Pulau Banyak – the Indonesian hidden paradise
Pulau Banyak – in translation “Many Islands” is a group of Islands in the Indian Ocean, 29 km off the West Sumatra Coast, Indonesia.
Local says its 99 separate Islands. Some of them as tiny as 5 metres long and 90% of Banyak Islands are uninhabited. For us it is the ultimate paradise! Every Island is ful of palm trees, crystal clear water, beautiful underwater life, white sandy beaches and mostly no phone signal.
There is no ATM, so make sure you will withdraw enough money in Singkil or better in Medan after arriving at the airport.
Balai, which is the main Island where the ferry or fishing boat will take you first, you can find some small shops with basic stuff. But all the other smaller Islands have no shops, so make sure you will stock up yourself with anything you can need or want:) Especially sun block and all the medicine you can possibly need.
Except of Tailana Island, there are a lot of mosquitos as well as sand flies. Our advice is to bring enough of mosquito repellent on your body and for your bungalow.
How to get there
Banyak Islands price bungalow
Most of the accommodation on Banyak Islands are little, very basic, bungalows. And most of them work the same way. Price for night includes 3 x meals as there is no shop or restaurant to go to. Its little bit different on the bigger Islands like Palambak Island, Ujung Batu Island or Tuangku Island. They have some restaurants and warongs and you can choose if you want to have meals included or if you wanna eat out.
But as we were only on the small islands, because there is the lifestyle we love, we will talk about how it works there:)
The price is more or less the same, its approximately 375k IDR – 400k IDR per bungalow for 2 people. And the price includes 3x meals with unlimited coffee, water and tea all they long.
The bungalows are really basic. Wooden structure, roof from palm trees leaves, usually just mattress or bed with mosquito net and outside balcony.
Toilets and showers are shared for all bungalows. Toilet is usually the Indonesian squadding toilet and shower is tap with bucket. Electricity is in the dining area and turns on between 7pm and 10 pm. The phone and internet signal is rare to find:)
Meals are different on every Island and it really depends on the staff of each bungalow. Your breakfast, lunch and dinner will depend on their cooking skills, if they can catch fish and if they are running out of supplies or not. It happened to us that they were waiting for boat to come and bring the fresh food so our lunch and dinner was just plain rice and boiled egg:))
Lucky we had our fishing gear with us and we could safe every bodies dinner by providing few fish.
Camping on Banyak Islands
We were told you can as well camp on those Islands where there is no accommodation. You can rent a tent and for about 60k IDR you can stay on whatever Island you will choose. If you will ask locals, they will supply you with water and some food. Although we haven’t tried this option so we can’t give you more information about it.
Banyak Islands weather ＆ Best time to go
Banyak Islands have tropical climate with temperatures around 30 degrees and ocean is almost the same temperature:)
There is rainy season from August to January, with often rain and higher temperatures, and dry season from February to July, with little bit of wind and temperatures are more comfortable.
The high season for tourists is around Christmas and New Year and then June to August. We went in the end of February and the weather was just perfect, yet the Islands were totally empty and just for ourselves!
Tip: As there is very limited internet connection, it’s really hard for local people to manage and reply your online bookings. And we heard it’s not rare that despite people booking their accommodation in advance, after getting on the particular island, there is no spot for them. Locals often especially on the smaller islands just take guests whoever comes first.
Go to Tailana Island or Sikandang Island out of the high season. When you arrive on the main Island Balai by ferry or by fishing boat, ask boat drivers if the Island you want to go to have a free bungalow for you before you go there:)
Which Banyak Island is the best
Of course all of them are just the paradise Islands with white sandy beaches and palm trees everywhere, picturesquely bending over the crystal clear blue water.
But we would definitely recommend the Tailana Island, Sikandang Island and Pambak Island.
Tailana Island is a tiny little Island, which you can walk around in 15 minutes. There is only one accommodation with 13 bungalows and the internet connection is almost none.
It’s the only Island without mosquitoes and no sand flies, which will make your life so much easier!:)
The owner is really nice, the Island is just beautiful and during high season there is a diving centre operating for those who would be interested in diving lessons!
The accommodation is 375k IDR per two people with 3x meals and unlimited coffee, tea and water.
Sikandang Island is little bit bigger Island. They say it take around 3 hours to walk around, although we haven’t tried it.
There are two accommodation next to each other, Nina’s bungalows and Coral Bungalows. Together there are around 16 bungalows. We have stayed at Nina’s bungalow for 400k IDR per both of us per night with meals and drinks included.
Sikandang Island is perfect for renting a kayak of small fishing boat and explore the entire Island or the tiny Islands around.
Renting a kayak or fishing boat is 150k IDR (15AUD) per day or 100k IDR per half a day.
If you are lucky, this is the Island where you can spot dolphins and whales around!