Since we, Indonesian, got a bunch of long weekend this month and also next month. As a full time corporate worker and a part time traveler, I surely didn’t want to take it for granted! Also, I’ve got this itchy feet to be under the surface again. It’s been 1,5 year after my last dive in Maldives – I know, right! That’s why, without any hesitation I booked a flight to Aceh just 2 weeks before departure. Impulsive? I am!
Then why Sabang? People tend to name islands in the east of Indonesia whenever they got question about the best beaches in the country. Well, maybe I’d do the same even though in my truly opinion, Belitung Island – clearly my best nomination as the most beautiful beach that I’ve been to – until now. Hence, I once again wanna hit the west part, seeking for another beauty of this country, to prove that we got all the beach crown all from Sabang till Merauke (the most south-eastern part of Indonesia)
How to Get There
If you leave from Jakarta, take an early direct flight to Banda Aceh. Make sure your plane will be landed in Aceh before 9 pm. Preferably at 8 pm. So that you have enough time to travel from airport to Ulee Lheu harbour. Take a becak (tuk-tuk) or taxi to the harbour. For the taxi, normally they will ask for IDR 140k per-trip. Better find somebody to share the car if they have same direction as you.
The reason why I encourage you to have an early flight is so that you can catch a fast boat that scheduled at 9.30. Otherwise you will need to wait another 5 hours to take the next boat. Check here for the schedule. For the fast boat it cost IDR 80,000 and the ticket can be purchased in the harbour.
Where to Stay
There are 2 areas that are common to stay at, Sumur Tiga and Iboih. Iboih is the most popular one, it’s like a small village packed with guesthouses, shops and restaurants. Iboih Inn might be your first choice if you’re lucky enough since they hardly found vacant – check their reviews, and you will understand why. If you stay in Sumur Tiga, you might prefer to stay in Freddies Santai or Casanemo. By far, that are the most popular homestay in the area, excellent value for money and good location.
I myself stayed at Treetop Guesthouse, a brand new guesthouse in Iboih. The location is a bit secluded but still fine to get around. Furthermore, it also offered a good value for money. I chose this place, because I ran out rooms in Iboih inn, Casanemo, and Freddies. Apparently, Treetop Guesthouse was quite satisfying. I got a bungalow just in front of the beach, with a balcony to oversee the ocean. I even kept the balcony door open during the night, so that I could hear the sound of nature while I was sleeping. It was pitch black surround with the waves noise and bugs chirping. Such a peaceful night, indeed. And when I got up in the morning, the calmness view of the sea definitely gasped me. I loved it!
What to Do
Beach hopping for sure! Since it’s an island, beach hopping is always a good idea. When you arrived at Balohan Harbour, I suggested not to go directly to your hotel – wherever you stay at. If you rent a car, ask your driver to take the beach road and stop by at every beach that you pass, because all of them are connected by the same line. The first beach you’ll meet is Anoi Itam (the one with the black sand), then Sumur Tiga beach, Kasih beach, Gapang beach, Iboih beach, and all the way to the north. 4 hours is enough to get through all of these lines.
Diving. This was the main reason I came here. I dedicated whole of my second day to dive with Bubble Addict, a new born diving provider located at Gapang beach. I saw their brochure in the Treetop office, and interested to dive with them since they offered a better price than others. My dive went well, only a little bit not satisfied with the diving spot I got in. It was nice, but not spectacular. If you expected the to-die-for corals, Sabang is not the place. But you might see the school of fish, sharks, the rays family -If you’re lucky of course. On top of that, even though it’s new, but Bubble Addict managed the service really good and professional.
The Kilometer Zero of Indonesia. Have you been to the most corner point of your country? I have! So glad and proud to land my feet here! Because y’know, not every Indonesian got an opportunity to come here, and not even knowing that we do have a Kilometre 0 monument.
What to Eat
Definitely – Mie Aceh! My driver took me to a very local Mie Aceh place in Sabang – he claimed that it was the best Mie Aceh in town.. Mie Jeunib it is!
If you fancy an Italian cuisine – you can try the restaurant in Freddies Sumur Tiga. It got a very good review towards the taste, but I didn’t get the chance to try.
Overall, life in Sabang was very chill. If you are looking for a laid-back zone with extremely affordable lodge by the beach, I tell you this is the place! 😉