Indonesia Rote Guide
Rote Island is a slender, rain-starved, limestone gem with grainy white beaches and epic surf. Offshore winds create swells wild enough for expert surfers, but astonishingly also gentle enough for beginners. Discover a mixed scenery of natural limestone bridges, undulating green-gold grasslands, tiny offshore islands bordered by hectares of deserted beaches, intact coral reefs, rare mangroves, turquoise bays, and more top-class waves. Diving is exceptional due to large numbers of manta and dugong, plus the endangered snake-head turtle. With its own culture, beautiful ikat weavings, and ritual traditions, Rote offers a thrilling tropical getaway, still unexplored and remote.
Rote prides itself on being one of the border regions of Indonesia, sitting in the southernmost part of this country. Rote floats south of West Timor in East Nusa Tenggara province, the closest Indonesian island to Australia. This almost remote location of the island allows it to enjoy from the extremities in terms of caves, natural environment, and some of the clearest waters in all of the areas. With more than 1200 square meters of land to be covered in Rote, the island is not exactly the smallest one you will find around, but it is just as cute as they come.
Rote island has become a top-class surf destination over the years and getting more attention as a diving and island hopping hub. Rote promises a lot to adventure travelers. Discover spectacular natural environment with clear, transparent waters, caved rock formations, terraced plantations and rolling hills, rugged with palm trees, savanna, and rare forests.
Rote is fAmed for being a culturally-rich region bringing all a tourist wants to see at a tropical island to the table. You will notice the custom hats of the people in this region, beautiful ikat weavings, ritual traditions, and the Sasando, a musical instrument that is unique to the island of Rote.
Surrounded by many small uninhabited isles, hidden bays and pristine beaches, Rote is a fantastic island-hopping destination. Nearby small islands and the coastlines of Rote are fringed by hectares of beautiful coral reefs, making the island accessible for those who love snorkeling. The marine life of Rote island is amazingly varied, with all kinds of beautiful colored tropical fish from the firefish to reef sharks. Diving at Rote island is exceptional due to the large numbers of manta and dugong that can be seen here. Rote is also a home for an endangered snake-head turtle.
That said, Rote island is blessed with unique locations to enjoy the beach life, surf, dive, island hop, explore the rich historical background, and much more.
Rote is a tropical location, so it has two distinct weather types. The dry season in this region starts from April and ends sometime in October, giving you a large window to visit. You will want to stay away from going on a trip between December and March as the rains can get more prominent during this timeframe. Of course, there are transitional periods between March and April/ October and November, which you can consider if you want to travel around those times. Whatever your preference, it is possible to travel and explore all the goodies of Rote without having to worry about the heavy presence of other tourists that could mar the experience for you.
Rote is not that large of a location, so we can assure you that you will get a consistent experience across different beaches. Thus, that should not be the sole driver of your choice of place to stay in this region. What you can use to eliminate options of location from your list, though, are the new things you want to see in the area. Some of these are closeness to the airport, proximity to specific beaches suitable for surfing or more suited for snorkeling, and more. No matter the choice of lodge, hotel or reservation you get at this location, we can assure you that you will have a great experience on Rote island. Note that you have to do the due diligence to ensure the accommodation is okay in the first place.
Seeing as Rote island is in the southernmost part of Indonesia, it is understandable that there won’t be a lot of islands around it. While that might dash the hopes of those looking to go for some island hopping, wait till you see what Do’o, Ndao, and Mulut Seribu islands bring to the table. Being close to the magical Rote, some of that magic and natural touch is here too – with a dash of its surprises to be discovered by you. You can voyage west across the Savu Sea, passing Savu Islands, Sumba, and finally reaching Flores and Sumbawa.
Bali is like the king of all islands in Indonesia. Still, it does not have the unexplored, Robinson Crusoe natural feel that comes with Rote. This is understandable since the location has been highly developed for tourists promising everything you would expect from a tropical paradise. That also means you will get a lot of foot traffic and people in Bali. The vibe is much more off-the-beaten-path in Rote and its surrounding pristine island. While surfing is also more significant in Rote, although Bali brings more locations for snorkeling, diving, and island hopping.
Lombok is more developed, more accessible, features an international airport, and enjoys proximity to fascinating islands, including Bali, Gili, and Nusa islands. Both Lombok and Rote promise paradise for water sport enthusiasts, although Rote likely wins in regards to surfing. Otherwise, everything you get in Rote, you will get it bigger in Lombok due to its substantially larger landmass. That said, you can always jet out to one of these locations from the other whenever you need to have a feel of what’s there.
Rote and Sumba are a part of the East Nusa Tenggara province, but the latter is much larger than the former. However, that does not mean there is much of a difference to them. They both have great waters for snorkeling and diving, carry amazing locations to be seen, and bring with them a natural vibe. Both Rote and Sumba islands are surfing havens. Both offer a fascinating cultural heritage. At the end of it all, your personal considerations will tell which of these islands you will pick. Before we leave, though, we might as well mention that surfers could most likely find the setup at Sumba much more palatable to their needs.