Beware of currents and rip tides. Sumatra doesn't have the same
dangerous currents as along the south coast of Java though. Be
careful with open wounds especially from coral reefs. They heal slow
and get easily infected due to the tropical climate and the mobile
lifestyle a tourist keeps. Clean and disinfect. Betadine is
recommended for your medicine kit.
In the oceans are many sharks, but the most dangerous ones, for
example the Great White shark, prefers a bit cooler water. It is
extremely rare in Indonesian waters. Common reef sharks are not
considered dangerous. Sharks that feel threatened can attack. Always
stay calm and leave the area. The barracuda is less dangerous than
the shark, but can be attracted by flashy jewelry and speared fish.
The Indonesian barracudas are not aggressive as their relatives in
the Atlantic though. Sea snakes are the most poisonous of all
snakes, but not aggressive. Their teeth are very short and placed
far in and can only bite small objects. The saltwater crocodile is
an aggressive creature. They live normally in murky estuaries and
not at coral reefs and moving waters. Crocodiles are extinct in most
rivers or afraid of humans, however common in the Alas River near
Singkil. Crocodiles are probably the most dangerous animals in
Indonesia, with the exception of the mosquito, when looking at
Stingrays and scorpion fish should be taken seriously. The stingrays
often hide in sandy areas near the shore. They normally flee when a
human is coming, but sting if they are suddenly stepped upon. Using
flip-flops doesn’t protect. The sting is rarely fatal for an adult,
but causes much pain and fever. Get the victim to the beach and
remove any spine still left. Wash and slightly bleed the punctured
area. Immerse the wound in hot water, up to 50 degrees or put on hot
compresses. See a doctor. If you are too far from a doctor, consult
a local healer. They are often experienced with these kinds of
problems. Scorpion fish and Stonefish are poisonous and camouflage
themselves. The stonefish can be deadly. Sea Urchins, especially the
black ones, are better avoided. Be careful when you walk over the
reef. They can be painful to step on. The spines can be dissolved by
urine. Jellyfish are not a problem in Indonesia.
Diving is best on Pulau Weh. Also the snorkeling is fantastic there,
but there is also snorkeling in Pulau Banyak. Diving has not yet
been developed in Pulau Banyak.
Going down a river on a tube, so called tubing, can be a lot of fun.
I can also be dangerous, especially in the rainy season. The
American Canoe Association has issued safety recommendations. In
short: Never go tubing alone. Use a guide with swift water license
if available and if you prefer. Don’t tube when the river is
flooded. Look out for strainers in the water, for example fallen
trees, bridge pilings, etc. Avoid dams, ledgers, etc. Don’t use
drugs or alcohol before tubing. Consider using a lifejacket and
There several organizers of rafting and there are several rivers
suitable for it. The most well-known and convenient is Bukit Lawang,
but Ketambe and Asahan are also interesting alternatives. Most
rafting is done on Sungai Wampu.
Also kayaking is available; in rivers, on Lake Toba and on the sea
in Pulau Banyak.