Intro to Pulau Weh, Indonesia

I read somewhere that a visit to the luscious green island of Pulau Weh, Indonesia can throw a wrench into the best of plans, however, I imagined our proposed ten-day stay would sufficiently fill our memory bank; visions of laid back island life, diving, touring on a scooter and socializing with locals. We’re now four days past that mark and although we could stay longer the time has come to truly begin our Indonesian adventure in Sumatra, Java, Bali and the many islands of Indonesia’s large archipelago.

Pulau Weh

Pulau Weh

Many choose Pulau Weh for its relatively untouched snorkelling and scuba diving but it is so much more than that. Locals extend open arms and for us it made all the difference. Lazy days were spent under palm trees, swaying in hammocks and even the occasional reader can be inspired to jump into a good book. I’ve learned to cook a delicious Indonesian chicken curry and also about Indonesia, its people and the strife this strict Islamic region of Aceh has experienced, brought on from decades of fighting. Strife which, however ended with the devastating blow of the 2004 tsunami, where more than 61,000 people died in the nearby city of Banda Aceh and 165,000 in the entire region.

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There must be big business in Pulau Weh in vehicle horn repairs since it’s the number one thing you hear on the winding jungle roads. Honk honk,”hello”, honk honk, “move over”, honk honk, “I’m coming round the bend”, honk honk to the seven-year olds driving mopeds. Honk to the monkeys threatening to jump down from the trees, honk to the children playing by the roadside dressed only in underwear. Honk honk, “that’s right, I’ve got foreigners people with me. Wanna take a picture?”

 

Julie & Martini (from Seulako View Cottages)

Julie & Martini (from Seulako View Cottages)

You might choose to spend Rp 100,000 ($10 CAD) on a scooter rental to tour the island, refueling your tank at roadside stalls with gas filled water bottles that will run you a mere Rp 7,000 ($0.70 CAD). Stop by the hot springs, visit the small capital of Sabang, go swimming at Ibioh Beach or brave the monkeys chasing your bike as you make your way to Kilometre Zero, the official start to Indonesia. Hopefully the rest of your time will be spent in the water diving or snorkelling. Coming here to get your dive certification is a smart idea; why brave the thousands getting certified in Koh Tao, Thailand when you’ll very likely get one-on-one instruction here and your first deep dive rewards you devil rays, sharks and octopi?

Our love of hermit crabs has become a bit of an obsession. Lying in a hammock one day I observed a mother (I’m led to believe) showing her baby how to switch from one shell to another. I gasped and called out to anyone who would listen to come and watch. We watched her slip her body and curled “tail” into a shell, communicating with her child with her wildly waving antennae. Her baby communicated back that the shell he was moving to was just way too big and so the loving mother she was, illustrated the move two more times. I never thought I would witness such guidance and love, that is until she lost her patience and left him there to fend for himself.

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

I also never though I’d see a baby octopus, its body the size of bottle cap, but I did just yesterday as we waded 100-metres from the beach during low tide, discovering more than we could ever had imagined. Baby moray eels and the largest seahorse I have ever seen, affectionately named Wilfred by the staff.

We chose Ibioh Long Beach and Steffen’s Sea Sports as our home and visiting other parts of Pulau Weh reinforced my belief that this is the best place to stay on the island. It’s a small community here alongside Steffen. Next door, Leslie, from England and her Indonesian husband, Arun run Seulako View Cottages (Rp 50,000 – a large room with a fan, windows, and a communal washroom -150,000 for a bungalow with washroom, terrace and hammock: $5-15 CAD). Martini, a young Indonesian woman cooks up cheap delicious fare. Chicken curry with rice (Rp 20,000: $2 CAD!), a large portion on Mie Hoon (fried noodles) with prawns (Rp 30,000: $3 CAD).

View from Steffen's Sea Sports

View from Steffen’s Sea Sports

Steffen of Steffen's Sea Sports

Steffen of Steffen’s Sea Sports

Further down the beach is Bixio Cafe run by Eva, an incredibly vivacious Indonesian and her Italian husband Luca. Fresh gnocchi and tiramisu will run you Rp 30,000 a piece. So, as I tell anyone who will listen, particularly close friends at home..”Pony up the $1300 to get here from Toronto and live on $25/day!”

I’m torn as to how to best spend our last two days here. This evening I’m hoping to photograph the baby octopus and sea-horse. Tomorrow I’ll likely go food shopping with Eva in Sabang and then return to Ibioh where she’ll teach me how to make spaghetti frutti de mare (with fresh calamari and prawns). A hermit crab derby is on the books, as well as the two best dive sites on Pulau Weh, the Canyon at 90′ and Arus Palae, 75′, with our Go Pro camera in tow.

Julie & Eva of Bixio Cafe

Julie & Eva of Bixio Cafe

One of the dogs we adore gave birth to puppies a few days ago down the beach so the hunt is on for them and, since Shari’a Islamic Law prohibits any swimming or diving between Thursday sundown and Friday at 2pm, Seulako View is currently preparing for a casual full moon BBQ just in time for our goodbyes. I couldn’t be happier with the decision to leave everything behind and travel; Pulau Weh is definitely the place to start!

Tuna on Coconut BBQ

Tuna on Coconut BBQ

 

Arun prepping the BBQ

Arun prepping the BBQ

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Intro to Pulau Weh, Indonesia

  1. Pingback: Blood Sacrifice in Indonesia: The More People Die, The Better For The Harvest | Talesfromthelou's Blog

  2. Pingback: Pulau Weh Diving - The Travelling Munschkin | The Travelling Munschkin

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Pulau Weh Booking Information – Dirty Details

Read here for our account of Pulau Weh diving Read here for our experience in Pulau Weh NOTE: The PDF guide to Pulau Weh (at the end of this document) is the most recent one we could find on the island, from 2008. Times and prices will have likely changed.   Indonesian Travel Visa – […]

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