Sumbawa

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Sumbawa

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Introduction

Sumbawa is an elongated, irregularly shaped island between Lombok and Flores, part of Nusa Tenggara Barat Province. It has some renown among surfers, notably for Lakey beach in Dompu regency and Maluk Beach “Super Suck” in West Sumba regency. But mass tourists pass by it, heading from Bali or Lombok to Flores. So, if you want to explore rather than be guided along, Sumbawa is a good choice.

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Geography

The island is bound by bodies of water; to the west is Alas Strait, south is the Indian Ocean, Saleh Bay creates a major north-central indentation in the island, and the Flores Sea runs the length of the northern coastline. The Sape Strait lies to the east of the island and separates Sumbawa from Flores and the Komodo Islands, there are a number bays and gulfs, most notably Bima Bay, Cempi Bay, and Waworada Bay

Sumbawa's most distinguishing features are Saleh Bay and the Sanggar Peninsula. On the latter stands Mount Tambora, a large stratovolcano famous for its eruption in 1815, one of only a few eruptions of such magnitude in the last 2,000 years. The eruption obliterated most of Tambora's summit, reducing its height by about a third and leaving a six kilometer-wide caldera. Regardless, Tambora remains the highest point on the island. Highlands rise in four spots on the island, as well as on Sangeang Island. The large western lobe of Sumbawa is dominated by a large central highland, and Tambora, Dompu and Bima each have more minor highlands.

There are a number of large surrounding islands, most notably are Moyo Island, volcanically active Sangeang Island, and the tourist Komodo Islands (administered under Flores) to the east.

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Cities

  • Bima - Bima town, counting approximately 150,000 inhabitants, is the capital of Bima Regency (450,000 inhabitants). At 42 kilometres, a good hour’s drive from Bima, lies Sape, the harbour town from where the ferries for Flores (Labuan Bajo) leave.
  • Dompu - Dompu town, population about 50,000, is the capital of Dompu Regency. It is the last stop for surfers heading to Lakey beach and for mountain baggers heading to Tambora.
  • Sumbawa Besar - Sumbawa Besar, population about 60,000, is the capital of Sumbawa Regency. The latter is the largest regency of Sumbawa in area, but has about the same population as Bima Regency.
  • Taliwang - Not more than a village, yet Taliwang it is the capital of West Sumba Regency, which was separated from Sumbawa Regency in 2003. Other places of note in the regency are Poto Tano, Maluk and Sekongkang. The ferries from Lombok arrive at Poto Tano. The other two places are famous among surfers.

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Sights and Activities

Descent into Tambora crater

Descent into Tambora crater

© theo1006

Tambora volcano

The biggest volcanic eruption in Indonesia, and in human memory, was not Krakatau in 1883, but Tambora in April 1815. But as Europe at the time was busy dealing with Napoleon, it took time for the colonial powers to become aware of the immensity of the disaster. Yet in Europe the year 1816 has gone down in the annals as “the year without a summer” with widespread famine caused by failed crops due to volcanic dust from Tambora in the atmosphere. Tambora, which had been thought a dormant volcano, unexpectedly blew its top. With 4,300 metres the mountain was one of the highest in Indonesia. After the eruption a crater had appeared of six kilometres wide and 1,100 metres deep, the highest point on the crater rim being 2,700 metres. Three little kingdoms, Tambora, Pekat and Sanggar with about 20,000 people were wiped off the map. in the following years up to a hundred thousand more, in Sumbawa, Lombok and Bali, died of hunger because rice cultivation had become impossible. The Tambora peninsula remained uninhabited for a century and a half.
With an eye on the bicentennial of the eruption, the Bima Tourism Office has tried to put Tambora in the spotlight. Yet only a few hundred hikers have reached the crater rim so far and less than a hundred made it down into the caldera. So here is your ultimate trekking experience. Find out particulars on the Semi-Official website run by Dutch volunteer Rick Stoetman, with support of the Tourism Authorities. The picture 'Descent into Tambora crater' is his property. The trek starting at Tambora plantation approaches the crater from the north. If you are not up to a day long trek each way, there is now an easier approach from the south. A paved road from Doro Mboha village leads to an altitude of 1,150 metres. From there it’s a two hour hike to the southern rim of the caldera at 1,950 metres. But don't think of descending into the crater without a guide!

Bima town and regency

  • Asi Mbojo Museum - Museum of Bima regency in the former sultan's palace.
  • Dana Taraha Royal Cemetery - Burial place of the first three and the last sultans, located on a hill with good sunset view
  • Dutch Cemetery - Colonial-era cemetery with dilapidated monuments.
  • Goat Island - Pulau Kambing in Indonesian is a small island in Bima Bay. View Bima and Bima Bay from its highest point after a visit to Wadu Pa’a historic site.
  • Roka Reservoir - An artificial lake with recreational area at the foot of the dam.
  • Samparaja Museum - A private museum of the royal family.
  • Satonda island - Satonda Island consists of the remains of a volcano off the Tambora peninsula. Its unique feature is an inland salt-water lake.
  • Snake Island - A rock at 400 metres from the coast where sea snakes hide and let themselves be handled. Also a good place for snorkeling.
  • Traditional Houses - Traditional uma lengge with steep thatched roof are preserved in three different villages in Bima regency.
  • Traditional Weaving - Mekar Sari home industry is the only place in town where they make the typical Bima songket.
  • Wadu Pa'a historic site - Pre-islamic rock sculptures on cliffs bordering Bima bay.

Dompu regency

  • Lakey Beach in Hu'u village - also known as Lakey Peak - is famous among surfers, with waves of 8 to 15 metres high. Located at 3 hours' drive from Bima and one hour from Dompu. There is a choice of home-stay and bungalow-style accommodation.

Sumbawa Besar regency

  • Kencana Beach - A safe sandy beach and snorkelling site at 11 kilometres west of Sumbawa Besar town. There is a resort with wood-and-bamboo bungalows and a swiming pool. The local Balinese community comes to celebrate at the beach and the nearby Hindu temple.
Tanjung Pasir sea garden

Tanjung Pasir sea garden

© theo1006

  • Sandy Cape - Locally known as Tanjung Pasir. An even better site for snorkelling than Kencana Beach, on the south-eastern tip of Moyo island. To be reached by boat from Ai Bari fishermen's village, near Sumbawa Besar.
  • Aik Renung Megalithic Tombs in Batu Tering village 30 kilometres south of Sumbawa Besar.
  • Batubulan Reservoir - An artificial lake 16 kilometres south of Sumbawa Besar, where local livestock comes to drink unattended.

West Sumbawa regency

  • Rantung Beach at Sekongkang village, 72 kilometres or almost two hours' drive from Poto Tano harbour, is another of Sumbawa's famous surfing spots. The best waves are Tropical's, a couple of kilometres further south from Rantung Beach.
  • Taliwang Lake - 24 kilometres south of Poto Tano along the road to Sekongkang one passes Taliwang Lake or Lebok Talwang. It a shallow lake important for bird and plant life. If you like fishing, hire a local boat.
  • Sekongkang to Lunyuk road trip - The 100 kilometres drive from Sekongkang Bawah to Lunyuk used to be doable by 4WD only, because one needed to ford numerous rivers. But since a score of bridges have been built one can do the trip in three hours. The first 20 kilometres until one meets the Amman Mineral Mining pipeline are easy going, so are the next 18 kilometres, Then the road turns inland through virgin forest, until at 60 kilometres one encounters settlements of Balinese who have transmigrated here. After negotiating a last narrow bridge one enters Lunyuk, where there is modest accommodation and some warung.

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Events and Festivals

  • Bima regency anniversary - On the 5th of July Bima regency celebrates its anniversary with official ceremonies. During the days around July 5th other events take place, in which a large part of the population participates.
  • Bima horse racing - At least three times a year, subsequent to the holidays July 5th, August 17th and December 15th, there is horse racing at Bima town, featuring small boys as jockeys riding bareback.

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Getting There

By Plane

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. Merpati and Transnusa fly to both cities from Denpasar (Bali) and Lombok about four times a week. Sekongkang also has an airport, but flights have been stopped for an indefinite period after a small airline called Tropical Air ceased operating.

By Boat

To get to Sumbawa from Bali most people take the ferry from Bali to Lombok, travel overland to the eastern seaport in Lombok (Labuhan Lombok) and then take another ferry to Sumbawa, ending up in Poto Tano. The crossing from Labuhan Lombok to Poto Tano takes 70 minutes, the ferries run almost every hour around the clock.

In the other direction, ferries from Labuanbajo, Flores, travel to Sape. Only one ferry daily leaves in either direction for the 8-hour crossing. They depart at 8:00am approximately.

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Getting Around

Transportation on Sumbawa is problematic, and it's best to book ferries and buses as combined tickets, or you may get stranded in port for an indefinite time trying to get onward.
If you have your license and insurance in order and the right budget, a good way to explore Sumbawa is by motorcycle.

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Eat

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).

  • Mahkota Mawar Restaurant - The best fish restaurant in Bima town. Located on a cliff facing Bima Bay, on the main road south at Ama Hami beach. Not for the disabled, because one has to climb a flight of several stairs after placing one’s order at the counter below. The waiters do not carry the plates up and down. Instead they stay upstairs and haul the food up by way of a manually operated lift.

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Sleep

  • Rantung Beach Hotel, Jl Lingkar Selatan Sekongkang Sekongkang Bawah, Sumbawa Barat, ☎ +62 878 61975666. On the edge of the beach just outside Sekongkang Village on the west coast of Sumbawa close to some of the best regional surfing spots such as, Yoyo's, Supersuck, Scar Reef and others. Good hospitality, relaxed atmosphere with clean and comfortable rooms, and a beachfront cafe with an Indonesian and western menu.
  • Accommodation in Sape - There is only budget accommodation in Sape. But you may be obliged to stay a night in Sape in order to catch the ferry at 8:00am the next morning. Losmen Mutiara is located next to the gate to the jetty, and Restaurant Arema is close by. But the rooms are dark and damp, except the ‘VIP room’ with balcony and squatting toilet. If the distance of one kilometre is not a problem, Losmen Mustika is a better choice. There the lady of the house will prepare your dinner if given sufficient notice.

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Sumbawa Travel Helpers

This is version 69. Last edited at 17:49 on Sep 8, 19 by theo1006. 11 articles link to this page.

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