The mountainous province of Aceh consists of the entire northern tip of Sumatra, and guards the entrance to the most important sea-route of Asia: Malacca Strait. Almost all traffic over sea between West and East passes this sea-lane, and Aceh has been the first land for Arab and Indian merchants for centuries.
Weh Island or Pulau Weh or Pulo Weh (by the local population commonly referred to only as "Sabang", the name of the largest city) is a small active volcanic island to the northwest of Sumatra. It was originally connected to the Sumatran mainland and became separated by sea after the volcano's last eruption in the Pleistocene era. The island is situated in the Andaman Sea. The largest city on the island, Sabang, is the westernmost outpost of Indonesia.
The island is known for its ecosystem; the Indonesian government has declared 60 square kilometers of inland and sea around the island as a wildlife protection area. A rare mega-mouth shark species was found on shore and the island is the only habitat for the threatened toad, Bufo valhallae (genus Bufo). Coral reef areas around the island are known for their large variety of fish species.
Diving around Weh Island is a well-established recreational activity nowadays. Dive masters and dive instructors are ready to offer a variety of sites to dives like the fabled Sea Garden in Rubiah Island. You'll find many delightful sea creatures, most notably manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins and sea turtles.
Diving is of course, the most favorite activity. Many dive masters and instructors will gladly escort you to explore the underwater life in Weh island. Why not explore the city as well? You might want to take a picture at a sign bearing "Indonesia Nol (Zero) Kilometer". Water Front Resort is also interesting if you want to see the diversified marine life.
For shopping enthusiasts, try visiting traditional markets to get fresh tropical fruit and snacks. Many other fascinating sites of interest include a waterfall, volcano and hot springs as well as the earlier mentioned Zero Kilometer Monument, Japanese bunkers from WWII, a historical graveyard, Durian Keramat and Sabang town.
You will be able to swing it, no matter how tight your budget is. Various accommodations are available and all you have to do is just choose. Basic wooden huts if you want to experience the simple life. Or perhaps a pricey bungalow for a more comfortable surrounding. You can have your fill of sea food dishes in the restaurants throughout the island.
Handmade souvenirs from coconut wood will delight your loved ones and perhaps you'd like to keep one as a memento. Traditional markets offer fresh tropical fruit and traditional side dishes and snacks. Dodol (kind of sweets made of certain flour, sugar, palm sugar and sometimes fruit), chips, cake and bread (specialty of this island) can be found here.
Dress casually but be sure to respect the locals. The majority are fairly strict Muslims and modest clothing is preferred. Bring your own bathing suit and sun block, as well as other necessary equipments as most of that is not available on the island.
From Banda Aceh, you can take a ferry in the morning in Ulee Lheue Sea Port and arrive in Gapang Beach. The trip will only take a couple of hours, 45 minutes if you decide to ride a speedboat. Or if you're from Medan, you can go to Banda Aceh first by bus or plane. Traveling from abroad? Several airlines can be used as well to reach Banda Aceh.
Land transportation can be used. Minibuses are available, motorcycles and three-wheeled becak ('pedicab') can be used to explore this island. For a more comfortable journey, you can also rent a car. To explore Sabang and the beaches, no mode of transportation will be more enjoyable than walking on foot.
Location map of Pulau Weh
Last revised on January 17, 2010
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