Gapang is a quiet sand track along a beach, dotted with the occasional huge mangrove tree in the north of Pulau Weh. It has one small Indonesian resort at one end (which looked closed), Lumba Lumba Dive Lodge and a handful of shacks offering delicious noodles, curries and fish dishes. A perfect, quiet, "get away from it all" kind of place.
The dive team at Lumba Lumba are efficient and punctual, a rare experience in the laid back existence of SE Asia. The first dive of the day is normally 9am except on Fridays when the dive centre respects the local fishermen’s Islamic custom of not taking to the sea until after 12 o’clock prayer.
So after a lazy Friday morning still trying to sort out our jet lag, we were ready for the 2pm dive and the boat pushed off 5 minutes early, everyone keen to explore the deep waters just off the islands north west tip, referred to as “Degree Zero” the most westerly tip of Indonesia.
The visibility was generally fantastic, up to 30 metres on the clearest dives and generally with good currents encouraging shoals of bigger fish. We did 5 dives over 3 days seeing shoals of trevally, jack fish, red toothed triggerfish and surgeon fish, a few giant trevally, copious moray eels and at least one octopus on every dive. Our two highlights were a Napoleon Wrasse who must have been over 5 feet long and looked like he owned the reef, and an eagle ray elegantly and effortlessly gliding through the plankton rich currents.
Many thanks must go to Laura and Helen from Manta Divers in the Gili Islands for providing me with these fantastic underwater shots.
After 4 days we were sad to be heading on so soon, but it felt good to have a few dives under our belt after a 4 month absence from being under the water. Next step, to begin exploring Sumatra’s interior.
The busy highway along Gapang Beach
The quiet lush coastline of north Pulau Weh
What a spot! This huge Napoleon Wrasse was over 5 feet long and "owned" the reef!
A cow fish in the shallows
A giant moray is cleaned by a cleaner wrasse, whilst a juvenile emperor angel fish investigates
This wasp fish pretends to be a leaf in the shallows of Gapang bay
Huge sea fans cover the underwater canyon sides off the north west tip
The rice paddies and their volcano guardians line the roadway back to the airport at Banda Aceh. This area of Indonesia was hit hardest by the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, and carried the highest death toll and destruction of any region. Significant amount of national and international aid has been plunged into the region, but it is still recovering.