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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Where to stay
Stay in the island’s main city Sabang for various choices on backpackers hostels or guesthouse mainly at Iboih beach.
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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 .
How to get there
Ferry from Banda Aceh, Sumatra to Sabang, Pulau Weh.
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.
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.