Pulau Weh is Southeast Asia off the beaten path.
We’re on island time on Pulau Weh. Life is just more peaceful, more relaxed, everything is more slow-paced. You spend more time admiring the beautiful nature that surrounds the island – the lush greenery, the gorgeous turquoise blue waters, and the beautiful underwater world.
Pulau Weh is small island, also known as Pulau Sabang, that is just a 1-hour express ferry ride from Banda Aceh, off Sumatra. So getting to Pulau Weh is easily accessible from the main land. Surrounding the island is the beautiful Andaman Sea, with its 50 shades of blue and incredible underwater life. For such a small island, there is plenty of things to do on Pulau Weh. From exploring the beautiful nature to eating the freshest of seafood – you will be kept busy while at Sabang. And the best part is that Pulau Weh is incredibly affordable, which means you can stay longer and enjoy more of its natural beauty.
Table of Contents
- 15 Incredible Things to Do on Pulau Weh
- Explore the Island on a Becak
- Discover the Beautiful Underwater World
- Freedive to at least 16 meters
- Go Beach Hopping
- Eat Your Way Around the Island
- Go Jungle Hiking
- Dive into a Waterfall
- Explore an Active Volcano
- Enjoy Some Delicious Italian Pasta
- Do Yoga while Listening to the Gentle Sound of Waves
- Hop on a Local Fishing Boat and head out Fishing
- Watch an Incredible Sunset
- Eat Fresh Seafood
- Chill Out, Relax, Take it Easy
- Soak In the Views
- Discover More of Pulau Weh + Aceh
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15 Incredible Things to Do on Pulau Weh
Explore the Island on a Becak
Of course you can hire a car with driver to explore the island…but why not try something different? Becak (which is like a ‘tuk tuk’) is a great way to get around and soak in the sights and sounds of Pulah Weh. Our Becak driver was Mr Deni, and he was so proud of his island home. It was a great way to explore Pulau Weh and to hear insight into the everyday life and history of the island. To book Mr Deni, it’s best to WhatsApp him – +6285270881964. Do keep your Google Translate handy as his English is limited.
Since the Becak is open air and slightly slower than a car, it is easier to capture the sights as your drive around the island. This means you can easily stop to hop off and take photos. Because the island is relatively slow-paced, the traffic is not wild so it’s actually quite fun to ride on the Becak. It’s around Rp300,000-Rp350,000 (~U$22 | ~A$28) for the full day.
Discover the Beautiful Underwater World
No trip to Pulau Weh is complete without going snorkeling or diving – Pulau Weh is a diver’s mecca. The underwater world around Pulau Weh is quite fascinating with an active marine life…and there are SO MANY dive sites to explore. And the best part is that the sites are not overcrowded with tourists so you can snorkel and dive in peace.
Diving Pulau Weh is definitely a great way to see this world, but it is very important to note that it is best to ensure you go with a reputable company on the island. It is worth paying that bit extra to ensure safety is of the highest standard. In fact, we spoke to a couple who went diving with a no-name diving company at Pulau Weh and their boat capsized. Thankfully they are safe, but still things could have gone worse.
So in speaking to expats from the island, there are 3 companies that they recommend to do your diving with and these include Bubble Addict, Lumba Lumba Diving Centre and Monster Divers.
If diving is not your thing, then definitely head out snorkelling. It is possible rent equipment on the island for around Rp30,000-Rp40,000 (~U$2 | ~A$3) per day for snorkel & fin. There are plenty of spots that offer snorkelling for beginners such as Gapang Beach, Iboih and Rubiah Island.
Freedive to at least 16 meters
If you love being underwater, freediving is another exciting activity. Visit Freedive Weh at Gapang Beach where you could learn how to dive the depths of the ocean all in one breath. In the beginners class, you’ll get a chance to learn how to freedive to about 16m.
Go Beach Hopping
All around the island there are many beaches to explore and spend some time swimming and/or snorkeling. There are several places all around the island which boast white sandy beaches with turquoise blue waters. Plus many also are home to some fantastic swimming, snorkelling and diving activities.
Iboih Beach and Gapang Beach are the most popular on the island, with numerous accommodation, restaurants, and diving centres being located here. You could also head to the other side of the island to Samur Tiga, which is a lot quieter and swimming is much more peaceful without a lot of boats moving around the area. It is great for swimming and not too bad for snorkeling, mainly to see fish.
Side note: As Pulau Weh is a bit more conservative, please keep in mind that some beaches don’t allow bikinis, so I do recommend bringing along a wet shirt and a scarf as you travel around the island.
Eat Your Way Around the Island
In between the exploring and adventure around Pulau Weh, there’s nothing better than delicious local food or a home-made pizza or a fresh coconut to go with a fantastic view.
With a couple of trips to Pulau Weh already under our belt, you can read more about our favorite spots to eat in Pulau Weh.
Go Jungle Hiking
While there is a beautiful underwater world to explore while at Pulau Weh, there is also a lush jungle with gorgeous flora and fauna, and wildlife. While driving around the island, you can’t help but see how green the place is. And there are several hikes you can do around the island to explore the lush jungle. One that I recommend is the hike through the jungle to the waterfall, which I recommend in my next point.
Dive into a Waterfall
Our becak driver Mr Deni told us about the waterfall. Then at our accommodation, we spoke to Freddie who also told us that the waterfall was a must-do. So of course, when two locals tell us this, it was on our list of things to do in Pulau Weh.
We arrived to the entry point to the waterfall via becak. Hopped off and started walking. The walk took about 20-30 minutes in total and it was a short trek through the jungle. The path in general is clearly marked, with a few spots where you do have to cross the river and climb on a few rocks.
After the walk through the jungle, we reached the waterfall and couldn’t wait to hop into the fresh water. It was so refreshing and such a wonderful experience to cool down after the trek in the jungle. We were by ourselves so it made it all the more fun.
Explore an Active Volcano
As you enter the volcanic region, you can smell the Sulphur…that’s when you know you are close. It’s quite fascinating to think that you are in the crater of a volcano. It’s lush green everywhere, with a small number of local farms and houses settling into the area.
When you arrive to the entry point to the volcano, it’s a short 100m to the first location point. We didn’t spend too long here because the fumes became quite strong, but it was still interesting to be see the geothermal activity here.
No pouring red lava to see, but rather the geothermal activity was the action here, which is hot Sulphur rising from the ground. I had never seen something like this before so it was very interesting for me, although next time I recommend bringing a mask along. All along the ground are small holes blowing through the Sulphur, while there were white and yellowish rocks all around the place.
Enjoy Some Delicious Italian Pasta
It might sound quite odd that I am suggesting to eat Italian pasta at Pulau Weh of all places. But we found a beachfront hidden gem that serves house-made Italian pasta made using traditional recipes from the region of Emilian.
Head further north of Iboih, about a 10 minute drive, to Bixio Cafe for some delicious pasta with beach front views. Ohh and the beach where it’s located is one of our favorites!
Do Yoga while Listening to the Gentle Sound of Waves
The Flying Elephant Yoga is the only yoga studio on Pulau Weh and is located in Gapang Beach. With a wide range of classes that suit every level, it’s the perfect way to get your yoga fix amidst an amazingly beautiful beach backdrop. Imagine listening to the gentle waves of the ocean whilst practicing your yoga poses.
There are classes daily in the evenings around sunset time from 6:15pm – 7:15pm, which suits all levels. Or if you prefer a more personalized class, it is possible to arrange a customized private practice. Some of the classes are donation based.
Hop on a Local Fishing Boat and head out Fishing
With an active marine life, there are some great fishing opportunities as well. There is a very active and wild tuna population, so you may even get to catch a tuna or two.
We hoped on a small local fishing boat and head out to see the action. We had 2 small fishing rods to test out luck at fishing and wow did we get a lot of bites. Many of them were too small, so we did catch and release. But our fishermen did manage to catch a tuna as well which was a cool experience.
We went out fishing in the late afternoon, which was a much better weather for it as it was not too hot. We then got to sit out on the boat to watch the beautiful sunset which was such a magical experience.
Watch an Incredible Sunset
I am an avid sunset hunter. Wherever I travel, I always try to find the best place to witness the sunset. In Southeast Asia, I have to say the best sunsets that I have ever seen have been in Phuket and in Indonesia….in particular Lhoknga (off Banda Aceh) and now Pulau Weh.
There are a few areas on the main island to watch the sunset, but the absolute best way to see the magical sunset is from a boat on the water. If you can’t get on a boat, then head out to Kilometre Zero which offers gorgeous views and a wonderful sunset.
Eat Fresh Seafood
Oh man the seafood here is fresh and oh-so-delicious. And for me the best way to enjoy is BBQ’d and then eaten with steamed rice, stir fried veggies, and the local dipping sauce.
Many restaurants receive the seafood fresh in the morning and you can sometimes even choose the fish you want to have BBQ’d. Tuna is definitely a popular choice and is best shared between 3-4 people. Also squid and octopus is another popular choice, with Pulau Weh’s speciality being the Sate Gurita, which is octopus satay grilled and served with a local sauce.
There are many places around the island which serves great seafood and for Pulah Weh’s local Sate Gurita, which is Octopus Satay, check out the Sate Gurita stall near Pantai Paradiso which opens in the evenings. You can also learn more about places to in eat in Pulau Weh through my guide.
Chill Out, Relax, Take it Easy
Being on island time means also giving yourself the opportunity to chill out.
As we stayed at Samur Tiga at Freddie’s, our bungalow had a balcony with amazing views of the palm trees, beach, and ocean. It was the perfect spot to hang out – plus the balcony also had a hammock which was just perfect.
We also found several beaches with hammocks and beach chairs to relax on. Grab yourself a fresh coconut and just relaxxxxx.
Soak In the Views
Driving around the island, there are views, views, and more views to soak in. As Pulau Weh is relatively hilly, there are great vantage points around the island to capture incredible views.
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