Located between the islands of Sumbawa and Komodo, 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.
What comes to mind after you hear Sumba Island? Is it exotic scenery and rolling hills; or cultural heritage and ritual battles; or maybe the wild horses and the best surfing? Sumba combines it all and more ~ a dream destination of every adventure traveler. And we are going to explore it on a voyage from east to west!
We start our journey from Walakiri Beach, one of the iconic beaches on Sumba, where the real magic happens at sunset. Witness spectacular shades of red playing with the shadows of the enormous dancing mangrove trees.
Our next destination is Prailiu indigenous village ~ one of the most exotic traditional villages in East Sumba. Locals here still preserve their ancient beliefs and values. You will find traditional houses standing tall with high pyramid-shaped roofs, called Uma Mbatang or Uma Hori. Meet the village’s females who specialize in exquisite ikat weaving, including for royalties The material used is mostly taken from the forest around the village and so you know, it surely needs a quite long journey to produce an artwork of woven fabric.
The journey continues west towards Wairinding Hill, one of the most photographed sceneries of Sumba. Its rolling hills offer different experience depending on the time of the year. Wairinding appears fiercely green during the rainy season (November-May) and transforms into a beautiful field of gold in the dry season (July-October).
We are moving forward, towards a vast savannah of East Sumba called Puru Kambera. The place presents a startlingly different landscape from its nearby town, Waingapu. You would find an open stretch of grassland surrounded by the hills on one side, and the ocean on the other. Home to gracious wild horses roaming around, Puru Kambera’s savanna is breathtaking.
At the western end of Sumba Island, Weekuri Lake is a place not to miss. Separated by cliffs, this tidal lagoon is only 20 meters away from the sea with a sandy bottom and cool waters that are perfect for swimming. There is a jumping board for thrill seekers. Like many hidden gems on this island, you won’t find many people here. Not far from the Lake, there is a spectacular Mandorak beach that reminds of Nusa Penida.
The next destination is Bawana Beach that belongs to Sumba’s most recognizable icons; featuring Batu Bolong, a rock wall with a giant hole that sits on a sterling stretch of white sand. Wait for the low tide to enjoy the softness of the sand but be careful swimming as the waves are harsh in this part of the island. It’s a surfers’ paradise!
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 every once a year at the beginning of the growing season, around February-March.
Among its endless hills and beaches, the combination of natural scenery and cultural richness of Sumba island will indeed make your experience truly unforgettable.