Indonesia Sumba Guide
The first thing that comes to mind, Sumba is a surfer’s paradise. With swells rising up to 6 feet, boarders have been flocking here for many years. But while Bali has become a household name, Sumba is still relatively undiscovered. Exotic scenery, cultural heritage, horses as wild as its coastlines – Sumba is so much more than a surf den. Scattered through the countryside are hilltop villages with thatched clan houses, clustered around megalithic tombs where villagers still pay homage to their ancestors. With its low limestone hills and rugged, undulating savannahs, knitted together with fields of maize and cassava, this eastern part of Indonesia is a natural gem. While for many, Sumba is also famous for its handwoven fabric. You would feel the same way about the final design, too, after you see it. Designed totally by hand and having a lot of working hours go into it, this beautiful ikat is a representation of all the island stands for – beautify, class, elegance, and history.
Sumba is one of the much fAmed Lesser Sunda islands collection, finding its home in the eastern part of Indonesia, between the islands of Sumbawa and Komodo. The relatively modest island is reasonably significant at more than 4500 square meters. Still, it has not been as widely developed as some other tourist locations. This is not all bad news, though, seeing as it makes for a more natural and resort feel for tourists who like to feel closer to nature and neverending waves.
Easily accessible, Sumba lies to the east of Bali, but strangely most visitors don’t find time to explore. Those who do make the trip here are usually surfers since Sumba has a surprising surf scene. With some gorgeous azure waters, the craziest thing about the beaches here is that you will probably be left to enjoy them on your own. In addition to its pounding waves, in Sumba, you can expect pretty hillsides, limpid lakes, salted water Waikuri Lake, and some spectacular waterfalls inside the newly created national parks.
East Sumba offers fascinating experiences of megalithic tombs that house the remains of members of the royal family. There is plenty of authentic villages with locals specializing in exquisite ikat weaving, including for royalties. And how about driving West through paddy fields to a rarely visited weaving village where ikat-clad warriors will greet you on horseback? And after, sitting in the shade on the veranda of a traditional house where a selection of authentic dances will entertain you before attempting to make our choice from a magnificent display of ikat, baskets, and beads. Sumba will undoubtedly cast its spell.
A visit to Sumba is never complete without witnessing the ritual of Pasola, a mounted lance battling rivalry. On horseback, villagers of opposing teams engage with blunted spears to dismount one another, demonstrating skilled riding and accuracy. In the past days, to make the spirits happy, Pasola was believed to be a success when the blood was shed to fertilize the soil. The celebration of Pasola is held once a year at the beginning of the growing season, around February-March.
Local traditions and even the houses are different from the rest of Indonesia. If you are interested in seeing another side of this massive archipelago, then Sumba is one spot not to cross off the itinerary.
Sumba is a part of tropical locations, putting us at a much more comfortable place to determine the best time to visit. Looking at the temperature and climate charts, anytime from March or April through November is a great time to visit here if you want to explore the island inland. For surfers, it could be quite the opposite as monsoons during December – March brings sensational waves not to miss. With such a vast landmass, there is plenty to see and do in Sumba year-long, while you will have warm temperatures all around.
For those who want to get away, a remote Kalala beach on south-east of Sumba is an ideal location. Besides the beachfront and all that comes with it, the internet is not great – which means you will have to be cut off from your phone anyways. The same is true for those who will choose Lewa town instead. Being a central village location, you even get to be better ingrained with the culture of the people there. The considerable town experience is best found at Waikabubak. Even though we mean it literally like a large town, you still won’t leave behind the traditional dusty streets and amazing markets. Finally, check out the accommodation options in Waingapu if you are going for a more developed area than the rest.
You do not have to spend all the time on Sumba if you don’t want to. The best way to spice things up is to explore other islands close by – and we are happy to let you now that Sumba is just the place to be if you are an island hopper. Here, we have the likes of Komodo National Park. Make sure to visit Padar, Komodo island, Rinca, Gili Lawa Darat, Gili Lawa Laut, Taka Makassar, Kanawa, Kelor, and Mesa island. There is no way you would not love the unique experience provided on these other islands too. While further away, there is a magnificent Rote island that is waiting to be explored, also.
Sumba is not small, but it is when compared to Bali. Almost the grandfather of all other tourist island locations, Bali draws in the tourists in their droves every year. Thus, it is only natural that Bali will be more developed for tourists with lesser natural landmarks and locations to explore – which is not the case in Sumba. At the same time, it will be impossible to enjoy the same quality of surf and remarkable scenery in Sumba as you would in Bali. However, the beaches in Sumba can compare with, and even beat, their counterparts in Bali.
It is easy to pick these two locations apart from the way they approach tourists. From Komodo dragons to trekking, diving, and deserted beaches, there is a lot to do and see in Komodo National Park. Being more advertised, Komodo is more accommodating of tourists, and that could be a big deal for some. Labuan Bajo, on Flores island, is a gateway to wonders of Komodo National Park, and it can get jam-packed during peak season. On the opposite side, Sumba island is a road less traveled, where you can enjoy neverending beaches alone. Sumba promises one of the best surfing in Indonesia with a unique traditional look and feel.