Location of Pulau Weh (Sabang) from Banda Aceh
Pulau Weh, locally known as Sabang, is an island that looks like the rest of rural Sumatra, with the added bonus of diving schools, delicious food, even more jungle and beautiful beaches.
Getting to Pulau Weh
There are two fast boats to Sabang. The fast boat leaves from the port of Ulee Lheue about 5 kilometres north of central Banda Aceh. The fast boat usually leaves at 9am and 4pm. Sometimes it leaves at 2pm, you will need to check when you get there, because we thought one left at 2pm, but it was not leaving until 4pm. The cheapest ticket gets you entry into a furnace located on board, an extra 10,000Rp buys you air-conditioning, but no windows. If you get sea sick you might as well get a cheap ticket early, dump your bags somewhere not in the way and sit outside.
To get to the ferry terminal we took a becak from Little Jhon. He has a blue tuk tuk and the only one advertising free WiFi. Prices negotiable. He had a website on the side of his tuk tuk but it did not work. Little Jhon is really great, if you can find him he will help you out.
Pulau Weh (Sabang)
Sabang is about an hours boat trip from Ulee Lheue and quite a beautiful island. We stayed at Iboih Beach, which is about a 45 minute becak, or public bus ride from the arrival port of Pulau Weh.
Located just past Gapang Beach, Iboih Beach is an idyllic location for the diver, the book reader or the general thinker. It is about one hour’s walk from point zero. Point Zero is the easterly most point of Indonesia.
We stayed at Oongs Bungalows are these are highly recommended. Norma is the owner, who also cooks nightly family dinners where a huge batch of food is cooked for everyone to sit around the dinner table and share. At the time of writing the bungalows ranged from 60,000Rp – 150,000Rp per night, dependent on where the bungalow was and how long you were staying. Dinners were 25,000Rp per person. Some of the bungalows have a picturesque ocean view look out on to the island of Rubiah. The others are set further back in the jungle vegetation.
There are a few excellent places to eat in Iboih Beach. Dolphin Restaurant near the diving shop makes an excellent vegetable curry, while Dee Dee’s also has an equally mouth watering selection of light foodstuffs. Make sure you order at least one avocado shake while on Sabang, you will not regret it.
Bixio is an Italian restaurant that is about 40mins walk east from Iboih Beach located on Long Beach and is closed on Tuesday. Food served is a mix of homemade Italian and Indonesian and is worth the walk.
Yulia’s has a restaurant with an excellent view, but the food is not that nice and it takes an age to come out.
Iboih Inn also has an equally beautiful view from the restaurant but the food is mediocre and bungalows far to overpriced.
Home High is located just before Dee Dee and also has excellent food. It never looks that busy, but do not be fooled, the food is delicious.
Because Pulau Weh is part of Aceh, alcohol is prohibited, consumption of which attracts the punishment of 40 lashings. It is hard to get access to alcohol but it is possible.
Not being qualified as a diver I cannot impart any wisdom in this respect. However I have heard that diving off Pulau Weh is the best in the Indian Ocean. Moray eels, sharks and lion fish are in abundance and most dive spots are quite close to Iboih Beach.
The island opposite Iboih Beach is called Rubiah and it is possible to swim here, or kayak. It has been said that Rubiah Island was used as a quarantine island for pilgrims returning from Meccah. There is some interesting folk-lore related to this island, ask some locals when you visit.