Pulau Weh island guide. Indonesia off the beaten track
If you like island life, tropical water, diving/snorkeling but don’t want to spend too much money and want to see more of Indonesian then just Bali, Pulau Weh is a good option. The island is not very touristy but has some infrastructure and things to do. Here is our Pulau Weh island guide.
- Beautiful nature, most of the island covered by jungle;
- Warm crystal clear water, with healthy corral reef and diverse marine life;
- People, very nice and friendly;
- Prices, cheap accommodation and food.
- On Fridays till 2 pm you are not allowed to do any leisure activities, religious thing
- Get quite very early, most shops and restaurants are closed by 8 pm.
Pulau Weh island guide. Set up your budget
You can stay on the island for as little as 70 000 IDR/5,5$ per person including food (eating rice or noodles in local food places) and accommodation. If you add some activities like snorkeling or renting a scooter your budget will increase to about 100 000 IDR/7,5$.
What beach to choose
There are two main touristy beaches Gapang and Iboih, 10 min. drive from each other. We stayed at Iboih beach, the main reason we found prices for diving in dive centers at Iboih beach were cheaper. We really liked it, small village, with two dive centers, many accommodation options and food places, motorbike rental, snorkeling trips, shops everything is available here.
Where to stay on Pulau Weh (Iboih beach)
There are plenty of places for different budget, from 50 000 to 500 000 for a double. We stayed at Erick’s Green house, not the cheapest one but nice, clean and safe. For our double with fan and shared bathroom we paid 100 000/7,5$. The room was nice, spacious, with two big mattresses and mosquito net. The shower was clean, no hot water, no toilet paper. Electricity 24 hours, wi-fi, small kitchenette with gas stove, nice area with hammocks and tables in front of each bungalow, cold shower.
Cheaper option Mama Mia, 50 000/4$ for double, looked a bit shabby, not right at Iboih beach, 10 min. walk.
Fancier and nicer one Yulia, with a restaurant, pier, beach chairs etc. Bungalow for 300 000/23$. There are more options at Iboih beach you’ll be able to find something that suits your budget and preferences.
Things to do on the island
Most tourists come here for diving. We did four dive with Iboih Dive Center for more info on diving, prices, dive sites and phtos click HERE.
You can do a snorkeling trip with several stops at different spots or just snorkel from the beach, watch for boats, traffic can be quite intensive. Good spots for snorkeling from the beach: Yulia guest house pier, shallow, some corrals along the shore. The most impressive thing we saw there was an octopus, some lion fish, trumpet fish, clown fish etc. Not good in a low tide, too shallow.
The other spot is right in front of Erick’s Green House, you can swim there from Rubiah beach, along to the shore. We saw there two big scorpion fish, some big bat fish, some clown fish, needle fish, trumpet fish, lion fish and thousands of small reef fish. The corral reef itself is very nice and colorful. Watch for scorpion fish and sea urchins there are many around.
Chilling in a hammock, reading, enjoying beautiful surroundings.
Rent a motorbike
Driving around the island on motorbike. To rent a bike costs 100 000 full day or 50 000 IDR/4$ for half day + 2$ for the petrol. It took us 4-5 hours to drive around the island with two stops at Japanese bunker Anoi Itam and Jaboi volcano.
Things not to miss on the island
- Japanese bunker Anoi Itam, WWII ruins;
- Hot springs;
- Volcano Jaboi;
- Secret beaches of the west side of the island. Non developed part with few locals living there, empty beaches, nice but often the sea is quite choppy on this side;
- Km 0, strange tower at the North point of the island, good place to watch the sunset.
Best time to visit Pulau Weh
Is from May to September, dry season, comfortable temperature, rare rain, cleaner water and better visibility.
Food on Pulau Weh
Usually when we go to an island we bring food from the mainland, it helps to save some money. For Pulau Weh it isn’t necessarily unless you want to eat something different than fried rice and noodles.
To eat in local places costs from 10 000-15 000/1$ (nasi/mie goreng) to 20 000 IDR/2$ (chicken/meat) , juice 14 000, tea/coffee, omelet with rice for breakfast 10 000. If you are a bit tired of rice and noodles there are restaurants with western cuisine, e.g. Green Restaurant where we sometimes had for breakfast banana oats or banana pancakes 14 000/1$ or veggie omelet with cheese 18 000/1,5$. For a proper meal expect to pay 30 000-40 000/3-4$ per dish.
ATMs on Pulau Weh
There are many, you don’t need to bring a lot of cash with you. On Iboih beach there are two BRI and BSI bank, limit for both 1 200 000 IDR/90$ per withdrawal. On the way from the ferry we saw at least five or so more.
Shops and markets on Pulau Weh
Many small shops selling noodles, snacks, cookies, cool drinks, eggs etc. For fresh fruit and veggies go to one of the towns or you can buy cut fruit for 2 000 per piece at Iboih beach. Alcohol is kind of illegal in the area. You can find beer for 35 000-40 000/3$ per can. There are some souvenir and clothes shops at Iboih beach as well.
How to get from the airport to Banda Aceh
There is no bus, we checked, it used to be a couple of years ago but not any more. There are many taxis, standard price 100 000 IDR/7,5$ for a car. We tried to low it down and in the end got a ride for 50 000 IDR/4$ anyway. Another option is tuk tuk, easier to find one for 50 000/4$. If you don’t find any at the airport exit walk through the parking area towards the main road someone will stop for you.
How to get from Banda Aceh to Pulau Weh
You have two options; to pay more and get faster or to pay less and get slower. Both fast and slow ferries leave from the same ferry terminal in Banda Aceh. Fast boats leave on a regular base, takes 30 min. to get to Pulau Weh, price 85 000/6,5$. Slow ferry (carries cargo and passengers) leaves twice a day at 8.30 am and 10.00 am, takes about 2 hours, price 25 000/2$$. Both arrive at Balohan, from there to get to your final destination you can take a taxi – 150 000/11,5$, mini bus – 50 000/4$ person or tuk tuk – 70 000 – 80 000/6$ for two passengers. All prices for rides from Balohan to Iboih/Gapang beach.
Where to stay in Banda Aceh
If you arrive too late to catch a ferry (last fast ferry leaves at 4 pm) you will have no option than to stay in the town. The cheapest we could find was . For double with fan and shared bathroom – 9$, AC – 11$. The place is quite dilapidated, no wi-fi, no hot water (which is quite normal for Sumatra) but you can get free breakfast, ask for it on arrival. The owner does transfer to the airport for 100 000/7,5$, you can low it down to 80 000/6$.
Getting back from Pulau Weh
The same two options: fast boat or slow ferry. We took slow ferry both ways but on the way back had to wait for 2 hours at Balohan due to some changes, slow ferry left at 3.30 pm instead of 2 pm but fast ferries are always available and leave almost every hour.
Slow ferry timetable (Pulau We – Banda Aceh), August 2016
- Mon – Thirth 8.00 am; 2 pm
- Fri 7.30 am; 4 pm
- Sat, Sun 8.00 am; 11 am; 4 pm.
It changes all the time, it’s better to ask around. Our ferry left at 3.30 pm instead of 4 pm.
If you have a flight from Banda Aceh it’s better to get back from the island the day before, sometimes the sea can be quite rough which may provoke delays or cancellations of ferries.
We really enjoyed Pulau Weh and think it’s definitely worth to come here, specially if you’re a diver.
SIGN UP HERE to get email notifications of new posts.
We would love to hear from you, so don’t be shy to comment give suggestions or ask questions!