Snorkelling and Diving in North Nias
The clear, warm water and the abundance of tropical marine life make snorkelling in North Nias an amazing experience! Many good snorkelling spots can be found along the coast and are easy to get to, others require a boat trip. Boats can be arranged in any of the fishing villages along the coast. Snorkelling equipment can be bought in Gunung Sitoli, the island capital, but its best to bring your own gear to be on the safe side.
So where to go snorkelling in North Nias? Here is a short list of our favourite locations:
N 1.432973°, E 97.145968°
Tureloto is a place very popular with locals as it is easily accessed from nearby Lahewa. Its huge lagoon protects swimmers from waves and currents. But the best snorkelling can be found outside the lagoon where the water is clear and there is plenty of fish and colourful corals to see.
Enter the water anywhere in Torelotu and swim across the lagoon. The top of the reef is usually exposed and you can see a few channels where it’s possible to swim out of the lagoon. The outside reef facing the ocean is where there is most fish and colourful corals.
You can also hire a small boat at Torelotu that takes you to the outside reef.
N 1.51034°, E 97.42496°
Asi Walo is a small but very attractive beach on the east coast of North Nias. The location is easily accessible and there is a small beach café here catering for local tourists. The beach is inside a natural harbor making it a good, safe location for swimming and snorkelling. The reef has been damaged in places but there are still very interesting snorkelling areas just off the beach, especially out towards the edges of the small bay.
Asi Walo Beach is located in the north east corner of Nias Island, in Sawo sub-district. To get here just drive the main coastal road northwards from Tuhemberua to Teluk Bengkuang village. The turnoff is right next to a large church.
N 1.22191°, E 97.09294°
Wunga Island on the west coast of Nias has some spectacular reef sections and the water is very clear here. The best place for snorkelling is outside the entrance to the Lagoon. Enter the water from the beach on either side or from a boat. Swim out to the middle of the channel towards the outside, where it’s between 2-4 meters deep. Beginners can stay further into the lagoon where its shallower, while experienced swimmers may venture further out.
Another good snorkelling spot can be reached by boat c. 2 kilometers south of the lagoon entrance on the east side of the Island. Look for a small rock protruding out of the water just off the shore (N 1.20485°, E 97.10357°).
Wunga Island can be reached by boat from Afulu. The trip takes about 1.5 hours with a local boat.
Gosong Uma Islands
N 1.46217°, E 97.20261°
Gosong Uma Islands were created during the 2005 earthquake when there was a 2 meter uplifting of the land in this area. It’s basically an uplifted coral reef where low bushes have started to grow. Some areas have been damaged but there are several good sections here:
- Anchor in front of the small gravel beach on the (inside) southern side of the smaller island. Swim out 50 meters and then head westwards toward the light beacon. The eastern side of the channel between the two islands has very nice corals.
- On the northern side of the smaller island snorkel 100-200 meters out from the island near the corner to the channel and then follow the reef towards the channel.
- Go to the South west point of the large island. Stop just inside (south) of the edge. At this location there is a very healthy section of cabbage corals.
To get to Gosong Uma take a boat from Lahewa or Lafau village. The trip usually takes 30-40 minutes.
Also look at our map of good snorkel spots in North Nias in the top rigth corner of this page.
There are some areas along the coast that are not suitable for snorkelling; along the west coast the huge surf can make snorkelling difficult. In other places the reef has been damaged by boat-anchors and illegal bomb-fishing.
Scuba diving looks very promising in many places, but currently there are no diving centres operating in North Nias. Places like Tureloto and Asi Walo would be ideal for learner divers as they provide a safe, protected environment. Currently the only diving centre on Nias Island is Puri Asu Resort on Asu Island, which can be reached by boat from Afulu or Sirombu (West Nias Regency).
Potential scuba diving sites include all the above places as well as:
N 1.44613°, E 97.13015°
Idane Nasi is a reef breaking the surface in the ocean north west of Tureloto. There is also a small unmanned light house on this reef. The top is shallow and often bashed by waves. The interesting part for scuba divers is the west end where the reef drops off sharply down to 18-30 meters. Along the wall/slope the corals are in good shape.
This reef can be reached in 10 minutes from Toreloto.
N 1.42974°, E 97.22067°
This underwater reef can be found between Pulau Lafau and Pulau Makora on the north coast of Nias. The reef is clearly visible from the surface, some 300 meters across. The top reef is 2-5 meters deep and has been damaged by anchoring boats. But along the side, where it drops off to 10-20 meters the reef is very healthy and there is a lot of fish. The west and north section is in particular good condition. A dive could start on the western side and circumnavigate the reef.
This reef can be reached by boat from Lafau in 15-20 minutes.
To learn more about freediving and snorkeling around Nias look here.