Diving up in Weh.

Aug 6-9th 2010, Pulau Weh, Aceh, Indonesia

Booya! This is the 2nd time in two years I am up in Pulau Weh. And this post shall attempt to provide the reader, you with a detailed description of how to get to Weh. =)

First. Its a double flight from SG to Banda Aceh. Book the early flight from SG to KL (745am) to be safe, just in time for the 1155am AirAsia flight to B.Aceh. Return flights from SG to KL and then KL to B.Aceh should set you back no more than 250 SGD. with the KL to B.Aceh price fixed. The B.Aceh airport (bandara sultan iskandar muda) has been completed, compared to this time last year, and as far as Indonesian airports go, is one of the better ones, with a covered linkbridge from plane to the arrival area.

From B.Aceh airport to the Ulee Lheu harbour, its around 90,000 Rupiah per car (share 4 ways with whichever traveler you meet at the airport, no one else goes anywhere other than Weh) and the trip takes about 45 min. At the harbour, the fast ferry (single trip non-a/c at 55000 Rp, and a/c at 65000 Rp, about 1 hr travel time). There’s now a return tix option for 110 000 a/c usable for up to one month. Slow ferry is available too, but i think it takes an extra hour. Soz, i can’t be fcuked to find out prices.

Next from Balohan harbour on Weh, take the minivan or any other transport up to Gapang or Iboih beach. Lowest I’ve got was 40000 Rp per person on a minivan for a 45 min ride. Similarly, the return trip is done by taking the 7am van out of Gapang beach, reached Balohan harbout in time for the 8am fast ferry (slow sets off same time too). From the mainland Ulee Lheu harbour, its a taxi / minivan / kijang / becak ride to the airport. We arranged for a visit by becak to the Pasar Aceh market to look around for an hour before heading off to the airport for the 1245pm flight from Aceh to KL. Then you’re on way to home base, no problem with the KL to SG flight. Just factor in some buffer time when booking, since the KLCC budget terminal gets crowded sometimes.

Other variations to the itinerary is to fly from SG to Penang on AirAsia, then Penang to B.Aceh on Malaysia’s Fireflyz. Then on Weh itself, it makes sense to rent a motorbike so you can visit Sabang and landmarks like Kilometer 0, the easternmost point of Indonesia’s extensive trans-island road network.

Weh. Still a little haven unbeknownst to the multitude of 1st time divers from our fair island. Or more likely it is just the inconvenience of traveling there that keeps it pristine and undisturbed. Whatever the reason, this little secret gem of a place is the retreat of ang moh backpackers and dive enthusiasts.

I stayed at Gapang beach, where the day’s activities revolve around Lumba Lumba Diving Centre. Experienced crowd, with DMs and the peak period crowd going out for dives twice daily, Ton and Marjan’s place is well run, professional, from the BWRAF refresher, and the nice well maintained gear. And no, they didn’t pay me to promote the place. LOLOLOL. Other lovely quirks in the place are the great next door eatery (order BBQ fish/chicken dinner in the afternoon, for a sumptious dinner meal), the local fare up the hill at the local warung just at the junction of Gapang beach entrance, guaranteed to make your mouth water. And the mainstay that is Mama Donut, a local lady selling various sweet treats like jam doughnuts, coconut doughnuts, banana fritters amongst other goodies.

On Sunday, Gapang becomes a weekend family beach, with kids and youths filling up the place. Watch out for the ice cream man on his motorbike, announcing his arrival with “ice cream music”. LOL

Dives. The dives themselves bring up some fascinating animals. It is moray central, and ribbon eels, lionfishes, scorpionfishes are a common sight. Plenty of other critters like nudibranches, shrimps, octopii. I made a mental note to know my fish identification better. =) Here’s a sampling. More can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/morphred/sets/72157624563893307/


Cockatoo waspfish

Crab and Clownfish in anemone

Leaf Scorpionfish

Blue spotted ray and remora suckerfish?

Twin Morays

Twin shrimps

Varicosa? nudibranch


(battlescar galactica?) nudibranch?



Hidden ray
Spot the scorpionfish

Razorfish School

Spot the Scorpionfish


Lionfish slumber party


Ribbon eel

Interlude – Banda Aceh (Or how to do a dive trip to Weh in 4 days)

Backdated to 8May’09 long weekend.

In the long weekend last May (yes i do a lot of long weekend mini getaways), i reached Pulau Weh, in Aceh province. Contrary to what most people think, Banda Aceh is not the run down, dilapidated place due to the tsunami and unsafe due to the ex-separatists movement. In fact, it is be the total opposite.

More after the jump…




Getting there
From KL to Banda Aceh: AirAsia flies 3 times weekly. By careful planning, I was able to reach from SG to My timings were 0910 to 1005 (SG to KL),  1155 to 1220 (KL to Banda Aceh). There was just enough time for transit, so SG to KL time should be earlier. From the airport, take transport to Ulee Lheu harbour (around 30 minutes). The fast boat leaves the harbour at 1600hrs and arrives at 1700hrs at Balohan harbour on Pulau Weh. From there, its a 45 min ride to Gapang beach (ibioh is a bit further i think).

Getting back
Set off very early. Lumba-lumba arranges transport at 7am, and reaches Balohan in time for the 0830 boat. Reach at 0930hrs. You will have some time (i struck a deal with the motorised 3 wheeler driver to explore Banda Aceh and get some souvenirs). The flight is at 1245 to 1510hrs. (BA to KL) and just plan the KL to SG flight accordingly (again with time for transit).

Here’s an update on AirAsia’s flights. It seems the KL to BA flights now go from 1335 to 1400hrs. There should still be enough time to catch the 1600hr boat (factoring the 30min ride to the harbour). Personally I don’t like the change, since it’s a bit tight especially if there are flight delays.

On the way back its 1425 to 1650, later timings again. This would allow for more time to be spent in Banda Aceh itself =) Probably thats the only reason for them to move the timings that i can think of.

The Dives
I stayed at Lumba Lumba Dive. They do 2 dives a day, plus you can arrange for shore dives in the evenings. The beach is a rustic undeveloped stretch. Nothing to do there but eat and sleep. There is a lovely warung just out on the main road, serving local fare. Diving sites Batee Tokong is great (sea fans) are nice. Currents are strong, more pelagic stuff can be found.

So in 4 days of leave, I spent 1 day going there, 2 days diving, 1 day returning to Sg. All in all a great short break.