Lighthouses of Indonesia: Western Aceh, Sumatra

Indonesia has been independent since 1945 after having been the Dutch East Indies for more than 350 years. It is a huge country, stretching along both sides of the Equator for more than 46 degrees of longitude (roughly 5100 km or 3200 miles). Comprised of some 17,000 islands (more than 6000 inhabited islands), it has hundreds of major aids to navigation. Unfortunately, it's difficult to know how many of these aids can be considered lighthouses. Information about them is scarce, and photos are even scarcer. Official light lists contain dozens of entries for "framework towers" and "white beacons," providing little guidance for the lighthouse fan.

Sumatra (or, as Indonesians prefer, Sumatera) is the world's sixth largest island and the westernmost of the major islands of Indonesia. It is separated from Malaysia to the north by the Malacca Strait, from Borneo to the northeast by the broad Karimata Strait, and from Java to the southeast by the Sunda Strait. Its south coast faces the open Indian Ocean.

Located at the northwestern end of Sumatra, Aceh was the scene of a lengthy and sometimes violent separatist movement, first against Dutch control and then against Indonesian administration. Following the disastrous tsunami of 26 December 2004 a peace agreement, negotiated with the help of Finnish diplomats, was signed in August 2005. Aceh is governed not as a province of Indonesia but as a "special territory" enjoying a considerable degree of autonomy. The capital is Banda Aceh, and the territory has a population of roughly four million.This page includes lighthouses of the western half of the territory, facing the open Indian Ocean. There's another page for Eastern Aceh.

This page is probably not complete. Listed here are towers at locations known to be historic Dutch light stations, plus some additional sites at which there is some evidence for a lighthouse. Added to this is an appeal for more information and photos; if you know about lighthouses in Indonesia, please share that knowledge.

The Indonesian word for a lighthouse is mercusuar. The phrase menara suar, which includes the Arabic word menara, is sometimes used instead. Tanjung and ujung are words for capes, pulau is an island, selat is a strait, and teluk is a harbor.

Aids to navigation in Indonesia are operated and maintained by the Directorate General of Sea Transportation.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Lighthouses in Indonesia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia; most of the photos are historic.
World of Lighthouses - Indonesia
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Online List of Lights - Indonesia
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
GPSNavigationCharts
Navigation chart information for Aceh.
Brueh Light
Breueh Light, Aceh Besar, 2013
Ministry of Culture and Education photo

West Coast (Indian Ocean) Lighthouses

Aceh Singkil Regency Lighthouses
* Singkil (Singkel) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1912). Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 6 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. Delimawati Zalukhu has a distant photo, and Google has a satellite view. A 1917 coast pilot lists the original light with a focal plane of 21 m (69 ft). Located near the waterfront of Pasar Singkel in the extreme southern end of Aceh. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS IDO-279; Admiralty F1267; NGA 23292.
Karang Rumambi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); two red flashes every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located at the endo of a shoal about 8 km (5 mi) southwest of Singkel. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1267.5; NGA 23291.
Pulau Bagu (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); four white flashes every 18 s. Approx. 40 m (131 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. The earlier light here had a focal plane of 32 m (105 ft). Located in the Banyak Islands, a group of islands between the mainland and the larger island of Simeulue, about 50 km (30 mi) west of Singkil. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1271.5; NGA 23295.
Pulau Sarangalu (Sarang Uln)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 5 s. 40 m (131 ft) tapered square skeletal tower painted white. Four 1-story station buildings. No photo available but Bing has a good satellite view of the station. Located on a small island at the south end of the Banyak Islands. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1273; NGA 23304.

Simeulue Regency Lighthouses
Note: Simeulue is a large island about 130 km (80 mi) off the coast of West Aceh. The island was near the epicenter of the great earthquake of 26 December 2004 and suffered another major earthquake several months later. The two earthquakes tilted the entire island, raising the west coast by about 2 meters and dropping the east coast a similar amount. The island has a population of about 85,000.
* Teluk Sinabang
2014. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 5 s. 18 m (59 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted white. Suhra Ilyas's evening photo is at right, Wan Zulkarnain Barus has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Teluk Sinabang is a magnificent natural harbor on the southeastern coast of Simeulue. Located at the base of the main pier at Sinabang. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1273.7.
Ujung Babang
Date unknown (2008?). Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 3 s. 25 m (82 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located on heights at the east side of the entrance to the harbor of Sinabang. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1274.5; NGA 23308.
Pulau Babi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 27 m (89 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available. The tower has not been found in Bing's satellite view (it may be hidden by clouds). Babi is a small island about 50 km (30 mi) southeast of Pulau Simeulue. Located on the west side of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1273.5; NGA 23305.
Pulau Tepak (Pulau Tapah)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 100 m (328 ft); white flash every 9 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available but Google has an indistinct satellite view. This light has a range of 33 km (20 mi). Located on the summit of a high island off the southwest coast of Simeulue. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1281; NGA 23306.
Pulau Simeulue Cut
2006. Active; focal plane 90 m (295 ft); two white flashes every 12 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available and the tower has not been located in Bing's satellite view. Listed by NGA as "Pulau Simeuloe," this light has a range of 33 km (20 mi). Located on the summit of an uninhabited high island off the central west coast of Simeulue. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1280; NGA 23307.
Pulau Salaut Besar
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. Approx. 40 m (131 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This is a coast guard station with numerous buildings. Located on a small island about 40 km (25 mi) northwest of the northern tip of Simeulue. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1279; NGA 23318.

Teluk Sinabang Light, Simeulue, April 2018
Google Plus photo by Suhra Ilyas
Tinggi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 3 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse guides vessels approaching Simeulue Barat (North Simeulue), a port on the northeast coast of Simeulue. Located on a small island about 4 km (2.5 mi) off the coast of Simeulue. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-341; Admiralty F1278; NGA 23310.
Pulau Siumat
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 6 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Siumat is a small island about 16 km (10 mi) off the central east coast of Simeulue. Located at the east end of the island. Site status unknown. Accessible only by boat. Admiralty F1276; NGA 23311.

Aceh Selatan (South Aceh) Regency Lighthouses
* Tapaktuan Port
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 30 m (98 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery painted white. A photo is available but the tower has not been found in Google's satellite view of the town. Located in Tapaktuan, the capital of South Aceh Regency. Site appears open, tower closed. Admiralty F1283.5.
Ujung Kupiah (Tapaktuan) (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 56 m (184 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted white. Rawoh Nanggroe has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a promontory on the southwest side of Tapaktuan. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1284; NGA 23320.
Labuhon Haji Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 14 m (46 ft); light characteristic unknown. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. The light is on the left in the photo at right, and Bing has a satellite view. Located offshore at Labuhan Haji. Accessible only by boat, but easily seen from shore. Site open, tower closed.
Labuhon Haji Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 20 m (66 ft); light characteristic unknown. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. The light is on the right in the photo at right, and Bing has a satellite view. Located offshore at Labuhan Haji. Accessible only by boat, but easily seen from shore. Site open, tower closed.

Aceh Barat (West Aceh) Regency Lighthouses
Susoh
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located off a sand spit at Susoh in Southwest Aceh Regency. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1290; NGA 23324.

Labuhon Haji Range Lights, South Aceh, March 2010
Aceh Department of Marine and Fisheries photo
Ujung Raya (Ujung Raja)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a remote, rounded headland in Nagan Raya regency. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1289; NGA 23326.
Ujung Kareueng (2?)
Date unknown (2005?). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white light, 2 s on, 6 s off. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. This area was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, and the original lighthouse must have been destroyed. Located on a promontory at Muelaboh, the capital of West Aceh Regency. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-350; Admiralty F1292; NGA 23328.
* Teluk Muelaboh
2014. Active; focal plane 30 m (98 ft); white flash every 3 s. 26 m (85 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. Zul Irfan Ivan Gondrong's view from the sea is at right, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the base of a pier at Muelaboh. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1291.7.

Aceh Jaya Regency Lighthouses
Krueng Teunom
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 34 m (111 ft); red flash every 7.5 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the Teunom River entrance northwest of Suak Uleue and about 50 km (30 mi) northwest of Muelaboh. (The river entrance is blocked by a bar, so this must be a coastal light rather than a harbor light.) Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-149; Admiralty F1292.2; NGA 23328.5.
Ujung Baro
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the tower is too new to appear in Bing's satellite view. Located on a tombolo (island) just off a promontory near Alue Titi. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-347; Admiralty F1292.35; NGA 23329.5.
Pulau Rangas
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 50 m (164 ft); white flash every 5 s. NGA provides no description of this light; Google's satellite view reveals what is probably a round white fiberglass tower at least 15 m (49 ft) tall. No photo available. Located on a small island about 3 km (1.75 mi) southwest of Ujung Baro. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-261; Admiralty F1292.3; NGA 23329.

Teluk Muelaboh Light, Muelaboh, October 2016
Google Plus photo by Zul Irfan Ivan Gondrong
Pulau Raya
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 72 m (236 ft); two quick white flashes every 5 s. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) round white fiberglass tower with gallery. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located at the northwest corner of Pulau Raya, a triangular island just off the coast near Sampoiniet. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1292.5; NGA 23330.
Ujung Tangkura
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); three quick white flashes every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located on a prominent cape north of Jaya. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1292.7; NGA 23331.

North Coast Lighthouses

Western Aceh Besar (North Aceh) Regency Lighthouses
Note: Banda Aceh is the capital of the Aceh region. Built on low ground, the city was devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Largely rebuilt, the city has a population of more than 350,000.
Pulau Rusa
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 119 m (390 ft); white flash every 3 s. 10 m (33 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island off a promontory about 15 km (9 mi) south of Leupung on the west coast of Aceh Besar. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1293; NGA 22296.
Pulau Benggala
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) "white beacon," probably a round white fiberglass tower. No photo aailable, and the tower is barely visible in Bing's satellite view of the island. Accessible only boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1301; NGA 22234.
** Breueh (Pulau Brueh, Pulau Bras, Willemstoren)
1875. Active; focal plane 160 m (525 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 44 m (144 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted red with one very broad white horizontal band. 5th order clamshell Fresnel lens (last photo on the page) in use. This is a staffed station. A photo is at the top of this page, Akhir Syahputra has a fine 2016 photo, Irhamuddin Guna has a 2013 closeup, Wikimedia has three historic photos from the collection of the Amsterdam Tropenmuseum, and Google has a satellite view. This light marks the extreme northwestern corner of Indonesia, the island of Brueh off the northwestern end of Sumatra. Breueh was devastated by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, but this lighthouse was far above the waves. Some of its support buildings were destroyed by the earthquake, however. Located at the northern tip of Brueh, about 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Banda Aceh. There are ecotours to the island, and the light station is accessible by road; it's a walk of 4 km (2.5 mi) from the nearest fishing village. Site open, tours by the lighthouse staff of the station and tower can be arranged. ARLHS IDO-051; Admiralty F1302; NGA 22236.
Pulau Bunta (Ujung Mane)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 90 m (295 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. Approx. 40 m (131 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white, mounted atop a square 1-story equipment building. The lantern has been removed. SEveral 1-story station buildings. A 2013 photo is at right, Aiyub Muchtar also has a 2013 photo (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view of the light station. This light marks the beginning of the approach to Banda Aceh from the Indian Ocean. Pulau Bunta is an island off the extreme northwestern tip of Sumatra. Located at the western tip of the island, about 25 km (15 mi) west of Banda Aceh. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1295; NGA 22238.
Pulau Dedap (Pulau Deudab, Ujung Umpee)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 4 s. 10 m (33 ft) barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. Qu Syairy has a view from the sea, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a small "island," really a peninsula, at the southeastern tip of Pulau Nasi, an island about 15 km (9 mi) west of Banda Aceh. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1296; NGA 22273.
#Ulee Lheue (Banda Aceh) (?)
Date unknown. Status unknown. Approx.18 m (59 ft) square concrete pylon, unpainted. Apparenty this beacon originally had a lantern, but no pre-tsunami photos have been found. The tsunami swept entirely over the tower, creating a lasting symbol of its fury. A closeup photo of the result is available, and the U.S. Geological Survey has a photo describing the pylon as a "lighthouse tower." The tower has disappeared from Google's satellite view. Located on a low island sheltering Ulee Lheue, the harbor district of Banda Aceh. Accessible only by boat. Site open.

Pulau Bunta Light, Aceh Besar, 2013
Aceh Tourism Agency photo
 

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Eastern Aceh | South: Northwestern Sumatra

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Posted April 13, 2006. Checked and revised October 18, 2018. Lighthouses: 31. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.