We describe the successful creation of new reef habitat on Pulau Weh, Indonesia. Coral cover on artificial reef modules increased from a mean of 24±SE 2.4% 1 year after the initial attachment of Acropora spp. coral fragments to 64±SE 4.8% after 3 years. The artificial reef modules were also rapidly colonized by coral recruits. Recruit densities were 53±SE 3.2 m−2 on modules that had been submerged for only 1 year, nearly twice as high as recruit densities on natural reef substratum (31±2.8 m−2). Consequently, the original Acropora assemblage had increased to include at least 23 coral taxa, including 10 additional Acropora species. The artificial reefs also supported at least 29 reef fish species, from 11 families. Unfortunately, this initial success in habitat creation was abruptly halted by a rapid rise in sea temperature in May 2010 that killed almost all corals on the artificial reefs and on nearby natural reefs. Notwithstanding the general view that reef rehabilitation is yet to deliver ecological and conservation benefits at meaningful scales, other benefits of this project included raising the awareness of reef conservation in the local community, promotion of tourism on Pulau Weh and job creation. We conclude, therefore, that habitat creation has a legitimate role as part of an integrated marine conservation strategy.