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Diving Pulau Weh
As soon as our faces broke the surface at Battee Gla dive site we knew we would all be in for an impressive five days of diving. Conditions were ideal, visibility exceeded 35 meters and the currents were swirling round the finger shaped cluster of rocks at the north west point of the island.
We were on a volcanic island, diving Pulau Weh, in Aceh northern Sumatra. To say this area is exposed is surely an understatement, this is the last point of western Indonesia, so called ‘Kilometer 0’. As Ton, owner of Lumba Lumba Diving puts it ‘you feel like your at the edge of the world’ and in many ways you are. The start of the dive Pulau Weh was fairly easy going but as we began to pass the point the currents began to pick us up and send us in all directions imaginable, much of the dive was spent clinging onto rocks and taking in the action.
Even Arun, an experienced guide came up with a beaming smile ‘strong current’ he breathed as we climbed back onto the boat.
Our afternoon dive was somewhat more relaxing. As we drifted along the reef slopes of Rubiah Sea Garden we got a chance to spot some the rare marine life that you might only expect from a dive in Indonesian waters. Dart Gobies, Frogfish, Carrier Crabs, Morays of all kinds and many other critters all made appearances.
By the time we returned to the diveshop the familiar face of Mama Donut greeted us, her green basket in hand. Mama Donut is just another example of how well Lumba Lumba integrate themselves with the local community, at just over 5 pence a donut she has made a living from this trade for over 5 years. Just alongside the diveshop the boat that was built after the Tsunami is having its hull refitted. Local craftsman from the village use exactly the same techniques they have done so for generations, using only natural local materials. Many of the Divemasters are locals that have been trained up at no cost as part of their way of involving local people.
Another highlight was the Hot Springs dive site, as we approached we could smell the Sulphur as it passed up through the volcanic vents below. We jumped in and made our way towards the bubbles which rise up from large cracks in the sea bed. The water was a lot colder than at the other sites so we all found a vent to sit in and warm up - our own Jacuzzi in the sea. Between dives to the outer reefs we all got plenty of time in on the house reef, at any point in the day or early evening its possible to grab a tank, walk just a few meters from the dive shop to the house reef then spend as much time as you like looking for rare critters on the sand or reef slopes of Gapang Beach. This dive is in many ways similar to a muck dive on the Lembeh Straits, the diversity is simply astounding, ideal for photographers of all ability.
With such a variety of first class dive sites the journey to Pulau Weh is surely worth the extra effort.
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