I was sitting on our bungalow balcony and enjoying the stunning view. I looked down at the golden sand with palm trees stretching out over the beach, kids were laughing and having fun in the ocean, tourists were snorkelling, the water so crystal clear and turquoise blue and wooden fishing boats were looking for the next spot to fish. In the background, I could hear “cock a doodle do” and Imams calling people to the mosques. This is Indonesia and I was loving it – I wish you were here!!
Pulau Weh, or Sabang as the locals call it; is an island situated in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, and is part of the Aceh province. It can be reached by boat or ferry from the mainland in Banda Aceh (the two-way ticket was 45.000 rupiahs).
With so many popular and well-known islands in Indonesia, Pulau Weh is often overlooked. I had never heard of this island until my boyfriend mentioned it to me as he had already visited this island before and as a diving instructor, he loves diving there.
However, apart from diving, the island has more things to offer – whether it’s enjoying the sunset at the most western place of Indonesia or just chilling while drinking a coconut, there is something for everyone who wants to get away from other touristic islands in the country.
So I wrote a list of my ten favourite things I did when I visited Pulau Weh.
1. STAY ON THE BEACH FRONT
While in Pulau Weh, I loved listening to the sound of the waves hitting the shores and waking up to the beautiful sunrises, which I could watch from our terrace every morning. I stayed facing the beach at Freddie’s Santai Sumurtiga, a beautiful tranquil spot, a relaxing bungalow with a sea view, which you can walk a couple of feet into the water and see vibrantly coloured tropical fish. There was a platform out in the water and I would sit on it and watch the colourful fish swimming under the aqua coloured water, it was so crystal clear.
Though the private beach was slightly rocky – I still had beautiful views of the sea while relaxing in the hammock.
2. WAKE UP EARLY FOR SUNRISE
Since there was not much to do in the evenings, we went to sleep right after the sunset and woke up before the sunrise every day. I loved this daily routine without computers or phones keeping me awake till late hours and being able to see those stunning paintings that Mother Nature created every morning.
3. TAKE A BECAK
The resort arranged a diving day trip for us together with transportation there and back. Our driver picked us up in the morning and drove us in the becak to the other side of the island, where the diving centre was located. The road is well paved with plenty of hills and turns, however, the driver didn’t slow down at all. It was the craziest ride ever and I loved it!
4. MEET LOCALS AND TRY LOCAL FOOD
We arrived at the diving centre an hour earlier so we went to have our breakfast in a nearby café with a beautiful ocean view. We were welcomed with friendly and smiling locals who prepared for us delicious local banana pancakes, fruit plates and sandwiches. What a lovely start to the day!
5. DIVING AND SNORKELLING
When in Pulau Weh, you have to go diving or at least snorkelling to explore the beauty of the open sea and its many living creatures. There are over 20 dive sites, endless reef and countless sea-life around the island, you’ll be occupied underwater for as long as you desire. However, I hadn’t been diving for almost a year and a half. I was a bit nervous, which developed into a small panic attack when I got some water in my mask and I couldn’t remember, how to get rid of it. I was breathing heavily and didn’t know how to control it and calm down. Luckily, my boyfriend is a diving instructor, so when he saw me panicking he grabbed my hands, looked into my eyes, signalled me to calm down and showed me how to get rid of the water. I’d never experienced anything like that before, so remember – staying calm is the only way, how to solve any problems under water. I hope I will never get a panic attack again! Despite the bad beginning, the rest of the dive and the second dive were amazing! We saw some black tips sharks, laced moray eels, stingrays and countless other fish. I wish I had an underwater camera! We dived with Rubiah Divers and we paid 1.000.000 rupiahs ($74) in total for 4 dives. In case you want to know more about them and their packages, visit their website.
6. ADMIRE VIEWS
On the way to the Kilometer Nol, we stopped at this amazing viewpoint. Since Pulau Weh is pretty mountainous, you can find several viewpoints with beautiful views to admire, however, this one was my favourite. The stunning scenery just took my breath away– I could see the other small islands off the coast of Pulau Weh, as well as the vast blue ocean in the distance.
7. HAVE A COCONUT
Fresh coconut drink is exactly the drink you want to have when you are relaxing in this tropical paradise. Especially when you’re having a relaxing time hanging by the beach, or admiring the views. We got ours at the viewpoint, however, you can get them at any roadside stalls, cafes or restaurants all around Pulau Weh.
8. ENJOY THE SUNSET AT KILOMETER NOL
In the evening we took our bike and drove around the island and headed to the very end point – kilometre zero. It is a significant spot for Indonesia; being the most western point of the country. The roads are well paved and so it was easy to get there while driving through the beautiful scenery. We wanted to catch the sunset, so we had another crazy ride to the other side of the island 🙂 I can now say that I have stood at the point where Indonesia begins. Now that I have been to this endpoint, I made the vow that I would then have to travel to the opposite end of Indonesia – standing at Km 0 I decided that I would just have to go to Papua.
9. VISIT LOCAL VILLAGES ON PULAU WEH
Pulau Weh is a small island– and it is easy to go around it on a bike, a becak or a taxi. You can find small towns or more likely villages which are close by. I really enjoy riding a bike through the villages watching their houses, shops, mosques and their daily way of life. Also, I found a house where I want to live in future (you can see why in the photo below) 🙂
Holidays without a little bit of relaxing are not holidays. The main reason people choose to have a vacation on Pulau Weh is for its beautiful calm beaches. Relax, chill, sleep, dive, eat and lay around all day and do nothing. Leave all your worries behind.
What else did you do there during your visit and you would recommend it to others?
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