Diving Pulau Weh (Island), Sumatra

Pulau Weh (Weh Island) or sometimes known as Pulo Weh by the locals, is a volcanic island off the coast of northwest Sumatra. The largest city in the island is Sabang. Hence the island is also sometimes known as Pulau Sabang

Pulau Weh had been well known for its ecosystem, diving and considered off the beaten track in oppose to its famous distant sister Bali of Indonesia. A part of this island had been declared as wildlife protection are by the Indonesian government because it is the home to many rare species on land wild the coral reefs are bursting with large and diverse variety of Indo-Pacific marine life.

Pulau Weh, Sabang, Sumatra, Indonesia Map

Pulau Weh, Sabang, Sumatra, Indonesia Map

Where is it

It is located on the Andaman Sea, about 15 km off the northwestern tip of Sumatra. It takes 45 minutes of a fast boat or 2 hours regular boat from Banda Aceh to Pulau Weh.

Why go

Boat at Iboih, Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Boat at Iboih, Pulau Weh. Photo by BenJam

Off the beaten track from Sumatra and one of Indonesia’s beautiful islands, this jungle island house many rare species from the land to the sea.

Also, one of the best diving site in Indonesia with 20 diving spots, though not as well known as the others but many who had dived here agree it is among the top stars.

Visiting this somewhat remote island is also suitable for conscious independent traveling where you can contribute to the locals here yourself and keep to eco-travel.

When is the best time to go

Best time to go to Pulau Weh, Sumatra is during April to November, the dry season of Indonesia tropical climate. This is the time with good weather where you can enjoy more of the sun and sea.

What to see

Not that much to see in Sabang or land, most travelers head to the beaches either Gapang beach or Iboih beach.

Iboih Beach at Pulau Weh, Sabang, Sumatra, Indonesia

Iboih Beach. Photo by hartanto

What to do

Diving of course with up to 20 dive spots around Pulau Weh to choose from and it is known as one of Indonesia’s best diving site!

Here are the top dive spots in/around Pulau Weh:

Arus Balee – with water passage around a rocky pinnacle between islands of Seulako and Rubiah, offering chance of drift diving in strong currents
Batee Meuduro – an hour south of Pulau Weh, worthy to go to for being a top site where you can chance upon several species of shark
Gapang house reef – famous for its dense marine life
Pulau Rubia for a lush coral garden that drops 30 meters.
Batee Tokong – steep and rich with marine life, this 40 meters downwards wall will be sure to delight
Pantee Aneuk – lined with caves, arches, wall and canyongs that many divers love to explore.
Pantee Peunateung – famous for the 70 meters drop off that boasts wild marines like baraccuda.
Sophie Rickmers – for impressive wreck dive, this is a cargo steam ship built back in 1920 in Germany, which sunk at the bay of Pria Laot. Decompression dive is needed here.
Sabang harbour – for shallower wreck dive of a tugboat

Diving Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Diving Pulau Weh. Photo by Eric Beerkens

Where to stay

Stay in the island’s main city Sabang for various choices ranging from hostels to guesthouses and hotels. People tend to either stay at the center of Sabang or along the guesthouses at Iboih beach *.

-> Find the best hotel deals on Pulau Weh at Booking.com *

How to get there

Ferry from Banda Aceh, Sumatra to Sabang, Pulau Weh.

Ferry Banda Aceh to Sabang, Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Ferry Banda Aceh to Sabang. Photo by Franc López

Fast ferry/boat, it will take about 45 minutes at 60000-80000RP. It leaves everyday 9.30am and 4pm from Banda Aceh and 8.30am and 4pm from Sabang. The fast boat is call Pulo Rondo .

Slow ferry/boat will take about 2 hours and cheaper priced at 18000-32000Rp. It leaves Banda Aceh at 2 pm and from Sabang, Pulau Weh at 8 am.

How to get around

You can rent a motorbike to go around on Pulau Weh or rent a minivan and guide if you are in a group.

Where to go nearby

Being at the northernmost tip of Indonesia off Sumatra, there is nowhere else to go but back to Banda Aceh. From Banda Aceh you can make your way to Bukit Lawang for Orang Utan or chill at famous Lake Toba.

Sabang, Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Sabang, Pulau Weh. Photo by Franc López

Travel Tips

Tsunami struck Banda Aceh at 2004 and had heavily affected Pulau Weh too. At 2005, the reefs of Pulau Weh was surveyed at depths and was reported that most sites are still alright especially those deeper than 10m. For some shallow areas, the reefs are damaged, and out of the chartered dive sites, only reefs at Rubiah/Iboih was affected. Restoration efforts are also being looked into.

Related articles:
Lake Toba
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Sumatra
Sumatran Orangutan Trekking at Bukit Lawang

Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together. Google+

14 thoughts on “Diving Pulau Weh (Island), Sumatra”

  1. Nice writeup Rachel. Am hoping to get there for February (not optimum but needs must). The island you have marked on your map in Nicobar, not Weh. Weh is much much closer. Thanks again, have a good dive.

  2. Gapang Beach would be your number one option: the dive operator there is Lumba Lumba. They took me on many unbelievable diving trips including a 45+m shipwreck (20 minutes bottom time plus 1 hour to get back to the surface. The u/w life is abundant. You can see schools of bump-head parrot fish, manta rays, frogfish, schools of trevallies, and I even saw a sunfish and a blue marlin. Viz is also usually good (10-50m), and there can be very strong currents, so many dive sites are advanced.

  3. Hi Rachel,

    Is it children friendly? My youngest is 5 yrs old but loves swimming. We do not dive, only snorkel. Would you still recommend Weh for my family of 2 adult 4 children?

  4. Hi,
    There in Weh for just 2nights 2 days.
    April last week 2016.
    Any tips? Things not to be missed?
    First Time Snorkeling/diving.
    Appreciate any info.
    Thanks.

  5. Hi, im woundering what about wearing bikinis? I really want go do snorkiling but i consure litlle how to wear and what wear.

  6. In the, map the island marked as Pulau Weh is one of Nicobar Is., India… Pulau Weh is just next to Sumatra.

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