Pulau Weh, or Sabang as the locals call it; is an island situated off the coast of the northern tip of Sumatra island in Indonesia. It is part of the province of Aceh, and can be reached by boat or ferry from the mainland at Banda Aceh. Noted for its beautiful natural environment, most of the surrounding area around this small active volcanic island (about 150 square kilometers) has been declared a wildlife protection area.
With so many popular and well-known islands in Indonesia, Pulau Weh is often overlooked. I have never heard of this island until quite recently; when I was told about its beautiful underwater world. Most people head to the island to dive.
However, apart from its oceanic treasures,the island offers something for the non-divers too– whether it’s discovering the volcanic mountains or just chilling by the seaside resorts, there is something for anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, or the many other ‘touristic’ islands in the country. When I visited Pulau Weh, these are the 10 things I enjoyed doing.
1) Go Diving or Snorkeling
When in Pulau Weh, dive. Snorkel. Explore the beauty of the open sea and its many living creatures. There are tons of dive and snorkelling centers around the beach areas of Iboih and Gapang to choose from. With over 20 dive sites, endless reef and a myriad of beautiful sea-life around the island, you’ll be occupied underwater for as long as you desire.
Read about my diving adventures in Pulau Weh here:- Diving in Pulau Weh, Indonesia.
2) Stay on the Beachfront
While in Pulau Weh, I loved waking up in the morning to the sound of the waves hitting the shores. I stayed facing the beach at the Pade Dive Resort, and though the private beach was slightly rocky and difficult to access– I still had beautiful views of the sea while having a cuppa on the room deck.
There are many beach huts and backpacker style chalets at the beach in Iboih, and slightly more secluded ones along the beach in Gapang.
3) Stand at Kilometer Nol
There is not much to see at Kilometer Nol, or Zero, at Pulau Weh– the monument is still under construction. However, it is a significant spot for Indonesia; being the most western point of the country. I can now say that I have stood at the point where a part of Indonesia begins.
Head there as the day ends, as the scenery from the cliff overlooking the ocean offers one of the most breathtaking sunsets.
4) Admire the Views
Pulau Weh is pretty mountainous, with its winding and narrow roads going up and down the slopes around the the island. And along the roads at higher elevations, there are beautiful views to admire.
I stopped a couple of times at several viewpoints. 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.
5) Visit the Volcanoes
Indonesia is located on the Ring of Fire that stretches over most of the country. Pulau Weh is part of the volcano range connected to the larger Sumatra island, and therefore, volcanic activities can be seen around the island.
One place to witness it is at the Jaboi Volcano Crater. Walking around, I noticed yellow colored rocks formed by sulfur minerals, small mud pools, as well as heat and gas emanating from the white ashy rocks. The land around the crater is barren, warm and… well, smelly.
6) Drop by the Towns and Villages
Pulau Weh is a small island– and it’s not difficult to head from one town or village to the next. Sabang is the main town of the island, with a small harbour and several colonial buildings; as well lodges, shops and restaurants.
Most people head to the beach towns of Iboih and Gapang. I spent most of my time around Iboih, a small sleepy town with shops centered along a sandy paved street. It was relaxing just sitting down at one of the roadside stalls– watching the children play and the locals going about their daily chores.
7) Take a Sunset Boat Ride
There is nothing like watching the sunset out in the open sea– a view of the ocean that never ends, gentle waves rocking the boat, and an atmosphere of peace, calm and quiet.
It was in the spur of the moment that we decided to hire a boat for some (almost) alone time to watch the sky change colors and the sun disappear over the horizon. It was a beautiful moment, and I’m glad I did it.
8) Eat Local Food
As they always say, eat as the locals do. And in Pulau Weh, there is no shortage of yummy local food to get your hands on.
I had the most delicious Sate Gurita (squid satay) with bubu kacang (peanut) and padang (curry) sauce at the Taman Wisata Kuliner in Sabang; the iconic Mee Sedap/Sabang in the town center; as well as some pretty awesome local dishes and grilled fish at the Babah Alue Restaurant in Iboih.
9) Have Coconut Everywhere
This goes without saying– when you’re having a relaxing time hanging by the beach, or admiring the views, the one thing that can add an extra uhmph! to it all is a fresh coconut drink. You can get them at any roadside stalls, cafes or restaurants all around Pulau Weh.
The weather can get pretty warm too– so coconuts became my instant ‘cooling down’ fix.
10) Chill and Do Nothing
The main reason people choose to vacation at Pulau Weh is for its beautiful beaches. Relax, chill, sleep, lie around all day and do nothing. Leave all the worries behind.
There are quiet spots to be found at the main beach of Iboih– but if you prefer a little more privacy, Gapang beach offers more seclusion. You can also head to the other beaches like Long Beach and Sumur Tiga Beach.
Find out more on how to get to get to Pulau Weh and accommodations; as well as dive centers and diving opportunities around the island here:- Diving in Pulau Weh, Indonesia.