First Impression: Pulau Weh

I’m just finishing up a week on Pulau Weh, a relatively unknown little island at the far western tip of Indonesia, just a short ferry ride from the big island of Sumatra. The place is perhaps most popular with scuba divers, with some of the most unspoiled reefs I’ve ever seen, but it might appeal to those looking for a relaxed beach well off the beaten path.

Underwater

The underwater scenery Pulau Weh is famous for

As I’ve mentioned above, the diving here is some of the best I’ve seen. There hasn’t been much in the way of really big things, like sharks and manta rays, but there have been a few, and the abundance of other fish more than makes up for it. I’ve seen large numbers of things here that I’ve only seen rarely in other parts of Southeast Asia, such as honeycomb morays, big schools of trevally (tuna) and a wide variety of other fish. The only thing we haven’t seen much of is other divers. Although I would guess there are as many as 100 other divers on the island, we’ve had every site to ourselves.

Casa Nemo

Casa Nemo on the eastern beach.

I’ll be covering the diving in a lot more detail on my SEA Undersea site, but you don’t have to be a diver to enjoy Pulau Weh. There are resorts on the island that cater to non-divers. On a day trip outing, we visited one of these, Casa Nemo, on the northeastern cost of the island, near the main city of Sabang. The small hotel, with just eight bungalows, sits on a hillside above a pretty stretch of sandy beach. It looks like a perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Waterfall

A waterfall, reached after a beautiful walk

Away from the beach and the ocean, there isn’t a lot to see on the island, although as it is relatively undeveloped, you can still see some beautiful scenery as well as people living a more or less traditional way of life. We took in a waterfall, pictured above, along with a volcanic landscape on the way to the eastern coast. The waterfall itself isn’t overly dramatic, but the walk there was very nice. It started out by a little stream passing by farms of palm, coconut, cocoa and many herbal crops before turning into a deep ravine that required a little agility to get through to reach the falls.

Pulau Weh won’t appeal to everyone, except maybe divers, but for those looking to just get away from it all, and not worried about five star accommodations, this may be a place to consider. My upcoming on-line guide to the island will include all the details on getting there and where to stay.

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