And they thought theyíd just be there for a dayÖ
The island of Pulau Weh, located off the northernmost tip off the Indonesian region of Sumatra just off the coast near Banda Aceh, has seduced many a day-tripper into staying and setting down roots in its tranquil and idyllic shores.
More popularly known as Sabang (not to be confused with the Sabang Beach in the Philippines), which is the name of the islandís main town and port, visitors find themselves entranced by the islandís laid back atmosphere, communal buzz, and unparalleled diving and snorkeling opportunities.
A word to the wise though, if the idea of an unspoiled, secluded, palm tree-covered white sand island, with a coral reef that makes Australia’s Great Barrier Reef look dull in comparison, sounds attractive, then Pulau Weh is the perfect place to go to.
However, for those who would find it hard to cope without the cushy conveniences of private bathrooms, air conditioners, showers and electricity, then perhaps Bali would be imminently more suitable.
The most popular beaches
Full of that lively island atmosphere, Iboih is fast becoming the top spot that most tourists head for and in consequence, have started to gain a more progressive and less unspoiled feel.
Opposite Iboih about 100 meters off shore is the densely forested Pulau Rubiah Island. Spectacular coral reefs collectively known as the Sea Garden and a colorful array of marine life that may be found surrounding the island has made it the most popular diving and snorkeling spot the whole of Sabang.
Around the headland from Iboih is Gapang Beach. Here, tourists can enjoy a leisurely swim with occasional encounters with sea turtles.
Some nice beaches may also be found near the Sabang town proper. The most popular among these is Pantai Kasih (Love Beach) which boasts of palm fringed white sand shores in the shape of a crescent. The beach is just about a 30-minute walk from town and is considered to be one of the better spots for swimming.
The islandís main income comes from the tourist trade attracted by the dive shops Rubiah Tirta Divers on Iboih and the Lumbalumba Dive Center on Gapang Beach which is owned and run by a Dutch couple who decided to settle on the island in the late 90ís. Gapang Beach offers more choices in accommodations with rooms ranging from the basic to the few more expensive and comfortable bungalows equipped with air conditioning.