Pulau Weh is not only the start of our trip in Indonesia, it is also the official start of Indonesia, marked with Point Zero. Arriving in Pulau Weh is arriving in Paradise. The island is small enough do discover by motorbike but big enough to do this for several days. Driving around the island is wonderful. The views are outstanding, de curvy mountain roads are perfect en the locals are friendly, waving and greeting you passing by. Driving around you'll see monkeys that not only look like grumpy old men, but behave like them as well. Thick ropes functional as speed bumps and at night you can enjoy sunsets in the most wonderful colors. Gecko's vary from size cute (2 cm.) till size what-the fuck! (2 meter) and it looks like age doesn't matter when you want to drive a motorbike, as long as your arms are long enough to reach for the steer.
But not only the world above sea level is amazing. Both snorkelers and divers will find the underwater world fantastic. Only a few meters from the beach you'll find fish in the most amazing colors. The sea stars draped themselves around the coral, the murene sleeps in a little cave and the parrotfish is enjoying her lunch. A bit deeper the coral has the most amazing structures, bit groups of colorful fish and stingrays trying to hide on the bottom of the ocean.
We spent our days walking on the beach looking for shells on Long Beach (and doing a little beach clean up picking up the plastic left behind by the ocean), we enjoyed our peanut butter sandwiches or a tasty banana pancake with chocolate for breakfast, did some swimming, snorkeling or diving, been wondering where to go for lunch, drove around the island looking restaurants for diner and for lovely sunsets.
Flying from Malaysia we arrived at the airport of Banda Aceh. From there you can get a taxi to the port and take a ferry to Pulau Weh. The departure times of the ferry can vary but normally the fast ferry leaves at 09.30 am and 4 pm and the car ferry leaves at 2 pm at Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and at 11 am and 4 pm at Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The fast ferry takes you there in 45 minutes, the car ferry in about 1,5 hour.
'Living' on the island for almost 3 weeks, we were able to get a good taste of the different restaurants and their dishes. We are big fans of Bixio at Long Beach, especially their Brushketta! The Italian owner Luca and his Indonesian wife Eva, make you feel like family. And pre order the Fish Curry for the next day, something you won't regret for sure!
Other favorites are Freddie's at Sumur Tiga (great pizza and best beach view!), Barracuda (love the taco's) and Dan Dangna (best Gado Gado!) at Gapang beach. We aren't big fans of Iboih but it is nice to join the family meal at Norma once. The food is cheap and when you're traveling alone, it's a good opportunity to meet other travellers.
Long beach is the best place to stay when you're looking for a nice beach, lovely ocean, good snorkeling, friendly people and good bungalows.
You have several options but the best ones are Bixio or Apollo Bungalows. Bixio has one beach bungalow with a bucket shower and great view.They also have two bungalows with garden view and a normal shower. The bungalows are clean and have a big balcony.
We stayed at Apollo and loved it! The shower is supposed to be a cold one, but because the waterreservoir is on the roof, the water is never really cold. We even had warm showers. The bungalows are small but have everything you need. They have both aircon and a fan, space under the bed to keep your backpacks and stuff you don't use and some closet space. And the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets! They don't have a website or Facebook yet. Just drive by and Per, the owner, will probably be there to help you out!
Go to Long Beach, step in to the water, walk for about 10 meters, put your snorkeling gear on and put your head in the water. You will discover a beautiful underwater world where you can snorkel between murray eels, parrotfish, moonfish and other amazing colorful fishes and coral. Or go for a dive with one of the diving schools on the island (most of them can be found in Iboih or Gapang Beach). We went diving with Rubia Tirta in Iboih. This is one of the cheapest on the island, but maybe it is better to spent a bit more. We never had time for a buddy check on the boat and the material was not in the best state. We heard really good stories about Monster Divers. And if you like free diving the underwater volcano is nice to visit.
Above sea level you have to visit the Waterfall (avoid the weekend), where you can go for a nice refreshing swim. If you are lucky, you will have the 'pool' for yourself. When we walked up there, a group of young boys followed us. Quite funny to see them play and swim in the water and pose for the photos. Besides Longbeach, there is a really nice beach on the other side of the island: Sumur Tiga. The waves are a bit higher so swimming (and snorkeling) can be a challenge, but the palmtrees waving in the wind give you the real paradise feeling. Point Zero is nice to visit for the sunset.
But the best advice we can give you, is to rent a motorbike for one (or more) days and just drive around the island!