Travelblog#32: Pulau Weh – Sumatra, Indonesia

14th-19th December, 2014


During my time on Pulau Weh I stayed at Yulia’s Guest House. It may not have had a sandy beach but its restaurant area balanced over the water, and the background sound of waves breaking against the rocks, more than made up for that.


I was a little tired from my jungle trek and my bus journey through the Gayo Highlands, so I didn’t do much at first. I rested, slept, and the next day I woke up with enough energy to jump into the sea and swim over to the nearby Rubiah Island for some snorkelling. There wasn’t much coral – much of it had been swept away by the tsunami in 2004 – but there was lots of fish, and I even spotted a moray. There are some efforts currently underway to create an artificial reef, and on the day I was there I witnessed some divers busily attaching corals to concrete objects which had been dropped to bottom of the seabed, to help encourage more to grow on them.

When I swam back to Yulia, Dominique had arrived and was sat in the restaurant area. For those of you who haven’t read my other blogs; Dominique is a Canadian girl I keep bumping into because we are taking similar routes through Sumatra. The last time I saw her was at Lake Toba, but we already knew when we parted back then that our paths would cross again. She had a new friend with her; Oleg, a young German man she met on the boat.

After a quick catch up over breakfast, the three of us wandered over to Iboih Dive Centre: Dominique was interested in getting her PADI Open Water Diver certificate, and Oleg and I were just interested in general diving. The prices we were quoted were remarkably cheap (probably the cheapest I have come across in Asia so far) and the outfit seemed quite professional, so I told them I would be going under with them the next morning.

Over the two days which followed, I ended up blowing the last of the funds that I had put aside for diving. I saw barracudas, turtles, several mimic octopi which we watched for a while as they shifted their shapes to impersonate the corals around them, dozens of morays, and countless of other species that I cannot even name. Most rewarding though, for me, was the underwater landscapes of dramatic canyons, caves and ocean walls – all covered in beautiful coral, and teeming with schools of fish.

I spent the rest of my time on Pulau Weh relaxing: I read books while lazing in my hammock, wandered around Iboih, I made a few friends, and in the evenings I ate at Oongs Restaurant, where Oong herself a cooked up a delicious family style buffet dinner of vegetables and fish every night.

On my final day there it was raining but I knew that, despite this, there was one last thing I needed to do before I left: a motorcycle tour.

I still had not got back behind the wheel since my little accident on Lake Toba, and it felt like something I needed to do soon to regain my confidence. Pulau Weh was an ideal place for this because the roads are good and there are some attractions around the island which I wanted to check out, so, I packed my raincoat, snorkel and a bottle of water into my daypack, and set off.


I drove quite slowly and carefully at first, but I soon got the hang of it again and within a few minutes I was roaming around with confidence. Aneuk Laot Lake and the volcano near Jaboi village were both quite disappointing, to be honest – the lake was not very pretty and surrounded by sludgy banks and houses, and the volcano didn’t have a crater and was just a sulphurous gash in the mountain – the coastal road, however, was great.


What I did find very interesting was the underwater volcano which is just off the shore from a beach near Gapang. It didn’t take long to find it; I just swam out and suddenly found myself surrounded by bubbles escaping from a series of fumaroles. They were only about 10 meters down, so it was very easy to duck dive and get a closer look at the volcanic cracks on the ocean floor.

More photos from Pulau Weh can be found on my Flickr.

Published by Tej Turner

Tej Turner is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. His debut novel The Janus Cycle was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and its sequel Dinnusos Rises was released in 2017. Both of them were described as ‘gritty and surreal urban fantasy’. He has also had short stories published in various anthologies. He has since branched off into writing epic fantasy with a novel called Bloodsworn published in early 2021. The first in his ‘Avatars of Ruin’ series. Tej Turner has spent much of his life on the move and does not have any particular place he calls ‘home’. For a large period of his childhood, he dwelt within the Westcountry of England, and he then moved to rural Wales to study Creative Writing and Film at Trinity College in Carmarthen, followed by a master’s degree at The University of Wales Lampeter. After completing his studies, he moved to Cardiff, where he works as a chef by day and writes by moonlight. He is also an intermittent traveller who every now and then straps on a backpack and flies off to another part of the world to go on an adventure. So far, he has clocked two years in Asia and a year in South America. He hopes to go on more and has his sights set on Central America next. When he travels, he takes a particular interest in historic sites, jungles, wildlife, native cultures, and mountains. He also spent some time volunteering at the Merazonia Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Ecuador, a place he hopes to return to someday.

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