About Pulau Banyak – Banyak Islands
Pulau Banyak – in translation “Many Islands” is a group of Islands in the Indian Ocean, 29 km off the West Sumatra Coast, Indonesia.
Locals say 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 full of palm trees, crystal clear water, beautiful marine life, white sandy beaches and mostly no phone signal.
The best place for a honeymoon, to clear your mind and rest your body as well as surfing or trying to live for a few days (or weeks) like Robinson Crusoe.
Banyak Islands and especially the coral life were affected by two earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis in 2004 and 2005.
All the small Islands grow only coconut trees, dill, sometimes banana trees or papaya. Although fresh supply needs to be imported from the nearest harbor in West Sumatra – Singkil. Even though the bigger Islands have better conditions to grow more food and they do farming, in general Banyak Islands are not self-sufficient and majority of food needs to be brought in from Sumatra mainland.
How to get to Banyak Islands
We are not gonna lie, to travel to Banyak Islands can be a little bit of a headache and the few tourists who go there, usually use some local travel agent.
That´s why we have broken down for you the whole process how to get there on your own to make it as easy and as cheap as possible!:)
The Options how to go to Banyak Islands
Fly to Medan (Kualanamu International Airport) in North Sumatra.
From Medan to Singkil harbor
From there you need to go by private car, tourist car or bus to harbor Singkil. It´s about 270 km away and it takes around 8 hours’ drive.
The private car from Medan to Singkil should be around 1 200 000 IDR (120AUD).
Or you can use a Tourist car which is a normal size of a car shared with other people, usually they are able to put 6 people plus driver into the one car! The price is 230k IDR per person (23 AUD).
Going by public bus is the cheapest option and of course the least comfortable.
We would recommend using the public bus only if you do not carry a lot of stuff or big bags, especially no surfboards. The price for public bus should be somewhere around 140k IDR (14 AUD).
The roads are really bad so either way you will decide to go down to Singkil be ready for really long and bumpy road:)
Tip: If you are travelling with a surf board, you will probably experience a problem with drivers. To be able to share the Tourist car with a surfboard, you need to ask the driver to put your surf board on the roof of the car. It will make the situation easier for you, if you will have your own rubber strap with you in case the driver doesn’t have it.
So now you are in Singkil harbor.
From harbor in Singkil to Banyak Island you have two options:
There is a ferry going two times a week to Banyak Islands and costs around 30k IDR per person. The ferry goes on Tuesday at 11 am and Friday at 2 pm.
If it’s not the day when ferry goes, you can jump on any fishing boat with other locals and tourists. Thats what we did:) You need to be at the harbor at 8 am to find yourself the boat. The price is 50k IDR per person (5 AUD) and it takes around 5 hours.
Ferry or fishing boat, both will bring you to the main Island of Banyak Islands which is Balai Island.
Already on the fishing boat they asked us what Island are we heading to and as soon as we got to the harbor in Balai Island, they found us a little boat. You can grab lunch in Balai Island and then keep going wherever you decide to go.
We went to the Tailana Island, which was the first island we wanted to go to!:) It took another 2,5 hours on the smaller boat and we paid 150k IDR per person (15AUD).
How to get around Pulau Banyak
As most of Banyak Islands are uninhabited, you can basically stay only on Sikandang Island, Tailana Island, Tuangku Island, Ujung Batu Island, Palambak Island or Panjank Island. From these Islands you can rent a kayak or small fishing boat and explore the Island you stay on itself or some Islands near by around. Price for kayak or small fishing boat is 150k IDR (15 AUD) per whole day and 100k IDR (10 AUD) per half a day.
From every Island you stay on you can ask the owner of your bungalow to book you a day trip. Depends what Island you wanna go to, the whole day boat trip usually costs around 250k – 350k IDR (25 – 30 AUD) per person.
On these trips they will take you on some nice snorkelling spots, to the local fisherman village and some small deserted Islands.