The first tourists to arrive in North Nias were long-distance sailors exploring the west coast of Sumatra. By word of mouth it became known in the sailing community that both Lahewa and Afulu harbours offers good and protected anchorage. Since Lahewa and Afulu were listed in the yachting bible 101 Anchorages within the Indonesian Archipelago the number of visiting sailing boats have steadily increased. Today many sailors cruising Indonesia prefer the west coast of Sumatra as the east coast and the Malacca Strait is becoming increasingly crowded. Most sailors visiting North Nias come with their own boat, but it is also sometimes possible to join a sailing charter boat as a guest.

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