The Top 8 Beaches in Sumatra, Indonesia

Boat to Lengkuas Islands

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Even though the Indonesian island of Sumatra is the sixth-largest in the world, it feels a little off-the-beaten-path, its beaches obscure to most travelers. But their out-of-the-way nature is part of their charm: You’ll find yourself surfing in world-class breaks next to traditional seaside villages, or swimming with fishing boats bobbing just a few meters away. Many of them are located on remote islands that take a little extra effort to reach—but we swear the work is worth it.

If you’re putting Sumatra on your Indonesia itinerary, consider going out of your way to see these gorgeous beaches when you visit. 

01 of 08

Iboih Beach, Pulau Weh

Iboih Beach, Pulau Weh Island, Aceh

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Iboih Beach, Iboih, Sukakarya, Sabang City, Aceh, Indonesia

Straddling the western entrance into the Malacca Strait, Pulau Weh lies on the northernmost tip of Sumatra across from Aceh Province. Its remote location has preserved the natural beauty of its beaches, particularly Iboih Beach.

Iboih is as close to “marooned in paradise” as you can get on Aceh—think clear waters, dazzling white sand, and the 1,300-hectare Iboih Recreational Forest, which you can hike or simply admire from afar. The waters, too, are calmer compared to other Sumatra beaches; dive into the waters around Iboih and nearby Rubiah Island, where you can glimpse sea turtles, whale sharks, and the occasional manta ray.

02 of 08

Tanjung Kelayang, Bangka-Belitung Islands

Lighthouse on Lengkuas island near Tanjung Kelayang, Belitung

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Tanjung Kelayang Beach, Indonesia

Tanjung Kelayang is on the brink of a transformation: a 2019 law has designated this pristine Belitung Island shoreline a “Special Economic Zone” to rival Bali in the near future. Come and enjoy Tanjung Kelayang, then, before the masses arrive. Enjoy the white sand beach and the sight of the giant granite boulders dotting the landscape. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Belitung’s clear waters. Or, book an island-hopping trip that explores the offshore islets, among them the iconic Lengkuas Island with its 139-year-old lighthouse. If you’re traveling solo and have some money to burn, book a jet ski to zip through these islands at your leisure.

03 of 08

Lampuuk Beach, Aceh Besar

Silhouette Man Sitting On Driftwood At Lampuuk Beach

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Lampuuk Beach, Aceh, Indonesia

It’s a gorgeous beach with a tragic backstory. Lampuuk Beach was a jewel in Aceh’s tourist crown, until the 2004 Tsunami wiped out its resorts, felled the forest cover, and decimated the locals. The beach is now on the mend as a tourist attraction, thanks to new accommodations and attractions sprouting up alongside Lampuuk’s gently-curving shoreline. Action-oriented beachgoers can ride on banana boats or go surfing, while nature-loving visitors can check out the local turtle conservation center. In the evenings, relax on the beach as you watch the sun set. (You’ll have to do without a beer on this one, though; consuming alcohol is illegal in Aceh.)

04 of 08

Parai Tenggiri Beach, Bangka-Belitung Islands

Parai Tenggiri Beach Bangka, Indonesia

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Pantai Parai Tenggiri, Sinar Baru, Sungai Liat, Bangka Regency, Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia
Phone +62 717 93888

Under management of the adjacent Parai Beach Resort, Parai Tenggiri is clean, scenic, and one of the few beaches on this list with lifeguards on duty! The small waves and gently sloping shore make Parai Tenggiri a great spot for water sports; you can book kayaks, parasails, and jet skis at the Parai Beach Resort to make the most of the local waters. If you prefer to stay onshore, climb atop one of the giant granite boulders scattered on the beach and enjoy the warm sea air. Alternatively, walk across the bridge that links the resort to a rocky islet, from which the best views of the nearby landscape can be seen. Note that there is a 25,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $1.75) entrance fee.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Banyak Islands, Aceh Singkil

Banyak Islands, Aceh, Indonesia

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Banyak Islands, Asantola, Pulau Banyak Barat, Aceh Singkil Regency, Aceh, Indonesia

The name of this 71-island archipelago, Kepulauan Banyak, literally means “many islands” in Indonesian. But you only need to keep a few of them in mind when planning your trip here.

Resort stays can be booked at Pulau Palambak and Pulau Sikandang. Likewise, the best-developed islands for tourism, Pulau Panjang and Pulau Palambak, are favorites for domestic and international visitors respectively; the others are perfect stops for boat-hopping tours around the archipelago. Pulau Rangit Kecil, for instance, has a lighthouse you can climb, Pulau Bangkaru is a haven for sea turtle hatchlings, and Pulau Malelo is a round sandbar with dazzling white sand.

06 of 08

Sorake Beach, Nias Island

Nias, Lagundri Bay, man surfing in the tropical Indian Ocean

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Sorake, Indonesia

The same hippies that discovered Bali’s surf breaks in the 1960s found Nias Island along the way. In the decades since, Sorake Bay on the southern tip of the island has developed into a world-class surfing spot, with surfers from all over converging here to take on the bay's left- and right-hand breaks. The waves here average about five meters in height, but may reach as high as 15 meters between May and September (fun fact: the waves here are so consistent in all seasons that the bay has earned the nickname "All-time Nias"). Lagundri and Sorake Beaches, which surround the bay, are especially popular in June and July thanks to the surf competitions that take place then.

07 of 08

Gandoriah Beach, Pariaman City

Gandoriah Beach, Pariaman

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Gandoriah Beach, West Sumatra, Indonesia

This scenic beach off Pariaman City is a great place to catch the local color. Situated next to the train station and the Pariaman Market, Gandoriah Beach features a promenade where visitors can people watch, take in the sea views and sunsets, and eat local foods like nasi sek and sate Padang. On weekends, locals come here to swim in the waters, play beach volleyball, or go surfing when the weather allows. North of the beach, a wharf serves as a boat connection to the six islands offshore.

The two monuments at the entrance, called tabuik, indicate the area’s cultural significance; copies of the towers are crafted from bamboo and carried to Gandoriah Beach, to be thrown into the waters during Muharram (the first month of the Islamic Year).

08 of 08

Bintan, Riau Islands

Bintan Island, Empty rope swing on tropical beach

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Bintan Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia

With its location on Singapore’s doorstep, Bintan gets so many visitors from the neighboring island-state, it almost feels like one of Singapore’s top beach stops instead of Indonesia’s.

For local color, visit Senggarang and Sebung fishing villages, known respectively for their Chinese temples and their cheap but delicious seafood, served in open-air “kelong” restaurants. Take a boat to Penyengat Island, once the epicenter of a Malay kingdom and still home to a gorgeous Sultan’s Palace and mosque. Then there’s Trikora Beach, Bintan’s most popular seaside real estate; located on the island’s eastern side, its crystal-clear water invites visitors from all over Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.  

Article Sources
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  1. Jakarta Post. "Indonesia invites China to invest in '10 new Bali'." January 24, 2018.

  2. "Indian Ocean tsunami: Emotional reunion in Aceh 10 years on." December 22, 2014.

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The Top 8 Beaches in Sumatra, Indonesia