Pulau Weh is an island in the Sea of India off the northern tip of Sumatra. We chose Kabang Beach to stay. That’s just a beach, not a village, and it looks exactly like a beach on a tropical island is supposed to look like: green warm water, a crescent of white sand lined by palm trees, and a few huts with restaurants in front of a hill behind the beach. Perfect. Primitive beach huts are available but we chose the Lumba Lumba dive center, which has a number of stylish, spacious, and comfortable bungalows set back from the beach. The dive center is run by a very helpful and friendly Dutch couple.

The atmosphere was somewhat infectious, so we asked for diving instructions. They had a slot right away, so in the early afternoon we found ourselves kitted out with a wet suit, weights, tank, BCD (buoyancy control device), regulator (the mouthpiece), flippers, and masks, after a 40-minute intro movie and a short diving lesson. They have a liability release form too.

We first practiced the Four Skills in shallow water: breathing under water (NEVER hold your breath or your lungs explode), clearing regulators, recovering a lost regulator, and clearing masks. Also equalizing, which balances air pressure in your ears to keep them from exploding. We then went diving in a reef not far from the beach, ten meters down, and practiced diving maneuvers, and watched fish and corals, including a gorgeous lion fish. The stingray was hiding. We later looked them up in a book. Diving is fantastic, we are trying to get another slot on their schedule.