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Pulau Weh – Do Snorkelling, Diving or Sod All!

Pulah Weh – A Hidden Gem!

Pulau Weh is an island off the coast of Banda Aceh.  It’s probably one of the best little bays I have ever visited.

This post is definitely for those of you who are trapped in the office (or your fluorescent prison)!

Have a look at what was my office today:

Yes, it was pretty hard to take.

If your main passions are snorkelling and diving, then Pulau Weh is definitely for you. The main snorkelling and diving beachs at Pulau Weh are at Gapang and Iboih.

To get there, you have to catch a ride to the Uleh-leh port from Banda Aceh city.  The fast ferry takes about 45 minutes to get to Pulau Weh and leaves twice a day.  When you get to Pulau Weh, you have to catch a bemo (minibus) to Gapang or Iboih which is about 40 minutes away via a pictueresque, hilly drive through a number of rustic villages.

Basically, you can turn up to either Gapang or Iboih, see which bungalows you like, and stay there for a while – from about 50000 Indonesian Rupiah, or about $USD7-8 per night.

Pulau Weh Pictures

An example of one of these bungalows is shown below.

There are loads of coral reefs that are an easy swimming distance from the shore.  If you are into diving, there are PADI dive operators that can take you to places further out to explore other dive spots.  I took this shot of a boatload of people about to be transported to coral reefs further out from Gapang.

Otherwise, if you don’t feel like snorkelling or diving in the Indian Ocean, for a change, you can do sod all and sit in one of the few, laid back beachside cafes that serve up reasonably priced, and quite tasty food.

There’s no beer here.  So if you want to detox as well, Pulau Weh is also great for that.

Imagine copping this sight every day for a week at lunch, breakfast, and dinner.  Terrible, isn’t it?

What I like best about Pulau Weh is that it is not geared for tourism at all.

You don’t get hassled by anyone to buy anything, and like everywhere else I’ve been to in Aceh, the people are always smiling and say hello.  People just go about their business on Pulau Weh, and you are invited to take part, or just do your own thing.

It’s so laid back, you may never want to set foot into an office ever again!

Kids play happily on the beach on their swings, and say hello when you walk past.  These two little tigers were happy to pose for me – and they were really polite!

People fish off the nearby jetty and throw their lines in, hoping for a bite from one of the many fish swimming past.  Just be careful not to swim too close to the jetty, or you might be the largest fish this guy has ever landed!

So if your office is feeling just a tad stale, I highly recommend going to Pulau Weh to chill out for a while!

More Pulau Weh Stuff

Also check out Diving Indonesia: A Guide to the World’s Greatest Diving.

Air Asia flies regularly to Banda Aceh from Kuala Lumpur.  Make sure you obtain your Indonesian visa before going, because there are no ‘Visa On Arrival’ facilities at Banda Aceh Airport.  Otherwise, the friendly staff at Air Asia will not let you on the plane!

About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn't meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

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  1. Fadli Idris Fadli Idris
    October 2, 2009    

    next month the Indonesian government has imposed a visa on arrival at the Sultan Iskandar Muda (SIM) airport Banda Aceh.

  2. October 2, 2009    

    It looks (and sounds) beautiful, but…… beer ?? 🙁 🙁

    • H.Richersen H.Richersen
      April 29, 2010    

      Halo travellers,

      Some weeks ago I made my first trip to Sumatra Island. Really interesting and worth to visit. Some travelers I met told me about Aceh and a small island in front of Banda Aceh – Pulau Weh.
      As usual I went to an internet shop and tried to find more information.
      By Bus and Ferry I arrived the port of Banda Aceh – next time better I will take an Airplane to Banda Aceh 
      I tell you something – better forget all you can reed about Pulau Weh special the official Websites of Tourist department.
      I asked Taxi drivers at the Port Balohan (Pulau Weh) where best to go. Most answered with Gapang and Iboih and others offered me Freddy’s Santai Sumor Tiga what means the three wells.

      My first mistake – I didn’t follow my stomach. So I took a transport to Iboih and Gapang (it’s not a Taxi) it’s more like what you find by scrap dealer. Smelly, hot and f…expansive.
      After more than one hour in this vehicle together with seven other People, Vegetables and a lot of luggage we reached Iboih. The horror began. What there was called Bungalow is even not easy to describe. Rough Wooden planks – some already rotten – just nailed together and some with space between so wind and rain blow in.  it was a rainy day! Inside a lousy mattress and something what looks like a small table. No Toilet, no Water. I don’t want to blame someone, so I don’t want name it. OK it was really cheap, but I want to make holiday. So I tried to find other accommodations. At least there where some others, little bit better. People told me is made from Shelter after Tsunami. If you ask me – tasteless and to expensive.
      I decide to go back and try other places but it’s already afternoon and I’m hungry.
      My next mistake. All “Restaurants” looks same and offer also the same food. I like it spicy but this was too much for my stomach.

      After this I just want go back to City Sabang and try to find out something better. No Taxi, no transportation available at this time – but maybe a car will pass by and take me with. Lucky wise really someone came and stopped. He is also German and we talked a lot. Really nice Guy and his Wife is Indonesian but speak also very well German. To late he told me, that he own also some Bungalow in Iboih Area named Tien`s Place and is on the way to Kilometer Nol. He advised me to visit the east cost of Pulau Weh, a new Tourist destination for People who not only looking for low budged accommodations or diving. And with a smile…a real cold beer you can find easily.

      Arrived at the City I follow his advice and took a Becak. Where to go? I tried to ask the driver and his answer “Freddy Freddy”. OK bring my there.
      …And my holiday began.
      I found in Internet already many statements about this place, so I don’t need to repeat. A really nice Place, excellent food and very friendly. Next to this Place is an other Place named Casa Nemo, also nice Place but very difficult to go in and out. You must really climb and for not so sportive or older People like me too difficult. In Freddy’s you must also climb but there are many other things that let you forget.
      During one of my walks – I like to walk – I saw an Advertisement of a new Hotel Resort located in Anoi Itam what means black sand. It named RASA SENI and is just 6 Kilometer from Sumor Tiga. I’m curious and let me bring there.
      The Driver follows the one and only road always along the sea. Beautiful few. The colors of the sea are turquoise, dark blue, light blue and silver. It’s fascinating.

      After about ten minutes we arrive to Anoi Itam Area. On a Place named Benteng what means Bunker and is an old Japanese fortress the well made street ended abrupt. Benteng is on a small hill and gives you few to a Bay and the wide of Malacca Strait.
      Where is this Hotel – it seems after Benteng will be nothing anymore. I ask the driver and he just smiled – lima ratus meter (500 meter), ok 500 meter but what can be in this Area?

      We arrive – nice Place – very different already from outside but not yet very special. The road is still in old condition and than I go inside. Wow, this Place is soo different to any other Place I have seen on this island. Exotic, Stile, Taste and high standard – that’s just some words I can find so fast. Nothing to climb, beach (black sand) direct in front. Exotic garden that you really feel like in Bali or other exotic places.

      I want to see the rooms. And again wow. You can really call it luxury and any comfort. Clean is not the right word – it’s really clean and you feel well.
      It’s cool inside and no Mosquito. Sure coz all rooms have air condition and that close to sea no Mosquito, just birds and butterfly’s. It’s a real relaxing place – the right place for people who like nature and want enjoy there spare time with lot space of privacy.

      Beautiful Restaurant with panorama view over the Bay, excellent and delicious food (Asian and Western), Café-Bar, Sun chairs and outdoor Shower are available and the staff is very friendly and well trained.
      The Price is a little bit higher than the others, but compare to standard and to the other places are cheap. Also sometimes have special Offers – you should ask.

      But find out by yourself and maybe you will feel same like me…Next time I will spend my whole holiday there and try to dive and snorkel – also available there.

      There is a website:

      By the way – I visited Tien`s Place – if you really want to Iboih Area – it’s recommended.

  3. pixie pixie
    October 3, 2009    

    No BEER!!!! NOOOOOO!

  4. Bernard Bernard
    March 9, 2010    

    Anyone did any snorkelling just out of gapang beach where you don’t need to take a boat out. How was it and was it very interesting? I will be going in April 2010 and wonder if this is the correct timing to go to the island.

    • March 9, 2010    

      I think any time of year is fine to go – Banda Aceh is close to the equator, and you should be well and truly past the wet season. I went during October, and it was great!

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