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Indonesia forum

Clear water, few tourists

Posted by louiseee17 on 30/8/2014 at 22:32


My mum and I are traveling to Indonesia this month. After spending a week in the parks in Sumatra we'd love to see a beach or two the last week. I've been doing a lot of research, but there are so many beaches and some advice from first hand experience would be great. We would love a relaxed, scenic beach, preferably not huge resorts lining the coast with clear waters and nice sand (which I assume isn't too hard to find in Indonesia). I live in Thailand and I love the 'non-resorty', low-key vibe you can find on so many islands here. I was thinking maybe Gili Air and/or Balangan. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated!

Thank you!

#1 louiseee17 has been a member since 30/8/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by mooball on 1/9/2014 at 05:01 TF writer

If you want few tourists, the facilities are likely to be not up to standard because decent places to stay are usually built because there are people coming to visit a place... So I would suggest a place like Pulau Weh where there are quite a few tourists, the water is wonderful, the vibe is very laid back and there a few decent places to stay. I haven't been to the Gilis, but there will be more than a few tourists over that way, I'm sure.

Another option is Karimunjawa in Central Java -- not so many tourists, but again hotels can be a bit rough and there is no electricity for most of the day. So yeah, getting that requirement of few tourists is going to be the biggest problem in my view...

#2 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by Podi on 1/9/2014 at 23:13

I agree with pulau weh. Just got back from freddies and had a eally great time. Few tourists, good food and cheap. Check out banda aceh sites for a day too

#3 Podi has been a member since 1/9/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by SBE on 3/9/2014 at 04:22

It depends what you mean by "non-resorty". Off the top of my head I can't think of many islands in Thailand without tourist resorts on them so it would help if you named one or two of the many islands you love.

Gilis are more Ko Tao type non resorty vibe. Lots of beach bungalows and there are beachbars and restaurants serving western food. Getting there is as easy as getting to a Thai island as well...zillions of travel agents in Bali can sell you minibus and ferry tickets. People are used to seeing westerners sunbathing in bikinis etc

Pulau Weh is a bit harder to reach. It's accessed via Banda Aceh which is still under Sharia law I think (ie strict Muslim culture). You'll probably have to overnight there before catching the ferry. I haven't been to Pulau Weh since 2005 (just after the tsunami when Banda Aceh was still mostly nothing but a huge expanse of rubble and debris) so things have probably changed a lot on Weh too but when I was there it wasn't done to sunbathe in skimpy bikinis in Iboih village which is where the beach is. Beer was available but you had to know the right people and be very discrete about drinking it. It was very expensive I remember, more than the cost of a night's accommodation for a small bintang! I think beer is freely available now but I'm not sure about the local attitude towards sunbathing in skimpy attire. Otherwise it was very laidback and relaxed, the kind of place you spend a lot of time in a hammock doing not a lot. I'm guessing there still aren't many chillax bars or western food options so it's hard to compare it to any Thai island because they all have those things.

Unless they've built a superhighway since I was there, you have to walk through the jungle to get to most of the guesthouses at Iboih so your Mum would have to be able to carry a backpack if you decided stay there. It's not too long a jungle trek..about 20-30 minutes to get to Yulia's if I remember right (Yulia's was the furthest GH from the village) and there's a path but it depends if your Mum has any mobility issues or if squat toilets and cold water mandis freak her out. There are more upmarket places to stay with easier access elsewhere on Weh if that's the case but they're more "resorty"!

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Posted by podimore on 3/9/2014 at 04:40

Just returned from pulau weh. Not at all as described above any more. Bikinis ok on beaches close to resorts and alcohol freely available. Great place to spend time especially santai samur tiga. See above post

#5 podimore has been a member since 10/1/2007. Posts: 2

Posted by louiseee17 on 3/9/2014 at 21:42

Thank you all so much for your input! Pulau Weh seemed perfect for us. We've booked 5 nights there and are very very excited.

#6 louiseee17 has been a member since 30/8/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by tezza on 28/9/2014 at 02:11

Yes indeed. Hafta get myself to Palau Weh soon.

#7 tezza has been a member since 13/4/2006. Posts: 1,345

Posted by marianaamc on 29/9/2014 at 17:43

If you live in Thailand I would advise you maybe to go to Amed just because it's very different but beautiful. I loved it there and great snorkeling from the beaches, no need for boat, in my opinion better than in the gilis. But not very nice sand.

#8 marianaamc has been a member since 30/10/2013. Posts: 62

Posted by louiseee17 on 14/11/2014 at 05:39

Thanks all for your help. Pulau Weh, albeit a bit difficult to access, was great. Very lovely, nice people, great snorkeling. unfortunately it was rainy season at the time, but I would love to go back during high season. Stayed at Nemo's which had a beautiful secluded beach. Would definitely recommend the island.

#9 louiseee17 has been a member since 30/8/2014. Posts: 3

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