Pulau Weh is most often reached by ferry from Banda Aceh. It was also hit by the 2004 tsunami. Many of the shops and structures that exist today were rebuilt afterward. Most people who were around during the time of the tsunami have before/after photos or tales from the impactful event. On the way to Pulau Weh, you will reach the Weh Island and ride through the town of Sabang.
Most travelers go to Pulau Weh for the fantastic diving. The few sunbathers that visit will find themselves on a short stretch of beach probably all to themselves. There are a few restaurants where you may have to order a special dish the day prior in order for the cook to order the needed ingredients in time for your dinner.
Occasionally, a woman stops by the shops and everyone will enthusiastically call out, "Mama's Donuts!" Her fried bananas and donuts are a very popular local treat that will make your mouth water like Pavlov's dog the next time you hear people cry, "Mama's Donuts!"
Highlights from Pulau Weh
- Go scuba diving to spot new nudibranchs or an exquisite octopus. Lumba Lumba Diving Centre has established a great reputation for well-maintained equipment and a good accommodation reserved for divers. However, other dive shops also receive good comments if you want to try something different.
- Mama Jungle is a restaurant at the far end of the beach. She cooks up an unequaled beef or chicken rendang that come highly recommended, but you must order 24 hours in advance!
- This is a great place to try local food. All the restaurants are pretty tasty with drinks to match (not so much liquor because it is a predominantly Muslim population).
Hints and Tips for Pulau Weh
- Bring enough cash to pay for your stay as an ATM may be out of reach or, those available in Sabang, may not allow you to take out the amount you ask.
- You can grab the ferry to Pulau Weh from Banda Aceh. Ask a driver to take you to Ulee Lheue pier where you can learn the times and prices for your departure and arrival. The last boat is at 4pm.
- There are plenty of mischievous monkeys, meandering goats and even donkeys that may suddenly appear or jump onto the roads, so keep an eye out if you rent a motorbike.
- There are mosquitoes and spiders, so use mosquito repellent and scan your room before settling in.
- Not all accommodation has hot water or toilet paper. Come prepared or opt for the local method of hygiene using the bum gun, a hose next to the toilet.
- Evenings are very quiet and dark. It's quite useful to bring a torch or a headlamp when you head out for dinner.