Sumatra lies across the equator and is the largest island that is entirely in Indonesia. To Sumatra’s southeast is the island of Java, separated by the Sunda Strait and to the northeast is Peninsula Malaysia, separated by the Strait of Malacca. Off the west coast of Sumatra is the Sunda Trench, the deepest trench in the Indian Ocean and also part of the Ring of Fire. It is because of this that Sumatra has had some of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the world.
Sumatra is a populous island, with 54.3m people making up about 21% of Indonesia’s entire population. Altogether, there are ten administrative provinces within Sumatra and its largest city is Medan. The island has a mountain range called Barisan Mountains with the highest peak being Mount Kerinci at 12,484ft (3,805m). A very popular tourist destination, Lake Toba, also lies along this mountain range towards the north. Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world and also the largest lake in Indonesia.
Sumatra is a treasure trove of endemic animal species like the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Elephant and Sumatran Orangutan. Tourists can see orangutans at Bukit Lawang which is located within Gunung Leuser National Park, a beautiful protected rainforest.
For lovers of the sun and sea, Sumatra has much to offer. Pulau Weh at the northern tip of the island offers spectacular scuba diving. The west coast of Sumatra is a popular surfing destination. Those who prefer resorts can head to Bintan Island in the Riau Archipelago, which is near Singapore.
Travel to Lake Toba for spectacular and unique sights. Visit protected nature reserves and conservation areas to see the orangutan or go surfing along the west coast of Sumatra. You can also trek to see live volcanoes like Mount Sibayak.
Fly to Kualanamu International Airport in Medan or to Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Banda Aceh via airlines like AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and local Indonesian airlines. From Banda Aceh airport it is 30 minutes by taxi to Ulee Lheue Jetty and then 45 minutes by speedboat to the island (or 1 hour 30 minutes using a slower public boat). Once on the island motorbike taxis are available.
To reach the Riau Archipelago for destinations like Bintan Island, take a ferry from Johor in Malaysia or from Singapore.