Sabang, Pulau We
Sabang is the largest city on the island of Weh or Pulau Weh. Weh is a small, active volcanic island, just northwest of Sumatra. It's at the northern end of the Indonesian Archipelago and at one time, was a coal loading station for ships passing between Europe and Asia. Today, the island is known for its ecosystem and much of its surrounding sea and inland areas have been declared as wildlife protection areas by the Indonesian government.
Pulau Weh attracts visitors seeking underwater diving, hiking through the volcanic mountains and relaxation by the beach. Those venturing into the city will see some of the remaining colonial buildings and the large trees that offer them shade. The island and city are virtually untouched by tourism and a sense of adventure when exploring ashore is needed.
Going Ashore in Sabang
The ship is scheduled to dock at either the port of Sabang, located within walking distance to town or Balohan, approximately a one-hour drive from Sabang. Taxis may be available outside the terminal building. Be sure to agree on the fare before leaving the port.
Shopping in Sabang is limited to the goods and services used by the locals, and the morning market is open most days. Within the port, stalls with some souvenirs may be available. There are a very limited number of ATMs in Sabang; use cash at local businesses. Be careful using credit cards as cloning and fraud are issues in Indonesia. Only Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted at major establishments; other credit cards are not widely used. The local currency is the rupiah.
The majority of Sabang's dining facilities are in town or at beach areas. Coffee shops feature Acehnese coffee. Food stalls offer a good selection of local delicacies. Gado gado, a peanut and salad based dish, noodles, fish, barbecue and curries are the favourite dishes. In Indonesia, eating with your hand (instead of utensils) is very common. Diners use four fingers to pack a ball of rice, which they then dip in sauces before popping into the mouth with the thumb. The higher-end restaurants will provide cutlery upon request. Beer and banana brandy are the local adult beverages. Be sure to order your food well in advance and have patience; food is served on island time.
Outside of the city itself, most visitors prefer to visit the local beaches. Gapang and Iboih beaches are the most popular and offer swimming, snorkelling and diving opportunities. A 40-50 minute ferry ride is necessary to reach these areas and the local ferries can be inconsistent.
Due to the limited number of suitable vehicles and English-speaking guides, private arrangements are not possible in this port.