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Sumbawa is one of the 13,000 plus islands in the Indonesian archipelago. It's a large island to the east of Bali and Lombok. Sumbawa, along with Lombok, is part of West Nusa Tenggara. There are hundreds of small islands in this area in addition to the two major islands.

Sumbawa is known to some tourists for its great waves and sandy white beaches. Due to the somewhat trying process of getting there and the scarcity of cheap tourist facilities, the island is not visited much by non-surfing tourists which is unfortunate as parts of the island are quite beautiful.


Sumbawa is a rugged island with an indented coastline that feature a number of peninsulas, spectacular bays and numerous off-shore islands.

There are two main languages. In the west people speak Bahasa Sumbawa (Samawa) and in the east people speak Bahasa Bima (Mbojo)


  • Sumbawa Besar, the capital, is on the western side of the island. It is a really pleasant, compact little city with a vibrant, centrally located market. There are many street-food vendors so gastronomes are well looked after. The former Sultan's palace has been restored and is well worth a visit.

On Jalan Hassanudin at number 47 is Cipta Sari Bakery. This is a great place for snacks both sweet and savoury. Eric and Leah are lovely people who welcome travellers and are good sources of information. Badas port, about 6km west of the city, is a fascinating place if you like ships. You can see manual loading of corn into bulk freighters which transport it to Surabaya. It's tough work raking out the corn trucks. The workers are very friendly guys. Sumbawa Besar is a clean town. People are very friendly. There are some good day trips in the area. At Semongkat there is a swimming pool built by the Dutch. There is good coastal scenery at Tanjung Menanggis and the beach at Aik Lemak is so tranquil. There are a couple of cool coffee lounges in Sumbawa Besar. Oases is just off Jalan Kamboja and Kedai Chit Chat is not far from Hotel Tambora. Funky decor and great music. There is a fine Chinese-Indonesian restaurant on Jln Hasannudin. Aneka Rasa Jaya has been around for years, has a huge menu and serves beer.

  • Bima is on the eastern side of the island.
  • Dompu is on the eastern side of the island.
  • Poto Tano is the tiny, north-western port to catch the ferry to the neighbouring island of Lombok
  • Sape is a small port at the eastern end of the island. A daily ferry to Labuhanbajo in Flores leaves from Sape. The trip takes 7-8 hours. In the dry season (May-Oct) there are often two ferries per day.

There is also a twice weekly ferry from Sape to Waikelo on Sumba

Other destinations[edit]

  • Sekongkang - the surfing spots of Yoyo. Beautiful beach. A couple of good places to eat and stay.
  • Benete
  • Maluk- Supersucks surfing spot is located here. Fabulous beach. Small town. Lots of good food.
  • Mount Tambora - a mighty volcano which is remote, rarely visited and even more rarely climbed.
  • Moyo - national marine park with superb diving and home to a remarkable Aman resort.
  • Tropic Beach - White sand beaches, beautiful coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, hidden paradise on east Sumbawa island.
  • Taliwang - Vibrant capital of the West Sumbawa Regency.
  • Jelanga Bay - for surfing on Scar Reef.
  • Bungin - most densely populated island/coral reef in the World.
  • Wadu Pa'a - perhaps the most easterly reach of Buddhism in Indonesia.
  • Lunyuk - South coast town reached either by a fabulous drive from Sumbawa Besar or, an even better ride, from Sekongkan. You will need a motorbike for that though. The scenery on both roads is simply superb.
  • Lesehan Teluk Santong. An eatery on the main road about 90 minutes east of Sumbawa Besar. Best ikan bakar, idyllic setting by the sea.
  • Tepal- Deep in the mountainous hinterland south west of Sumbawa Besar. Reachable by 4WD or motorbike only. Route is Semongkat, Batu Dulang by asphalt, then unmade road to Tepal. Journey from Sumbawa Besar takes about 4 hours.


Sumbawa really belongs more to Eastern Indonesia than to to the West. The effects of Hindu and Buddhist cultures are minimal in Sumbawa; the majority of the population are Muslims.

During the dry season (April to November) a lot of dust is blown up and around. Strong winds blow in off the ocean, and the lush green hills, mountains and valleys turn a dusty brown. When the rainy season begins an amazing transformation takes place and the island becomes a lush jungle once again. Because of dryness, Sumbawa is frequented with crop failures, and even more so than Lombok, is subject to extreme poverty and starvation is not uncommon, robberies due to extreme desperation do occur. In October 2012, 20 children died in a single month on Sumbawa from malnutrition.

As most of the island is still developing, there is a very rural feel to just about everything, including Sumbawa Besar, the capital of the western side of the island. The mining company, Newmont, has a gold and copper mine down in the southwestern corner of the island around the villages of Sekongkang, Maluk and Benete. Their presence has speeded up the development process in this side of the island, though the vast majority are in abject poverty and claims of environmental destruction have been made against the company, which has had to suspend operations due to mass rioting.

Bahasa Indonesia is spoken widely in Sumbawa.

Get in[edit]

Sumbawa is considered somewhat remote even by Indonesian standards, and an overland-and-sea journey from Bali takes 15 hours beginning in Singaraja, Bali, and ending up in Poto Tano, the port on the western side of Sumbawa.

For many years now the Government operated ASDP (Angkatan Sungai Danau Penyeberangan) has operated a ferry service from Labuhan Kayangan (also known as Labuhan Lombok) in east Lombok to Poto Tano. The crossing takes 90 -120 minutes depending on queue time. Ferries run 24/7 but are sometimes cancelled due to rough seas during the monsoon (roughly Nov/Dec to April/May) The fare for rider and motorcycle (below 250cc) is IDR 55,000.

By plane[edit]

Only the cities of Sumbawa Besar on the western side of the island and Bima on the eastern side of the island have regular air service. The easiest way to get a mid to late morning flight from Bali and Lombok Wings Air, the subsidiary of Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia, and Transnusa fly to both cities from Denpasar (Bali) and Lombok on Western-made ATR-72 or Fokker 50 turboprops. It used to have Susi Air fly from Bima to Labuanbajo continue to Waingapu once a week in 2015. Sekongkan also has an airport, but flights have been stopped for an indefinite period after a small airline called Tropical Air ceased operating. Travira Air seaplane is available to charter from Bali directly to Moyo. Garuda Airlines is also a good choice as there are no extra luggage and surfboard charges One way tickets from Garuda also cost around Rp500,000 one way.

Once you arrive to Lombok airport, you can walk outside and negotiate a taxi fare to get to Labuhan Port (or Kayangan Port). You should not have to pay more than Rp300,000 per car. If you have a surfboard with you, remember to bring your own rope or roof ties as the drivers most likely won't have any. Journey time should be around 1.5 to 2 hours max depending on traffic.

By ferry[edit]

To get to Sumbawa from Bali most people take the ferry from Padang Bai, Bali to Lembar, Lombok (4-5 hours), travel overland to the eastern seaport in Lombok (Labuhan Lombok) and then take another ferry (1.5 hours) to Sumbawa, ending up in Poto Tano. Passengers Rp 22,000, motorcycles Rp 55,000 and Rp 352,000 for a car. From Poto Tano to Sumbawa Besar is 3 hours drive. From Sumbawa Besar to Bima is around 8 hours and another 1.5 hours to Sape.

By Land and Ferry Bus ticket from Mataram(Lombok) Manalika Bus terminal to Bima costs 150 k as for Dec 2018. That is the price paid to the driver including ferry fee and a dinner. New air conditioned bus leaves for Bima every day at 3 pm. Local "agent" (relatively young guy Shu Rukh Khan face type) even if you avoid him and dont go to his office will get on the bus and try to rip you off by adding 50 to 100 comission. Ignore him. Pay only 150k directly to the driver even if the "agent" says it is "his bus" and you cannot ride if you dont pay the fee. Just wait him out untill he leaves the bus (the bus is scheduled to leave Mataram at 3 pm so he cannot hold it for long). The "agent" is so astute he gets on the shuttle bus from the ferry to Manalika bus terminal to lay his hands on on any foreigner coming in. Just a parasite doing nothing but speaking few nice English words and writing a bill for you. Another bus leaves around 4 pm. It is said it is smaller, has no ac and reaches Lebuhan Lombok terminal only. It may be a better deal money wise.

In the other directions, ferries from Labuanbajo, Flores travel to Sape.The slow ferry is daily (takes approximately 7 hours) and the fast boat is three times a week. The fast boat also goes to Sumba twice a week. Call Kapal Cepat Express Bahari 0823 592 87 257 in Sape, 0822 373 68 767 in LB or 0812 3743 6447 in Waikelo (Sumba).

There are Pelni ships stop in Bima: KM Binaiya, KM. Sirimau, KM. Wilis, and KM. Tilongkabila to Labuanbajo, Makassar, Lombok, or Bali. The schedule can be found in its website.

You can also take a slow ferry to Poto Tano or a fast boat to Benete Port. The slow ferry is pretty cheap, costing around Rp17,000 per person (including luggage). It takes around 2 hours and runs 24 hours a day at every hour. The only exception is when there's any bad weather or a Muslim holiday going on. Getting from Poto Tano to your reesort should be easy as there are a few taxies parked outside. You should not have to pay more than Rp400,000 per car.

The fast boat from Kayangan Port in Lombok to Benete Port takes around 1.5 hours. The boat only runs from Lombok to Sumbawa twice a day (everyday except Friday) and departs at 10AM or 5PM. It only departs once on Friday at 10AM. Coming back to Lombok from Benete Port with a fast boat takes the same time but the boat departs at 8AM and 3:30PM everyday except Friday. On Friday, it departs at 5PM only. Please note that getting a cab at Benete Port may be tricky as the port is a lot quieter compared to Port Toto. The average transporation rate should be Rp200,000 per car.

Get around[edit]

Seamless transport across Sumbawa is problematic, and it may be best to book ferries and buses as combined tickets from either Lombok or Flores if you are trying to cross the island as fast as possible. There aren't local long distance buses for the whole trip or tourist oriented door-to-door transport as offered in Java, Bali and Lombok.

However, transport within Sumbawa is quite possible and easy using local buses and bemos (small vans). Most places of interest and major cities have bus terminals served by plenty of bemos and motorbike taxis. Locals will help direct you to the correct bus. These are local buses without air-con and will stop often to drop and pick-up passengers. However, roads are generally smooth and traffic is light.

Buses leave Sape at 5:00 AM headed towards Bima, then on to Dompu. Travel time takes approximately 4-5 hours to Dompu. Transfer buses at Dompu towards Sumbawa Besar, with another 5-6 hour bus ride. Total cost from Sape to Sumbawa Besar is no more than 90,000-100,000 Rupiah.

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Ikan Bakar (barbequed fish) at the sole warung located at Telok Santong on the road between Sumbawa Besar and Bima.

In Maluk the Ikan Bakar at Warung Cotok Lamongan is equally good. Choose your own fish from the cool case, sit and have a drink and 15 minutes later you'll be in seventh heaven!

In Taliwang try Ayam Taliwang, a dish now famous in other parts of Indonesia but beware - it's pedas! (spicy)

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Rantung Beach Hotel, Jalan Lingkar Selatan Sekongkang Sekongkang Bawah, Kab. Sumbawa Barat Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB), +62 878 6197-5666, [1]. Rantung Beach Hotel sits right on the edge of the beach just outside Sekongkang Village on the west coast of Sumbawa close to some of the best waves Eastern Indonesia has to offer: Yoyo's, Supersuck, Scar Reef and others. Our staff pride themselves on their superb hospitality, creating a relaxed atmosphere where everybody is treated as part of the family. Offering affordable, clean and comfortable rooms, and a beachfront cafe where the sunset view is sublime while relaxing after long sessions in the surf, Rantung Beach Hotel is the perfect base for exploring the waves up and down the coast, or just to get away for a while. Their chef provides great food from only the freshest fish. Indonesian as well as western.  edit
  • Santai Beach Bungalows, Jalan Lingkar Selatan Sekongkang, Sekongkang Bawah (In the hotel strip about half a kilometre east of Yo Yo's surf break), [2]. One of the several options for cheap accommodation right near Yo Yo's, on Rantung beach, facing the ocean. Staff are friendly and fun; has a good atmosphere. Rooms come with mosquito nets and fans. Cheaper rooms are shared bathroom, higher end rooms have private bathrooms. Restaurant on site with Indo and Western dishes, ping pong and pool tables. Motorbike rental possible; ask staff. INR80,000-150,000.  edit
  • Tropic Bamboo Bungalows, Tropic Beach, Pai Village Wera Bima, +62 813 4080 9079, [3]. Next to Pai village in East Wera, just northeast coast of Sape, on a tropical beach with white sand and beautiful coral reefs for snorkelling or diving. INR300,000.  edit
  • Wood Garden Bungalows, Scar Reef, Jelenga village (Jelenga is about 11kms from Jereweh ; the bungalows are 100m from Jelenga Beach), [4]. 6 quiet and peaceful wood bungalows for all budgets ; located in a big garden (mango and coconut grove), just 100m to the beach. All rooms have large private decks overlooking the garden. Hot water, fan and mosquito net. Some boards available for rent, as well as motorbike. There is an affordable restaurant with local & western food.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

The general rule is stick to the tourist spots and don't be too flash with your cash. If you plan to tour extensively, having a reliable driver is a must.

Malaria and Dengue are real risks. The general rule is that if it is 14:00, boiling hot and your sumbawa host is wrapped in blankets, they have malaria. You want to be away from their vicinity before 15:00 and early evening which is when the dengue and malaria mosquitoes are most active.

Sumbawa is made of a number of districts.

The district of Sumbawa Besar on the west coast tends to be the calmest and safest of Sumbawa. The main town of Sumbawa Besar offers some accommodation which might be described as safe. As the second largest town, you can walk around or ride a motorbike but use common sense. On the island of Moyo there is the 6 star resort of Amanwana. It's unlikely that you'll get much change from USD1000 a night but, of course, you should be be safe there.

If you're looking to surf, you will need to travel 3 hours due south to the main breaks of Jerantut and Maluk (supersuck; scar reef). Further south east (but still west) you reach Sekongkang Bay. There is reasonably basic accommodation which can be described as safe.

The district of Dompu is generally devoid of places where you can stay. For this reason, it's not considered a safe place to stay, except as a day trip. One exception where it is safe is Hu'u which has a large concentration of world class surf breaks (Lakai Peak, Periscopes etc) and thus a large number of hotel rooms concentrated within a 1km area. During the surfing months between May to the end of October, the hotels tend to be fully booked so booking is a must. For those who want to get away from the surfing crowds, you can visit the surf break of Majik Point which is about an hour away by boat. About 2 hours away is the left hand break of Tiger point, again accessible only by boat. Between these two breaks, are a number of beaches and there are plans to build resorts on Xili Beach. Whilst it is generally safe to walk these beaches, there is no accommodation and camping for extended periods is not recommended. Be aware, that some local boats are not that reliable and may break down in large reef surf. There are no lights on this coastline and you will need to be back in Hu'u before dark (bear in mind that boat men also have to drive back to their village so they will want to drop you off before).

Bima on the east coast is becoming safer by the day but it is still considered dangerous and it is best to stay in two areas. The main town of Bima has a number of basic hotels which could be considered safe. The countryside is incredibly beautiful but trips should be planned as round trips or day trips from and back to Bima town with a reliable driver.

Day trips: There is a road which goes through the mountains to Sape which is paved and safe. The road to Pulau Sangeang - a volcanic island is also a recommended day trip from Bima. Tamboura is worth a visit but it is a 17 hour round trip. consider going earlier or with a tour with overnight accommodation. Your driver will tell you if the road has been washed out.

As a general rule, be friendly, keep a low profile, use common sense and you will be safe. Use a driver for day trips and try to stay in hotels with a safe and safe deposit keys. Stick to the tried and tested places and do day trips.

Get out[edit]

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