Underwater at Pulau Weh


  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

I finally ironed under the surface, with delight, in the waters of Pulau Weh (Indonesia). The underwater fauna is dense and varied. The two short weeks of my stay here will not be enough to explore everything!

The Big Fancy Camera

A nice moray, who agreed to show me his teeth for the photo ... (Pulau Weh, Gapang Beach).
A nice moray, who agreed to show me his teeth for the photo ... (Pulau Weh, Gapang Beach, March 2010)

To begin with, pictures taken with my new toy: the Canon Eos 7D in the Ikelite waterproof case who's fine. See also:

→ Diving and photo: my equipment

→ 6 tips to make your underwater photos a success when you start

I only have a few that I can show, because I am still taming the monster, aka "The Big Fancy Camera", as Mike would say, an English instructor working here.


With an SLR camera in a large housing, everything changes underwater compared to my small compact camera: weight, viewfinder, lighting, focusing distance...

I got my new gear this morning, diving from the shore, in front of the beach of Lumba Lumba. I'm still having a hard time dosing the flash light correctly, but it's getting better, little by little.

My images are also a little yellow. I need to check the light temperature settings, I think. And I need to get better at post-processing too. I still have a lot of progress to make, but I'm learning by doing...

Nemo's daddy says hello! (Pulau Weh, Gapang Beach)

A mischievous fish-ball, who loves to pose ... (Pulau Weh, Gapang Beach).

A scorpion baby, all wings out (Pulau weh, Gapang Beach).

So much for the very first tryouts this Thursday. Happiness of the day: the meeting with a not very shy turtle, at the end of the dive, in front of the beach...


Small animals

Tomorrow, it's Friday, no diving in the morning, we follow the Muslim rhythm. But the dives can still start at 2 pm!

I'm going back to the house-reef, to continue to familiarize myself with my new box. And show me places where there are pretty sights, in the style fish toads (antennas) and harlequin ghost fish ...

Having said that, I have already photographed some harlequins on Wednesday, during our boat trip to Batee Tokong, then on the small wreck of Sabang, in shallow water, near the harbor... But with my small compact camera.

That day, it was for me the first time to put on fins after many months without bubbles. And then, as there is often a current on Batee Tokong, I preferred not to jump into the water right away with the big box for the 7D. Finally, we didn't have any current at all! I was able to photograph quietly, with my small camera, a lot of nice bugs, spotted by one of our Indonesian guides, Midi.

Small coral crabs photographed at Batee Tokong (Pulau Weh).

Leaf fish, photographed at Batee Tokong (Pulau Weh).

Harlequin ghost fish, photographed at Batee Tokong (Pulau Weh).


  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

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  1. Great... 🙄
    Tame, tame... But that's not bad enough with the SLR. You've got to enjoy it. Enjoy The Big Fancy Camera. Looking forward to seeing more 🙂

  2. Splendid photos! but, the first one, the wide open "mouth" that could swallow us whole in less time than it takes to click, is which underwater "bug"? ❓

    An ignorant "candid"...but admiring.

  3. It would be almost ... the happiness of the first dives and find the blue and fish ...
    Bravo for these first photos with the "Fat Man"... What pretty light... we're safe in the knowledge that your photo galleries will continue to leave us in awe...

  4. finally you took the plunge and put your camera in the can 😉 not a bad result, more than good even, I like your balloon fish, and I envy you for the harlequin ghost fish that I haven't seen on a dive yet and as I don't think there are any in the red sea I'll have to wait at least another 1 year to hope to come across one!!!!
    Continue flopped all the way, that we can share all that !!

  5. Oh là là, ça fait envie ! By the way, did you have any trouble at all with your new wheeled bag?
    A quick question: why do not you take your regulator in hand luggage?
    Trrrrrres beautiful photos with your new travel companion! NOT.

  6. Great debut! I love the moray eel in action, the curiosity of the balloon... bravo!!!!
    Like you, I'm finally going under the Indonesian surface again very soon... I'm leaving again tomorrow for Bali! ... with my old camera... but you'll end up making me want to!!!! 🙄

  7. @Alice: Thanks, miss! I must say I'm having a lot of fun with this new toy.

    @Lydie: It's a moray eel, very nice, very cooperative, it deigned to open its mouth three times for my camera, really nice... In fact, if you click on the image, it normally opens larger, with a caption above to accompany it.

    @Malene: Thank youiiiiiii!!! Yes, the light is much softer, more natural, with the 7D and the external flash, than with the little compact. But I still have to learn how to find the right angle for the flash. Every time I take a new shot, I have to readjust the arm, a bit by trial and error...

    @Laurence: What's new? No ornated ghost pipe-fish in the Red Sea? Well, don't worry, you'll come across one one of these days...

    @Cathy: Yes, she was very very cool with me, this moray eel. She started yawning just for my lens!!!!

    @Nani: No, there were no problems with the wheeled bag. On the contrary, I've saved myself a lot of sweat... If I put the regulator in the hold bag, instead of in the cabin bag as before, it's because my cabin bag already weighs more than 10 kg on its own, as it contains my two housings, the big flash, the two cameras, a macro lens, a computer, etc. etc. There's no room at all for the regulator. No room at all for the regulator. But with the configuration of this wheeled bag, it's well protected, if you place it in the middle of the suit.

    @Manta: Thanks Manta! Ah... changing your underwater camera is a new challenge. You have to relearn everything, change your habits, but what satisfaction when you see the results. The sharpness is infinitely better, the light different, the depth of field more controllable, etc. etc. It's an investment, but when you love it... In the meantime, I wish you a great stay and superb diving in Bali!!!!

  8. @ Jean-Loïc: You posted your comment just as I was replying to the others... So I'm adding my reply below. Thanks for the note, it really makes my day. But if you want to see the best in sub and macro photography, I invite you to visit Hélène Caillaud's site:
    I've still got a lot of room for improvement before I reach his level...

  9. I'm not used to corresponding via a blog but I have to agree that it's great. You're a better photographer than I thought you were when you told me about Fougères. Bravo, especially the open-mouthed self-portrait. I'm kidding, don't get angry. Bisou de la grisaille fougeraise.jl

  10. eh eh a glimmer of hope appears to me... poking around on the net I've just seen that there are harlequin ghost fish in the red sea! 🙂
    I'm going to look for them !!
    On what type of 'support' do you usually come across them, corals, gorgonians?

  11. @Laurence: Ah, still... it seemed odd to me that they weren't found in the Red Sea. They're often hidden in some kind of underwater "fern", comatula I think.

  12. @Laurence: Yes, they also like the tentacles of crinoids (comatulas, that is), but here I was thinking of fixed flora or fauna... In short, they like anything with "branches" in which to hide... 🙄

  13. Very impressive "your" first bug and therefore a moray eel that I would have gladly taken for a snake. Very nice pictures...
    I know you're more into diving than beaches, but can you tell me if there are any nice ones on Pulau Weh, if the water is clear and if there are any nice little excursions or walks to do on land? What's the weather like in February-March-April? I was thinking of this destination for "our" summer. Transfers, prices... from Bandah Aceh? What about your long-haul flight?
    Anyway, if you could give even more travel details outside the "underwater", well when you have time, of course, that would be great. Thanks in advance and enjoy, you lucky "off-season" girl.

  14. @Sarah: Thanks for the compliments... 🙂
    To answer your questions, Pulau Weh doesn't have "beautiful" beaches in the sense that most people understand, even though I find them magnificent. There's a lot of dead coral along the beach, so it's not always ideal for swimming. The water is clear depending on the weather: when it's windy and there are waves, visibility is very poor along the beach, and it's quite choppy. But I've heard that the snorkeling between Iboih beach and Rubiah Island is quite nice. I think the weather is rainier in January-March-April, but I didn't get a clear answer on that. The seasons are not really marked, it seems.
    Finally, you should know that the area is very "tradi" Muslim, so outside the two more touristy beaches of Gapang and Iboih, it's impossible for a woman to wear a swimsuit... As for walks, the main road is good and makes for nice little scooter tours. There must also be ways of organizing treks into the jungle, and I know there's a waterfall to see (but I haven't found the time to go there).
    Finally, as far as travel is concerned, it's very easy. My long-haul flight was with Emirates: Paris-Dubai-Kuala Lumpur (return at around €560). Then a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Banda Aceh with Air Asia (return at around €60 with my big baggage supplement).
    Be careful, you need the Indonesian visa in advance, there's no Visa on Arrival in Banda Aceh yet. Then, transport to the jetty with a detour into town to change money, I gave 90,000 Rp (or €7-8) to a guy who was offering his services, then the ferry to Pulau Weh offers three price categories: 45-55-85,000 Rp, if I remember correctly, then transport to one of the beaches costs 50,000 Rp... Generally, I avoid filling my travelogues with this kind of non-thrilling detail...
    I can only advise you to register on the forum Tashi Delekwhere Yann Senant, who made the trip with his family, and others, can also give you their impressions. Finally, you can read the page on Pulau Weh on the excellent website Transverse notebooks. There's plenty of practical information and a downloadable map of the island with its points of interest.
    Good preparations!

    @A World Elsewhere: Thanks Marie-Ange! I think it's my favorite too. I'm starting to make progress, little by little... I'll be delivering new sub photos very soon!