Pantai Iboih, also known as Teupin Layeu, is located opposite the west bank of the legendary Pulau Weh, or Weh Island, in northern Aceh, Sumatra’s most northern province. Pantai Iboih (Iboih Beach) will bring your expectations of natural beauty to a whole new level. This small, hidden paradise has remained largely untouched by much of the tourist traffic, giving it a more relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Its forests are well protected by Iboih’s charming coastline of golden sands that is strewn with giant boulders.
The shallow ocean water which is so clear that you can see the ocean bed, has a bluish-green hue which exudes a feeling of peace and relaxation. The coast which appears to be curved, resembles lips, smiling and welcoming passersby to come and partake in its warmth and see the exotic flora and fauna of the tropical rainforests that are part of Indonesia’s natural wealth.
Near the town of Iboih is a large protected forest reserve. It is no exaggeration when this protected forest is described as a paradise, as noted by many visiting tourists. You can explore the forests which has a lovely beach nearby that is available for when you want to cool off and swim among the small fish and colorful coral. The tropical forest trees also give shade to many parts of the sandy beaches.
Banda Aceh Airport is the gateway to Iboih, lying 40 km. to the south on the tip of Aceh Province. Flight time from Jakarta to Banda Aceh Airport is approximately 2 hours, 40 minutes. There are daily flights to Banda Aceh from Jakarta and Medan with Garuda Indonesia , Sriwijaya Air , and Lion Air.
From Banda Aceh, make your way to the Ulue-lue port where you have the options of either a ferry or speedboat to Sabang , on Pulau Weh. The speedboat costs takes about 45 minutes to get to Sabang Port with departures twice daily. The ferry ride will take around 2 hours. When you get to Pulau Weh, you can catch a bemo (minibus) to Iboih which is about 40 minutes away via a picturesque, hilly drive through a number of rustic villages.
West Sumatra is iconic for its amazing natural wonders, its looming mountains, deep canyons, green rice fields, interspersed with large houses whose roofs are shaped like buffalo horns; it maintains its lasting traditions and recently it is loved for its yummy food, in particular its award-winning Rendang. But aside from these, the province has only now revealed its new secret destination which is fast gaining popularity: The Mandeh Islands, in the south west of the province facing the Indian Ocean, located not too far from its capital city: Padang.
Now popularly dubbed the Raja Ampat of West Sumatra, the Mandeh archipelago is nestled in the Carocok Tarusan Bay and counts a number of islands, among which are the Tarajun, Setan Kecil, Sironjong Besar and Sironjong Kecil, Pulau Merak and the Cubadak Island. Among these only one has a tourist resort called the Cubadak Paradiso, owned and managed by an Italian entrepreneur.
Covering an area of 70 hectares of underwater beauty, the islands are fringed with 389 hectares of mangrove forests and white beaches. Its undulating landscape of luxuriant hills and pristine bay area is studded with small islands, a perfect photogenic post card panorama! Only one hour’s drive from the city of Padang, the beaches of Mandeh slope to calm blue seas luring all to just jump in and swim in its cool waters.
Today, tourists go to Mandeh to snorkel, scuba dive, go camping, do skydiving, banana boating and go fishing.
Make your way to the top of Mandeh Hill, and be prepared to be mesmerized by even more breathtaking views of the Carocok Tarusan Bay and its environment. Exotic tropical plants of Coconut Palms, Hibiscus and Jackfruit Trees fringe the white sandy beaches. Mandeh stretches over seven villages, encompassing three sub-districts known locally as Nagari, with a population of almost 10,000 people. Take time to explore this scenic underwater wonderland, with vivid colored sea life.
Upong arrival at the Minangkabau International Airport in Padang, you can choose either land transportation or take the sea route. Taxis or rented cars can be found at the airport that can take you straight to Carocok Painan Beach area within 2-3 hours. Remember to check the meter. Or agree on the price before you board the taxi. Mandeh is located at Koto Sembilan Tarusan, some 56 kilometer south from Padang.
There is also public transport, but this will require you to take several different kinds in a single trip to Mandeh. First take a mini bus to Pasar Raya Padang, then hop on a Travel van towards Pasar Tarusan and finally ride the Bentor or Becak Motor to Carocok Terusan Harbour to take a boat to Mandeh Islands.
If you prefer sea transport, you can choose to ride fast boats from Teluk Bayur or Bungus. The Bintang Mandeh tourist boat is another choice departing from Muara Padang Harbor.
If you travel in a group, it will be more convenient to rent a minibus or van to take you around the Mandeh region. To hop around the smaller islands, you need to find a trusted boatman and experienced guide, who can also show you where are the best diving spots.
The Stunning Samosir Island
The island of Samosir is situated in the huge crater lake of Toba. It is the heart of the Toba Batak culture. A visit to Lake Toba is not complete without a stay on Samosir with its many traditional villages along its shoreline. On the east side of the island, the land rises steeply from a narrow strip of flat land along the lake’s water edge climbing to a central plateau that towers some 780 meters above the waters. From this height one can have a wonderful panoramic view on this magnificent blue lake.
As you step down the ferry at Tomok you will be greeted by a row of souvenir stalls selling an array of Batak handicraft, from the traditional hand-woven ulos cloths to Batak bamboo calendars and all kinds of knick-knacks. Further north of Tomok is a small peninsula, known as Tuktuk Siadong, or simply Tuktuk, best loved for its sandy beaches and beautiful lush scenery. Here the soft lapping blue waters of lake Toba blend with the green pastures. Although offering beaches and opportunities for watersports, yet the air here is cool as it is located high in the mountains. Therefore, Tuktuk become a favorite with tourists, so here you will find a plethora of small hotels and homestays, restaurants and handicrafts galore.
The town of Parapat is around four to five hours from Medan by private car or rented vehicles. You can also take the train that serves Medan-Pematang Siantar, then board a bus from here to Parapat, which takes around 2 hours.
Tourist buses also take passengers from Medan to Parapit via Lubuk Pakam, Tebing Tinggi, to Pematang Siantar. Along the route enjoy the panorama of palm oil and rubber tree plantations. From Parapat, ferries take passengers to Tuktuk to the pier located near major hotels.
Administratively, it is part of Banyuasin district and has been a national park since March 19th 2003, when it was separated from the Berbak National Park in Jambi. This area is called Sembilang because it has many Sembilang fish (Plotosus canius). The Banyuasin Peninsula, located on the east coast of South Sumatra, is a haven for water birds. Its muddy lands and sands border mangroves resulting in ideal habits for various types of invertebrates such as worms, mollusks, and crustaceans. The actual peninsula sticks out into the sea for 1.5 km which makes this land an ideal stop for migrant birds from Asia and Europe from October to December.