Devastated by the 2004 tsunami, Banda Aceh has largely recovered, undergoing considerable developments. Today, this historically important transit hub is a popular tourist gateway that offers unforgettable sunsets over the Malacca strait and hidden beaches with golden sand and transparent waters not far from the city. The violent natural disaster did not destroy all historical monuments, and the 130-year-old Grand Mosque is a proud survivor of the tsunami - a beautiful site to visit. To learn more about the phenomenon that changed Aceh forever, visit the Tsunami Museum, a modern interactive exhibit that will take you through the tragic event via images, simulation rooms and sound experiences. We also have some surprisingly excellent guides in the region.
Aceh is located north of the Gunung Leuser national park, and shares with southern Sumatra a rich biodiversity. Dense forests are home to many species of primates and birds, and the Alas river offers exciting kayak and rafting opportunities from Angasan up to Gelomban village. At the northern tip of Sumatra is Weh island, an outstanding diving spot where you can swim with rays and whale sharks or snorkel in the shallow coral reef of the protected reserve. Beach goers will enjoy Iboih beach in the south, or Sumur Tiga beach near Sabang, which is a little less crowded.
For a real off-the-beaten track adventure, head to the west coast where you can test your windsurfing skills or discover traditional villages. Or else, cross to Simeleulue or venture off to the Banyak islands for a real Robinson Crusoe experience. Though the lack of infrastructure may affect the comfort of your stay, you will be rewarded by Sumatra’s most beautiful beaches, world-class waves, colourful coral reefs and inhabited atolls that you can explore on an island hopping excursion.