The deep blue at Pulau Weh

Ever since I started diving again, I fell right back in love with the sport. I am fascinated by watching the fish swim by unknowingly. I am delighted by finding brightly coloured little nudibranches in the most unlikely places. I am happy tumbling about in the water, with no sense of up or down, just hovering in midwater. I appreciated the quiet and the isolation from the rest of the world – no beeping phones, no flashing messages, no emails, no music, just the quiet bubbly sound escaping my regulator when I breath. Someone once told me diving is not a individual sport. How wrong! It is a very individual sport, and I appreciate the me-time.

I heard about Pulau Weh when talking with some of the divers I met at Perhentian. Apparently it is one of the best sites they have ever been to. I checked it out, and it seems that not many people know about it! Good! The less-known, the better preserved the sites, the quieter the area. It was the monsoon season for the dive sites on the eastern coast of Malaysia, and on the contrary, the dive season for the west coast and Pulau Aceh!

It may not be so easily accessible as compared to the other dive sites, but for the pristine conditions, I say it’s well worth the journey!

The dive conditions were excellent. On the beach we were at, there were only 2 dive operators and each time we head out, there were only 3-4 leisures + DM + DM-in-training, and no one else! The dive sites were pristine with great visibility, and lots of marine life to spot. I love the dive site at Tokong, where we drift-dived and saw some really stunning and huge orange/pink fan corals! I’ve never seen anything like that before! The current at the dive sites are a little stronger than what we’re used to in the Malaysia sites, but it was good training.

Unlike the other diving destinations in the area, Pulau Weh is pretty quiet and free from the parties and drunken revellers (perhaps because it is in an Islamic state?). The food is simple and local, not like the low quality western (or even local) food they serve tourists in many other places. It was a great place to escape the busy city and recharge!

Arriving in Banda Aceh and greeted by the beautiful blue skies!
Arriving in Banda Aceh and greeted by the beautiful blue skies!
After 2 flights and 1 ferry ride, finally arrived at the Balohan Jetty at Pulau Weh!
After 2 flights and 1 ferry ride, finally arrived at the Balohan Jetty at Pulau Weh!
Beautiful beach right at our doorstep!
Beautiful beach right at our doorstep!
Sunrise from the chalet balcony
Sunrise from the chalet balcony
Awesome Nasi Padang to fill the stomach after a dive!
Awesome Nasi Padang to fill the stomach after a dive!
Nasi Padang along the main road before the turn into Gapang beach. Highly recommended by dive shop operators!
Nasi Padang along the main road before the turn into Gapang beach. Highly recommended by dive shop operators!
Welcome to Gapang Beach :)
Welcome to Gapang Beach 🙂
Monster Divers - Great people, new equipment, and awesome dives!
Monster Divers – Great people, new equipment, and awesome dives!
Just staring out into the sea after a dive.
Just staring out into the sea after a dive.
The crazy dive gang!
The crazy dive gang!
Awesome fish curry Nasi Padang from this small family-run shop in the village of Iboih. Ask the tuk tuk driver or your dive operator for directions!
Awesome fish curry Nasi Padang from this small family-run shop in the village of Iboih. Ask the tuk tuk driver or your dive operator for directions!
Our laid back chalet with a great view!
Our laid back chalet with a great view!
Taking the tuktuk around the island..
Taking the tuktuk around the island..
Where are the Three Billy Goat Gruff? In the Chinese cemetery...
Where are the Three Billy Goat Gruff? In the Chinese cemetery…
Colourful fishing boats
Colourful fishing boats
So there is a tiny volcano on the island and you can visit it and learn some cool stuff about the geography of volcanoes.
So there is a tiny volcano on the island and you can visit it and learn some cool stuff about the geography of volcanoes.
The
The “volcano”.. More like a geo-thermal park. Except that there are no boundaries. Some parts are soft and melty from the heat, and you can see evidence of sulphur everywhere. Watch where you step!
Boiling water under the surface...
Boiling water under the surface…
As Aceh is an Islamic state in Indonesia, don't expect to find much of non-halal food. That said, the nasi padang were all very yummy!
As Aceh is an Islamic state in Indonesia, don’t expect to find much of non-halal food. That said, the nasi padang were all very yummy!
Something interesting.. fighting fish! Reminds me of my childhood days!
Something interesting.. fighting fish! Reminds me of my childhood days!
KFC, Aceh-style.
KFC, Banda Aceh-style.
Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh. A very imposing sight indeed! It survived the 2004 Tsunami and there is a footage of people being stranded on the mosque while the torrents of water rushed past them.
Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh. A very imposing sight indeed! It survived the 2004 Tsunami and there is a footage of people being stranded on the mosque while the torrents of water rushed past them.
Another view of the Grand Mosque
Another view of the Grand Mosque
Walking down Pasar Aceh, you can different shops. The interesting thing is the colorful signboards, with beautiful letterings.
Walking down Pasar Aceh, you can different shops. The interesting thing is the colorful signboards, with beautiful letterings.

Trip Summary: 4 Days Dive-trip to Pulau Weh, Aceh, Indonesia (Dec)

Day 1
– Morning flight SG – KL (Jetstar)
– Afternoon flight KL – Banda Aceh (AirAsia)
– Arrive at Banda Aceh at 1:30pm
– Taxi to Balohan Ferry Terminal (120,000 idr)
– Ferry to Pulau Weh 16:00 – 16:50 (90,000idr)
– Check into Freddies’ at Sabang (located on a beautiful beach, Santai Sumurtiga)

Day 2
– Tuk Tuk to Gapang (It’s a 1hr ride.. so perhaps staying at Gapang is better!)
– 3 awesome dives with Monster Divers
– Back to Freddies’

Day 3
– 3 more awesome dives at Monster Divers!
– Dinner at this local ikan place in Iboih (ask Sergi from the dive shop!)
– Back to Freddies’

Day 4
– Half day tour around Pulau Weh (tuktuk, 20,000idr)
– Breakfast at Sabang town 
Pre-war & Post-war cemeteries – though overgrown and ill-maintained, it’s pretty cool to see the different cemeteries (European since 1800s, Japanese & Chinese)…
War Bunkers near the coastal area
Wisata Volcano, small volcano into the middle of the island
– Ferry to Banda Aceh 14:00 – 15:30
– Visit Grand Mosque (Only Muslims are permitted to enter. Nevertheless, the architecture is a stunning piece of beauty even from the outside!)
– Visit Aceh Bazaar next to the Grand Mosque
– Overnight in Banda Aceh
*If you have time, you should also visit the Tsunami Museum, a monument and memorial to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Day 5
– Flight back to SG via KL

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