Lighthouses of Indonesia: Northwestern 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. This page includes lighthouses of the west coast of North Sumatra Province.

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 Navigation.

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

General Sources
Indonesian Lighthouses
Historic postcard views from the collection of Michel Forand.
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 - Volume F and Volume Q
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Pulau Bojo Light
Pulau Bojo Light, Batu Islands, October 2008
photo copyright Dietrich Lange; used by permission

Batu Islands Lighthouses

South Nias Regency: Batu Islands Lighthouses
Note: The Batu (Stone) Islands are located in the Indian Ocean 50-200 km (30-125 mi) southwest of the North Sumatran coast. There are three principal islands: Tanahbala and Tanahmasa in the south, separated by a narrow channel, and Pini in the north. The Equator passes just to the south of Pini.
* Sigolong Golong
2017. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 5 s. 12 m (39 ft) round barbell-shaped white metal and fiberglass tower. Yason Waruwu's photo is at right but the tower is too new to appear in Bing's satellite view. Located on the waterfront at Sigolong Golong, a small port near the southeastern corner of Pulau Tanahbala, the southernmost of the major Batu Islands, about 200 km (125 mi) west northwest of Padang. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty Q0841.1.
Pulau Bojo (Bodjo, Boji)
1883. Active; focal plane 119 m (390 ft); white flash every 4 s. 60 m (197 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Adjoining keeper's houses are occupied by resident keepers. One of Dietrich Lange's photos is at the top of this page, and Google has a good satellite view. The purpose of this landfall light is to mark the passage between the Batu Islands and the island of Siberut, leading to the port of Padang. Located on an island just off the south tip of Pulau Tanahbala. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower open by arrangement with the keepers. ARLHS IDO-070; Admiralty Q0842; NGA 23192.
Pulau Sigata
1913. Active; focal plane 116 m (381 ft); four very quick white flashes every 3 s. 35 m (115 ft) cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. Several 1-story station buildings. No photo available, but Google's satellite view proves that the historic lighthouse survives. Located on a small island of the Batu group, northwest of Tanahmasa. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-076; Admiralty Q0838; NGA 23204.
Pulau Simuk
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); one long white flash every 10 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) square skeletal tower mounted on a station building. Several additional station buildings. No photo available but Bing has a good satellite view. Located at a small settlement on Pulau Simuk, an isolated island about 32 km (20 mi) west of Pulau Sigata. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty Q0838.4.

Sigolong Golong Light, Batu Islands, May 2017
Google Plus photo by Yason Waruwu
* Pulau Tello (Pulotello, Pulau Hibao Tello)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. Edi Wilson has a sunrise photo but clouds hide the lighthouse in Bing's satellite view. Located on the main quay at Pulau Tello, near the northwestern end of the Batu Islands. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty Q0839.4; NGA 23208.
Pulau Marit
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. 15 m (49 ft) white fiberglass tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located off the east end of Pulau Marit, a small island off the northwestern tip of Tanahmasa. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1234; NGA 23202.
Tanjung Batubelobang (Pulau Pini)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 8 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view of the station. Pulau Pini is a substantial island, about 40 km (25 mi) long, at the northeast corner of the Batu group. Located at the western tip of the island. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-241; Admiralty F1235; NGA 23209.
Tanjung Simanusu
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available but Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the northeastern corner of Pulau Pini, guiding vessels in the passage between the Batu Islands and the mainland of Sumatra. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1235.5; NGA 23209.2.
Karang Ular
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. 15 m (49 ft) square white skeletal tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a reef about 8 km (5 mi) east of Tanjung Simanusu. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1237; NGA 23210.

Nias Island Lighthouses

Note: Nias is a large island (more than 5000 km2) about 140 km (88 mi) off the Sumatran coast and 80 km (50 mi) northwest of the Batu group. It has a substantial population, more than 750,000, although it does not attract many Western tourists. The island is accessible by air and by ferries from Sibolga on the mainland of North Sumatra.

South Nias Regency Lighthouses
Ujung Sumabawa
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); four white flashes every 17 s. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available and the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view of the cape. Located on a promontory about 35 km (22 mi) north of Dalam on the southeast coast of Nias. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1256; NGA 23245.5.
* Teluk Dalam
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); white flash every 3 s. Approx. 29 m (95 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. A photo is at right, Google has a street view, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the main quay of Teluk Dalam, a port and resort town at the southern tip of Nias. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1255.2; NGA 23236.
* Teluk Lagundri (Lagundi)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 12 m (39 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. Hans Jonathan has photo and Bing has a satellite view. Located just off the beach at Lagundri Beach near the southern tip of Nias. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1254.6.
Tanjung Soahebohu (Soahebeuheu)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); four white flashes every 18 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the southwestern tip of Nias. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1254.5; NGA 23239.

West Nias Regency Lighthouses
Pulau Hinaka (Hinako)
1912. Active; focal plane 54 m (177 ft); white flash every 5 s. 32 m (105 ft) square pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view of the station. This lighthouse guides vessels passing Nias to the west. The satellite view suggests that the original lighthouse survives. Located on a small island in the Indian Ocean about 10 km (6 mi) off the west coast of Nias. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-198; Admiralty F1254; NGA 23240.
Teluk Dalam Light
Teluk Dalam Light, Nias, January 2006
photo copyright ilman.only; used by permission
Tanjung Sirombu
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); four white flashes every 18 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. The cape is actually a tombolo: an island connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Located midway on the west coast of Nias. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty F1254.4; NGA 23244.2.

North Nias Regency Lighthouses
Tanjung Sebua
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); white flash every 4 s. 20 m (66 ft) tapered square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a promontory at the northwestern tip of Nias. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1253; NGA 23247.5.
Gosong Baohi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white flash every 5 s. 25 m (82 ft) cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Google has an indistinct satellite view. This lighthouse guides vessels to the port of Lahewa. Located on an island off the northwestern coast of Nias. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-129; Admiralty F1250; NGA 23260.
Pulau Sarangbaung
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 55 m (180 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. Approx. 50 m (164 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower. No photo available but Bing has an indistinct satellite view. NGA misspells the name as Sarangbuang. Located on a small island about 20 km (13 mi) north of the northern tip of Nias. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1259; NGA 23258.

Gunungsitoli City Lighthouses
Tanjung Mbaa
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 75 m (246 ft); white flash every 5 s. 21 m (69 ft) cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view that may show the lighthouse. The light guides vessels approaching Gunungsitoli, the administrative center of the island, on the northeast coast. Located on a promontory about 3 km (2 mi) north of Gunungsitoli. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-286; Admiralty F1248; NGA 23248.
* Gunungsitoli (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 13 m (43 ft); yellow (?) flash every 3 s. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) octagonal cylindrical white concrete tower. Andy Bona's photo is at right, Iduansyah Imran has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. NGA lists a "yellow beacon." Located on the waterfront of Gunungsitoli. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1248.2; NGA 23256.

Gunungsitoli Light, Nias, January 2006
Google Plus photo by Andy Bona

Nias Regency Lighthouses
Pulau Sumabawa
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 4 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available and the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view. Located on an island about 12 km (7.5 mi) off the east coast of Nias. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-260; Admiralty F1257; NGA 23246.
Pulau Bintanah
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view of the island. Located on an island in the center of the Mentawai Strait, midway between Nias and the Sumatra mainland. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-112; Admiralty F1262.3; NGA 23267.

Sumatra West Coast Lighthouses

Mandailing Natal Regency Lighthouses
Pulau Temang
Date unknown (station established 1913). Active; focal plane 65 m (213 ft); white light, 3 s on, 6 s off. 22 m (72 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. Several station buildings. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view of the station. Located at the west end of an island just off the mainland coast near Batahan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-252; Admiralty F1238; NGA 23220.
Pulau Labu (Pulau Sidakah)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 65 m (213 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located at the west end of an island just off the mainland coast about 45 km (28 mi) north of Batahan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-211; Admiralty F1244; NGA 23228.
Pulau Ilir
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 94 m (308 ft); white flash every 9 s. Approx. 35 m (115 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Several station buildings. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on a small island about 2 km (1.25 mi) offshore and 60 km (37 mi) south of Sibolga. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-200; Admiralty F1245; NGA 23271.

Central Tapanuli Regency (Sibolga Bay) Lighthouses
Pulau Labulabu Kecil (Labu Labu Kecil)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 57 m (187 ft); two white flashes every 7 s. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a small island on the west side of the southern entrance to the bay of Sibolga. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-152; Admiralty F1262.5; NGA 23269.
Pulau Mursala (Mansalar, Musala)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft ) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. NGA lists this light as "Pulau Mansalar." Mursala Island is best known for a waterfall that cascades directly into the sea. Located on a northwest end of the island, marking the northern entrance to the bay of Sibolga. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1265; NGA 23259.
Pulau Pocan Kecil (Pocan Ketak)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); three quick white flashes every 12 s. 12 m (39 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted black with one yellow horizontal band and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available but Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on the east side of an island in the middle of Sibolga Bay. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1263.2; NGA 23285.
* Teluk Sibolga
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 5 s. 12 m (39 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. Rahmad Loebiz has the photo at right, the light is at the left of Patpat Gulipat's photo of the waterfront, Google has a distant street view, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on the waterfront in the northern part of Sibolga. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1264; NGA 23288.
Ujung Karang (Gosong Ular)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 41 m (134 ft); three white flashes every 17 s. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. Four 1-story station buildings. No photo available but Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on a peninsula sheltering the west side of the bay of Sibolga. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-349; Admiralty F1263; NGA 23284.
Ujung Silabi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white light, 2 s on, 8 s off. 11 m (36 ft) white fiberglass tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located just off a promontory near the northern border of North Sumatra Province. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1266.3; NGA 23289.

Sibolga Light, Central Tapanuli, October 2017
Google Plus photo by Rahmad Loebiz

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Western Aceh | South: Southwestern Sumatra

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Posted April 13, 2006. Checked and revised October 25, 2018. Lighthouses: 31. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.