Sungai Pinang is an isolated fishing village on the coast of western Sumatra; Indonesia’s most northerly island.
However, it is not a place that you might just happen upon by mistake, it’s incredibly secluded and the roads make it a challenge and pretty inaccessible. In fact, I would say it’s easier to get there by boat!
That being said it was our favourite place in Sumatra. The people were gracious and hospitable and welcomed us into their community.
Here are some reasons as to why you should visit Sungai Pinang!
Ever dreamed of a private beach
If you’ve ever wanted to stay on your own private beach then this is the location for you! There are a lot of perfect little resort style places tucked into private coves with amazing beaches in this area. Head over to booking.com to have a look. We stayed at Ricky’s Beach House which was fantastic; the food was great, the company was perfect and the staff were friendly and fun to be with.
See the cutest baby turtles ever
If you’ve already read my post about the cute baby turtles then you’ll know all about the Authentic Sumatra Turtle Project. If not I’ll quickly explain that local turtles and marine life are seriously at risk through over-fishing, plastic on the beaches and in the sea, disturbed nesting spots and a lack of care or understanding towards and about them.
The authentic Sumatra project was set up to provide education to locals and give foreigners a chance to volunteer there and learn about the community. It’s a worthwhile project to invest in and especially if you have kids, they’ll love this.
Visit the local schools
The villages of Sungai Pinang and Sungai Pisang both have schools and they’re very excited to welcome people in. We visited both schools and were incredibly humbled by the warm reception we received.
We turned up at one primary school with no invitation because we saw people there and they invited us in to meet the high school students who usually have to go to Padang for their schooling. High school students (for those who can afford it) will spend the week or term in Padang, away from their families and return to the village if or when the family can afford for them to return.
Have a go at wood carving
The village has its very own wood carver who you can sit with watch and learn from. He even lets you have a go at carving yourself.
In itself just making the wood is a long and intricate process which requires soaking coconut shell for a few days, gluing and clamping it before starting on the polishing process and finally carving and re-polishing etc. It takes considerable patience and skill to carve the necklaces, furniture and decorations like this.
We bought a birthday present here; a hand-carved turtle necklace which has come with us on our travels everywhere we’ve been since.
See what wildlife you can spot
From water buffalo and monitor lizards to turtles and fish, there is an abundance of wildlife to spot everywhere. We woke up every morning to the sounds of the water buffalo in the river behind our hut and the kids would stand on the bed to look out of the window and see lizards prowling for food. A tremendous sight before breakfast.
Take a boat over to Merak Island
I think this might be the most exquisite island I’ve ever visited in terms of white sand and turquoise clear waters. From here you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel and explore the 2km wide island. We saw an array of marine life and a number of turtles from about 20m off the beach.
Get you freak on with waterfall jumping
My crazy kids decided to jump the 10m into the waterfall from the Pinang River here. If you’re too scared to jump you could still go and have the entire waterfall to yourself.
Watch the local fishermen
The local fishermen lay nets off the beach by hand and then painstakingly spend hours pulling them back in. Even if you don’t agree with fishing or net fishing it is a technique that has been used for decades and is interesting to watch. Approximately six to eight men take part at one time, walking the nets backwards up the beach. It seems to take an eternity to haul them back in.
The area is great for snorkelling. Right in front of Ricky’s is a private beach where you can sunbathe, swim or snorkel.
Surf (in wave season)
According to our friend Kim who lives in Sungai Pinang there is a wave season lol. The biggest waves occur between August and October and although we didn’t see the waves, we saw photos and they’re at least 4-5 foot tall.
If the surf isn’t great here, you could always head over to see the Mentawi tribe and the islands.
Watch the sun setting over the hills
The area is surrounded by big hills and every night the sunset put on a show for us. We couldn’t believe how colourful it was.
Explore the rock pools at low tide
The rock pools sit between Ricky’s and the village and during low tide they’re a hide of activity where the star fish look more like octopus. They’re a deep shade of dark blue and have long spiky tentacles. They’re harmless and fascinating to watch.