the express Bahari Ferry at 10:00.

This will get you to Pulau Weh for about midday, meaning you have the whole afternoon to enjoy and explore your new beach location! 


Where to stay

With over 20 diving sites across the whole of the island, there are many guesthouses and diving schools eager to host you during your time in Pulau Weh. Having said this, there are several areas of the coastline which are covered in coral, making swimming and other sea side activities a little difficult or uncomfortable. 

Along Gapang beach you will find many of the renowned diving schools, our firm favourite being Lumba Lumba Diving Centre. Their cosy and breezy communal resto/chill out hut, has beautiful views over the beach and sea, whilst their bungalows are set behind the resto offering guests a little more privacy. There are two varieties of bungalow,  each with customisable sleeping arrangements (e.g. double, twin or triple), private and shared bathrooms along with modern room appliances. Prices start at 200.000p.night, depending on your selections and requests. Their diving courses are some of the best rated on the island, and at a fraction of the cost of the those in Bali!


If water access is less important to you, and you’re more concerned about sleeping in style, then look no further than the breath-taking Pulau Weh Paradise. Nestled away in a quiet corner of the island along is own private beach, Pulau Weh Paradise offers some of the most stylish and modern rooms found on the island. Inspired by light, comfort and open living, each bungalow features a sea facing glass wall, allowing visitors to capture the epic sunsets from the comfort of their bed. With air conditioning, private balconies and the possibility for interconnected rooms, the bungalows really do offer the best facilities available on the island. 

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