Indonesia’s Little Known Premier Dive Sites!
The snorkelling and diving in Pulau Weh, and the other islands of the Sabang area, was outstanding! We were truly astounded by the amount of fish, variety of marine life and the size of some of the fish we saw. Spending the last 18 months snorkelling in South East Asia hasn’t aways been pleasant. Unfortunately, it is often a blunt reminder of the tragedies occurring within our oceans, seas and reefs. We have seen evidence of dynamite fishing, collection of turtle eggs, severely damaged coral reefs, tourists standing on and /or kicking coral with their fins, rubbish of extraordinary amounts and we have even saved a turtle that was tangled up in an astronomical amount of rubbish and fishing nets.
In Sabang the problems of rubbish, and the tourists related coral damage, still apply. However, the tourism in Sabang is still relatively small and the BPKS are hopefully going to start addressing the problems associated with coral reefs, tourism and rubbish collection, as they work towards developing the tourism in the Sabang area.
Sabang is a municipality which encompasses five Indonesian islands. Recently we have had the opportunity to spend a month there, three weeks of which were spent snorkelling and diving. It was some of the best we have done in Indonesia… scrap that, it is the best snorkelling and diving we have come cross in Indonesia.
We sailed from Phuket in Thailand to Pulau Weh in Indonesia for the Sabang Marine Festival. We were not even aware of how good the diving was in Sabang. We got a very pleasant surprise when we jumped into the water and we were immediately surrounded by hundreds of fish. Some dive spots have little coral but heaps of fish, others are beautiful sea gardens of colourful plate coral. One dive site is locally known as “the underwater volcano”. This area full of *fumaroles and you go there to swim thought the warm bubbles!
An amazing variety of marine life!
While diving Dwayne saw a manta ray, sharks, nudibranchs, frogmouth fish, ribbon eels and a gargantuan sweetlip. We also saw lionfish, scorpionfish, shrimpfish, long-horned cowfish, peacock manta shrimp, painted lobsters, sea snakes, and the entire star-studded cast of Finding Nemo! A full list of the species I could identify is at the bottom on this post.
Video - Beautiful Snorkelling In Sabang!
We sailors joined in on a clean-up Rubiah day. Organised by a group of concerned locals and ex-pats, we helped clean up the island removing bags and bags of rubbish along with Erja, Glen, Tom and Isabella.
After the clean up a few sailors – Antonella, Pierre, Isabelle, Tom, Dwayne and I headed out to Pulau Rondo for a night. P. Rondo is another of the five islands that make up the Sabang area. Some of us snorkelled and some went diving. The snorkelling was interesting, lots of sea snakes and fish. There were also many areas of bubbles coming up from the sea bed – I assume it was more fumaroles (?).
Pre-dinner drinks were on Thorfinn and dinner aboard C’est Le Vent.
Travel Notes (April/May):
Where is it? – Pulau Weh, the largest of the five Sabang islands, is the northern-most and western-most point of Indonesia.
How to get there?- Ferry from Banda Aceh or sailing (see cruising notes below).
Alcohol – The majority of Indonesians are Muslim. You cannot buy alcohol in Sabang. Having said that you can usually find some beer if you ask around at the dive shops.
Diving – Lots of professionally run dive shops. A google search will lead you to them.
Accommodation – There is a range of accommodation styles. A search on Booking.com will lead you to them.
- New Visa laws make it easier to sail to Sabang. Read my notes here for more info.
- You are not allowed to anchor in many of the protected areas. Pulau Rubiah has some moorings available at IDR50000 per night. The BPKS intend on putting in a lot more moorings for yachts (hopefully free).
A *fumarole is an opening in or near a volcano, through which hot sulphurous gases emerge.
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