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Welcome to Pulau Banyak


Uninhabited islands, fantastic beaches, coral reefs, colorful fish, virgin jungles and rich wildlife, make Pulau Banyak such a unique place. Pulau Banyak is still a fairly unknown archipelago in South Aceh. 99 dream island. The 4200 people of Pulau Banyak lives in three of them. When you think of white sand beaches, palm trees and turtles, you think of Pulau Banyak. The main village is Desa Pulai Balai, which forms one settlement together with the village Desa P. Baguk in the island of Balai. The other villages are Haloban, Ujung Sialit and Teluk Nibung. Only the island of Balai has electricity (between 5:30 pm and morning). Desa P. Balai has a post office and telegram office. International phone calls can be made over radio. There is no place to change money. The earliest people lived in Tuangku island and arrived from Simeulue. Tuangku become a kingdom in the 18th century, but was controlled by Sultan in Banda Aceh. It was a transit point for the slave traffic between Nias Island and Aceh. The population is today mixed with Minangkabau (Padang), Nias and lately Acehnese. The local languages are Haloban, related to language in Simeulue; and Singkel, a dialect of Padang and Nias. Desa P. Balai became main Village in 1941. The conceptof time hardly exists in Pulau Banyak. Wonderful when you are at the beach, but frustrating when waiting for the boat. Pulau Banyak is still not very big tourist destination and is very Indonesian. Traditional values are strong and the people very much appreciate visitors who try respect their way of life such as "decent" dressing in villages.

Culture

Wedding and circumision-celebrations are colorful and interesting to see. Traditional dance have mainly their origin in the Minangkabau (Padang), but are speifi for Pulau Banyak. A very special dance is the "Lansir Madam" which is an odd remnant of Dutch colonial era. This dance has been kept alive by local dance troop. The "Tabus" dance more of magicians show and can be a scary experience

Beaches

The biggest attractrion for most visitor is the beaches. Endless white sand beaches of many different kinds. Palm fringed calm beaches with glistering sand. Jungle fringed beaches. Big waves or small waves. Deep or shallow. You name it and Pulau Banyak has it. Imagine your self there. Completely alone with maother nature, Sea, sand and blue sky.

Jungles

The low land jungles of bigest islands are still very intact and unknown. A heaven for the jungle lover. There are plenty of small rivers, different kind of caves, interesting animals and vegetation and a 313 m high mountain to climb. A breath taking view over the islands will keep you up there. Slowly venturing up one the rivers by canoe is like a religious experiene.

Turtles in Bangkaru Island

The Governor of the Special Province of Aceh has declared Bangkaru Island a national park. In all the other islands of Pulau Banyak, there are also restriction on development, other than for eco-tourism. The magic of Bangkaru Island is second biggest island of Pulau Banyak. It's geographical position and it's jungle makes it difficult and adventurous to reach, but very rewarding if you do. Bangkaru is one of the most unique Island in the world. The most magic thing to do here is, in the middle of the tropical night, to watch Green Turtles and Leather Back Turtles lay eggs. Every night all year arround, and average of 15-10 turtles lay eggs on one of the most beautiful beaches one can visit. "The foundation for saving the turtles and the environtment of Pulau Banyak" has started a project to protect and increase the turtle population. This foundation was formed by the locals themselves and is supported by the government of Aceh. Every week foundation arranges a trip to Bangkaru in order to finance their work. There is no other way to see the turtles. Bangkaru Island is only island in Pulau Banyak where you come in second place. Here it is the turtles that have preference instead.

Turtle Trips

These trips should be organized regularly, but so far have only been done ocasionally. If a trip gets going, the boat leaves early morning, hopefully, and picks you at your accomodation. Ariving in Bangkaru at the landing beach Pelanggaran. Geting in to the beach is done with a small canoe or by swimming. Beware of shark. At this beach the foundation has erected a sleeping platform a kitchen. Visit the turtle beach Amandangan at night. You will trek there in darkness, balancing on trunks over mud holes, slipping and sliding for 30 minutes. The moment you enter Amandangan will be memorable for starlit beach, the sound of breaking waves, dark rocks rising tall, and the sounds of the jungle behind. As soon as the turtle has been located by one of your guides you can study the whole amazing process of laying turtle eggs. If you stay on the hours before sunrise, you will see hundreds of turtle inflats heading for the sea, may be hunted by lizards and eagles. In the sea , the shark are eagerly waiting for their breakfast. The rest of time in Pulau Bangkaru can be spent on the fantastic beaches. Visit the "Pintu Rimba" (the jungle gate) far south of the turtle beach. That is a natural portal in a rock formation. On one side the ocean, under it is a small sand beach, and behind it rivulet coming down from the lush jungle. Further down the coast is nicce calm beach with some of few cocconut trees found in Bangkaru. Near the landing beach, Pelanggaran, is a small cave with a perfect sunset view. Nearby zre some caves that only entered from the sea. The guards are always happy to show you arround. On the third day you can head back, stopping by at some coral island for lunch and snorkeling.
Do not bring more than you relly need. If the waves are too big on the day of return, you will have to carry your stuff through the jungle to the north side of Bangkaru (Teluk Asin). You are likely get wet. Wrap your cameras in plastic for safety. Bring a change of dry clothes. Sleeping conditions are simple. Mattresses and pillow are not yet supplied. Bring a bottle of water that can be refilled. Sun lottion is recommended. Biscuits are always in shortage. You need a torch for the walk through the jungle. (Not allowed to use on the turtle beach though). It is strictly forbidden to touch or disturb the turtles.

Wild Life

The uniqueness of Pulau Banyak with it's combination of coral island and jungle is also reflected in it's wild life. The sea is rich with fish. Green turtles, Leather Back Turtles, Hawk Bill Turtles, dolphin and even whales are just few of the sea creatures. Even the other wise almost extict Dugong can often be seen in Pulau Banyak. In some of the rivers there still are croodiles. In the jungles there are monkeys, squirrels, wild boards, lizards and snakes. When looking up to the blue sky you will see all the beautiful birds; herons, eagles, doves beo birds, humming birds and many more.

Some of the many attractions

"Air Dingin" is very different place. You leave the sun drenched world of coral islands and enter a small river. A couple of hundred meters up, through the jungle, the river flows up from its well. The water is cool and refreshing . The trees keep the sun out and its like being in an air conditioned room.
The passage between Matahari Island and Orongan Island is very with its bird life. Go up the Kuala Gadang River and see the very tall and unique mangrove trees. Stop by at the cliff of Tambego near Ujung Sialit Village and see the caves. Choose your "own" coral island. Any island will have something for you. The island with beach acccomodations have their own attractions. Palambak Besar Island has its nearby island, sand banks and jungle to offer. Rangit Besar Island and Panjang Island have the small twin island Malelu between themselves as a special feat in the middle if the sunset.Ujung Batu island has it's dramatic rock formation and it's jungle to offer. The island close to Balai Village can be reached by paddling a small canoe by your self or with a local. You ccan make nice day trips to Baguk, Tapus-tapus, and Panjang Islands. The Jungle and big-wave-beaches of Tuangku Island are unique and trek here can be arranged in Haloban. If you do, do not miss the bat caves and the bird's nest ccaves. The mountain Tiusah behind Haloban is highest in Pulau Banyak. Covered with dense jungle make it into an interesting climb. The view is breath taking. The coral reefs of Pulau Banyak are wide spread and rich variation. Where ever you will stay, you will have ample possibilities for snorkeling.


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