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

Top 10 Places to Surf in Indonesia

Indonesia is not unknown to many surfers around the world to have many perfect surf spots around its many beautiful islands surrounded by many choices of waves. Be it that you are an advanced surfer or a beginner, you will be sure to find a place to surf here.

Many surf travelers will come to Indonesia for its perfect surf breaks, white sand beaches, warm and sunny weather and local friendly people. This is almost a perfect setting to make Indonesia an ultimate surfer’s paradise.

The swells come from the south and southwest of Indonesia, so all the coastlines facing in these directions will get a good amount of waves to surf. This includes places like Bali, Lombok, Java, Sumatra, Flores, Sumbawa, Sumba and Timor, just to name a few of the thousands of islands in Indonesia.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Places to Surf in Indonesia:

Surf waves in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Surf waves in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia


Bali

With as many as 100 surf spots in Bali, it can be best known for surfing in Indonesia, not just because it is the main tourist place in Indonesia. Bali is known for surfing places like Padang and Uluwatu which is famous for its entry cave. The full force of wind comes from southern ocean swell therefore, its southwest or southeast coasts are dotted with many surf spots. Come during the dry season from June to September for perfect surf conditions though this is also the peak season so be prepared for the crowd.

-> Find places to stay in Bali at Agoda.com *

Surfing in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Surfing in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Lombok

Next to Bali, is the less crowded Lombok but no less in beauty. This may be your answer to perfect surf without fighting for space. One of the famous secret yet not so secret anymore surf place is The Desert Point. There are good surf breaks here in surf spots like Mawi, Mawun and Point X along the southern coast of Lombok. The best season to come here to surf is from April to October and the swell comes from southern wind as well.

-> Read Bali Travel Guide
-> See Surfing at Kuta, Bali
-> Check out the Best Beachfront Resorts in Bali

-> Find places to stay in Lombok at Agoda.com *

Surf Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Surf Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan or Gili Air

Two of the three famous Gili Islands in Lombok deserve top places on their own for having own unique surf breaks. Though the frequency is not as good as the other spots in Lombok, this place promises good surf for the experienced surfers if they manage to catch the breaks. Many of the locals come here to enjoy the surf in secret and when in good timing it will swell more than you expect but do be careful as it can be unexpected.

->Guide to Gili Air, Lombok
-> Find the Best Accommodations in Gili Trawangan
-> Read Top 10 Things to Do on the Gili Islands

-> Find places to stay on Gili Trawangan at Booking.com *

Surfing in Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

Surfing in Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

Sumba Islands in East Nusa Tenggara

In the East Nusa Tenggara, the waves are different from the rest of Indonesia. If you don’t mind the basic setup of this place, then you will be rewarded with high-quality waves in between major breaks. Nihiwatu offers many reefs, bays and river mouths and the waves are just insane. Go during the dry season of March to October for the Indian Ocean swells, which can be up to 12-15 feet high from the southwest direction. The wind here does not blow consistently though unlike Bali nearby.

Sumbawa Islands, Lesser Sunda

Finally an excellent surf place for all levels of surfer, this site gives a massive swell to break before sucking out on the inside reef. Located east of Lombok, you may find it less touristy and more space for you to surf. Go to offshore for good surf breaks. Best time to come here is also the dry season from April to October for its southwest wind.

Surf Lakey Peak, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

Surf Lakey Peak, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

Panaitan Islands in West Java

At West Java, facing the southwestern wind from the Indian Ocean, Panaitan offers one of the best waves in Indonesia. You will find good waves here with less the crowd in comparison to places like Bali and Lombok. The dry season of April to October is the best time to come for reliable surf breaks. The surfing spots like Apocalypse in Panaitan Islands had been touted to be epic where if you score this place you will get tubed.

Grajagan (G-Land) in East Java

Another epic surf place that many people love, where it is touted to be adventurous with minimal crowd. It has different sections along 2km long point, from hollow walls to shallow and dangerous reef. G-land also has world-class barrels on lower tides and bigger days but be careful of sharp reefs at the break, therefore booties are a must. It is also known of its consistent offshore trade winds.

Surf G-Land, Java, Indonesia

Surf G-Land, Java, Indonesia

Mentawai Islands in Sumatra

At the West of Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands have the most consistent surf breaks in Indonesia making it one of the preferred choices for serious surfers. Surfing spots here include like E’bay, Beng-beng, Nipussi and Pitstop. Best time to come here is during the dry season of May to October. Here you can get many islets and flawless reef with sun blue waters, and also offshore winds and spitting tubes. The most choices of places to stay on Mentawai Islands would be on the big island of Pulau Siberut *. You may also find some remote and luxurious choices at Sipora Island, for example, the Simakakang Villa *.

-> See Guide to the Mentawai Islands, Sumatra

-> Find places to stay on Mentawai Islands at Agoda.com *

Hinako Islands in North Sumatra

Remote location that takes you into the deep water trenches which funnel in the southwest Indian ocean swell. Here choose Asu or Bawa for its reputation for consistent overhead surf. You get surfing on outer-islands reefs and crystal clear water. Come here in between May to October during dry season for the best surfs.

Surfing Mentawai Island, Sumatra, Indonesia

Surfing Mentawai Island, Sumatra, Indonesia

Nias Islands in West Sumatra

Nias Island is famous internationally as a surfing destination with the famous Sorake Bay. This place provides both left and right-hand breaks. Although it saw fewer travelers due to the earthquakes in 2004 and 2005, it had picked up again in recent years, and as always the waves still rush to shore. Like Hinako Islands, come here during the dry season of May to October too.

Photo credits from top: Madeleine Holland, Siim Teller, Mike Slagter, Mike Slagter, Edouard Brèthes, Sunova Surfboards, Imanol Sorazu and clogwog

Related articles:
Top 10 Diving Sites in Indonesia
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Kuta, Bali: Surfing and Nightlife

Guide to Trekking Mount Rinjani, Lombok

Mount Rinjani in Lombok is the second highest volcano in Indonesia right after Mount Kerinci in Sumatra and one of the most popular trekking spots in Indonesia. This streneous hike may be one of the greatest challenge in life but if you succeed, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise and a view over the whole island including the Gilis and even Bali.

Standing at 3,726 m in the north center, Mount Rinjani takes a good chunk of whole Lombok and its massive caldera of 50 km square holds a crater lake called Segara Anak (Child of Sea), which has a natural hot spring. The Gunung Baru, a new volcano forming in the crater lake, is one of the most active volcanos in Indonesia, similarly to Mount Bromo in Java and adds to the scenery as an incredible landmark.

Mount Rinjani had been proposed by the government to UNESCO to be one of the world’s first official geoparks if approved.

-> Jump to Guide to Trekking Mount Rinjani
-> Find out Where to Stay near Mount Rinjani

Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok


Where is it

Mount Rinjani is situated inside Mount Rinjani National Park at Lombok, Indonesia. The national park is a 41,000 hectares of mountain and surrounding forests that represents the Nusa Tenggara ecosystem.

Map of Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Map of Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok

Why go

To be awe in nature’s best combination of beauty and danger, an active volcano that can be so foreboding and desolate yet so beautiful. The demanding trek requires three days to conquer the mountain and will make it all worthwhile when greeted by the breathtaking view including sunrise at the summit. For people with less time, two days trek are available but you will miss some of the experience as you won’t go down into the crater, take a dip in the crater lake and relax in the soothening hotsprings.

Panorama view of Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Panorama view of Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok

When is the best time to go

Weather at Mount Rinjani is like the rest of Indonesia, divided into two seasons – dry and wet season and the temperatures are quite even.

Best time to go is May – November during the dry season where there is less rain but more tourists. This is also the safest time to do trekking.

Time to avoid going is January – March when the park is normally closed due to heavy rain.

At other times, it is possible to trek Mt Rinjani mostly due to the tropical climate but please do not attempt to climb Mount Rinjani during lots of rain time because the path may be treacherous. Always check out for local weather before attempting the trek.

Also try to avoid weekends if you do not want the crowd.

Crater Lake and Gunung Baru, Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Crater Lake and Gunung Baru, Rinjani, Lombok

What to see

Mount Rinjani, no description needed.

Segara Anak Lake, the vast crater lake with a new cone forming in it, called Gunung Baru.

Mulang Pakelem – the annual Hindu ceremony at the crater lake, dated back to 18th century when the Balinese invaded Lombok. You will get to see hundreds of white-clad Hindu pilgrims sitting and praying at the lake.

During rice-planting season, local people have ceremonies on Mt Rinjani and Segara Anak lake where they release small artificial fish made of very thin gold into the lake.

What to do

Sendang Gile Waterfalls, Senaru, Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Sendang Gile Waterfalls, Senaru, Rinjani, Lombok

Other than trekking and summit Mount Rinjani, you can:

Explore Gua Susu (Susu Cave) – one of the famous caves in Rinjani worth visiting. The other two caves that you can explore is Gua Payung and Gua Manik.
Enjoy the natural hot springs in Aik Kalak at the crater rim

Explore local villages at Senaru and nice waterfalls around the area or at Sembalun Lawang where you can find weaving villages.

Trekking Mount Rinjani

Usually the trek starts either at Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. In both villages are plenty of travel agencies offering 2-3 days treks including – next to their guidance – water, food and accommodation in tents for a reasonable price. You can book online if you are on a tight schedule or just show up and find a party leaving the next day or the day after. It is not recommended to try the trek on your own as even though the route is quite easy, it is really physically demanding. Also make sure to bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves. Trekking agencies usually can provide sleeping bags and mats, sometimes even extra clothing if you are in need.

You can go the full route starting either at Senaru or Sembalun:

Senaru – Summit – Sembalun
On the first day, you hike up from Senaru to the crater rim and take your camp. On the second day you go down into the caldera, taking a relaxing bath in the hot springs, even swim in the crater lake if you like. You hike up the crater rim at the opposite site and take your camp. On the third day, you start hiking at 2-3 am to the summit. If you make it, you reach the top towards sunrise and get rewarded with a stunning view. After that you trek down to the camp and finally to Sembalun.

Campsite at Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok,Indonesia

Campsite at Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok,

Sembalun – Summit – Senaru
You start at Sembalun and hike up to the crater rim to take your camp. On the second day you start hiking at 2-3 am to the summit. Same as the other way, if you make it, you reach the top towards sunrise and get rewarded with a stunning view. After returning to the camp you descend into the caldera and take a soothening bath in the hot springs (this is really awesome after climbing the summit at the same day). You hike up at the opposite side to the rim and take your camp. On the third day you descend to Senaru.

If you have less time and only want to spend two days and one night you can start at Sembalun, hike to the summit at the second day and go back to Sembalun without descending into the crater.

Hike and climb to the summit of Mount Rinjani

Climbing to Summit of Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Climbing to Summit of Mount Rinjani, Lombok

You start at the crater rim around 2-3am in order to catch the sunrise at the peak. The path is difficult as its steep and and the ground is mostly soft sand that means for every two steps forward you might drop one step back. Furthermore, the way is fully exposed that means there can be strong winds and it can be really freezing. This said, this trek is really not an easy one and you should bring a decent physical fitness. If you do manage to make it to the top (quite many won’t due to exhaustion, so be prepared!), the view is magnificent and well worth it looking at the crater and all the way to the island of Bali and the Gilis while surrounded by giant clouds. The photography here is also out of the world!

Take extra precautions and safety when you plan to trek up Mount Rinjani and whether you want to reach the summit or not. There have been reports of fatalities here. The trek is also challenging and not to be taken lightly. Make sure your guide are well concerned with the safety of everyone. Also stay informed with the volcanic activities as it is still an active volcano.

Also please keep the mountain clean and do your bit to clean up after yourself. It is also recommended to take a guide or join a hiking trip up Mount Rinjani for safety. If possible, choose an agency that takes responsibility in keeping the mountain clean and carry the groups waste back down.

Where to stay

You cannot stay within the park itself but can always find various guesthouses and basic hotels at Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. The popular ones are Green Haven Homestays, Matra Bungalows and Rinjani Lodge *. If you want to go upmarket a little, at northwest Tanjung can be of choice. Many other travelers normally stay at Senggigi * instead and travel to Mount Rinjani by road for trekking.

You should decide on your accommodation base on which route you are taking to trek Mount Rinjani.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Mt. Rinjani at Booking.com *

How to get there

The popular way to get here is via Senaru village on the north of Mount Rinjani, it is also closer to the popular resort areas such as Senggigi.
Mataram-Selong-Sambelia-Sembalun Lawang
Another way of getting there is via Sembalun Lawang entry point on the east of Mount Rinjani, and at 1,150 m, it is closer to the summit from here.

Fees / permit cost
The entry to the national park costs IDR 150,000 / person. Most times this is included in your trek package but do check before you sign on to any.

Trekking Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok,Indonesia

Trekking Mount (Gunung) Rinjani, Lombok,

Where to go nearby

Back to Lombok beaches like Kuta beach or Senggigi and Tanjung.

Sail to nearby Gili Islands for an escapade, and there are a few more mountains for you to climb if you haven’t had enough.

Anak Segara Lake at Mount Rinjani, Lombok,Indonesia

Anak Segara Lake at Mount Rinjani, Lombok,

Travel Tips

Always be safe and check the seismic activities report or on local media. This is a very active volcano therefore extra precaution for safety is recommended. Last Rinjani eruption was on 23 May 2010.

Some people might hit altitude sickness here, so know yourself.

Mount (Gunung) Rinjani in clouds, Lombok, Indonesia

Mount (Gunung) Rinjani in clouds, Lombok

Bring a jacket and gloves as it may get chilly up there. Remember proper attire like windproof clothes and appropriate hiking boots and headlamp.

Also, do not forget your sunblock as you can get sunburn easier the higher you go.

Photo credits from top: NeilsPhotography, Paul Hessels, NeilsPhotography, Blek, Jos Dielis, Trekking Rinjani, Trekking Rinjani, Paul Hessels and Trekking Rinjani

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Rock Climber’s Paradise in Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Java

I joined a group of rock climbers to Siung beach out of curiosity. Through approximately three hours journey from Jogyakarta, we arrived at a white sand beach surrounded by cliffs. We did outdoor rock climbing in oppose to the usual indoor climbing or wall climbing in Indonesia.

We headed directly to a shelter where climbers usually stay. It’s mbah (grandpa/grandma) Wasto’s house, Kedai Panjat Moroseneng. He built parking area, a big hall with small rooms, toilets, and warung. I heard that mbah Wasto was the first man that greeted some climbers and offered a place for them to rest.

White Sand at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

White Sand at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

As there are more tourists coming to Siung beach, some people established their business by following what mbah Wasto had started. Still, you would not find electricity or network service here. I think this is a perfect escape from the hectic city life.

You can feel the breeze while drinking Es Kelapa Muda. You can swim with the fish in the pristine water. You can even see the Milky Way on the clear night sky! Especially for rock climbers, this is heaven.

Rock at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Rock at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Siung is claimed to have 250 climbing routes! There are eleven sectors (named alphabetically) with various grade from 5.9 to 5.13b. I tried an easy route in sector D (5.10). It was a real torture for a novice like me, but if you’re a rock climber, you’ll be done in five minutes and ready for the next cliff.

Outdoor Rock Climbing Must Do Routes

Rock Climbing at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Rock Climbing at Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

According to climbers’ suggestions:
1. Kuda Laut (5.11/9 bolts), which means sea horse. It has a sea horse-like stone on top of the route.
2. Arek Soro (5.13b/6 bolts+anchor), one of the hardest routes.
3. Who Are U (5.11d/5 bolts), another hardest one.
4. Pacaran (5.9a/4 bolts), that has beautiful view of the beach and eighty meter cliffs on sector F.
5. Vertical Orgasm (5.11/8 bolts), the highest cliff, around one hundred and twenty meters height.

So, what are you waiting for? Plenty of cliffs to conquer in Siung for your rock climbing holidays!

Siung Rock Climbing Travel Guide

How to get there

Bus from Prambanan market to Piyungan then transfer to another bus to Tepus and then transfer one more time to Purwodadi. It costs around IDR 5,000 each. Proceed with ojek from Purwodadi to Siung Beach IDR 10,000 – 15,000.

Some bus drivers will offer you direct drive to Siung beach for IDR 200,000 – 250,000. If you can split the cost with your friends, that would be more convenient. If you have fixed schedule, maybe you can make an appointment for pick up. BUT, remember that you may not be able to contact them since there won’t be network service available.

Rent a car for IDR 200,000 – 250,000 per day and use GPS.

Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Siung Beach, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Where to stay

Mbah Wasto offers free space but you just pay for your meal of around IDR 8,000 each meal.
Or camp by the beach.

What and where to eat

If you stay at Mbah Wasto, you are lucky as they cook very good local food. The sambal is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
If you camp by the beach, then you will have to eat your own food or buy from warung

Travel Tips

Make sure that you bring all the equipments you need. Contact a guide if necessary.

Eva Indonesia Travel Guide
The blend of curiosity and courage brings Eva to travel and explore exotic places. She believes that traveling is a journey of learning, a wide opened door into experience and wisdom. Got lost so many times made her decided to share more information on her travel blog and established an outdoor tour guide service in her hometown. Find Eva at her travel blog – Traveling and Discerning.

Related articles:
Yogyakarta Travel Guide
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