West Sumba

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Sumba West Sumba



What remains of West Sumba regency after Southwest Sumba was separated from it in 2007 is shaped like a crescent moon, with one horn lying along the south coast and the tip of the other just reaching the north coast. Thereby West Sumba has retained several of the best Indian Ocean beaches. The regency is also home to several villages that most strongly retain the ancestral customs of marapu.

In 2016 West Sumba counted 124,000 inhabitants, of which 33,000 lived in the capital Waikabubak. The town has a handful of modest hotels, and at some of the southern beaches there is a homestay or a resort, among the latter fabulous and pricey eco-resort Nihi Sumba.




  • Waikabubak, capital of West Sumba regency and the second biggest town in Sumba.



Sights and Activities


These five beaches ara all on the Indian ocean coast, south of Waikabubak.

  • Pantai Rua – A long sandy beach with river estuary. Popular among local tourists, therefore crowded on holidays. Accommodation provided by Rua Beach Resort.
  • Pantai Lai Liang – The beach of a bay not more than half a kilometre wide. Flanked by cliffs, with white sand and crystal clear water. Two kilometres west of Lai Liang beach is small cove, Tei Tena beach. According to legend Ubu Dulla and his siblings stranded here when returning from wandering. Back in his village he found that his wife had left with another man. The pursuit of Ubu Dulla’s wife led to the ritual of Pasola. The beach is the venue for a traditional boxing game in the middle of the night, two days before Pasola.
  • Pantai Nihi Watu, the location of Nihi Sumba resort which was chosen as the world’s #1 hotel by readers of Travel & Leasure Magazine. The beach is off limits for anyone who can’t afford staying in the hotel.
  • Pantai Mambang, a white sand beach with crystal clear water protected by a reef, several kilometres long. Best visited in March during the Gaura Pasola, when transport can be obtained easily.
  • Pantai Katobo, a remote beach with a strong surf. Accessed either by a bad road or by walking west from Mambang beach.

Traditional villages

  • Tarung and Waitabar - No need to hire transport for visiting these two connected villages. They lie within Waikabubak town, sheltered from it by some trees. See here the houses with thatched peak roof, the megalithic tombs, the marapu temple and the adung, i.e. the pole from which enemy skulls used to be hung.
  • Prai Ijing - Only two kilometres west of Waikabubak centre lies kampung Prai Ijing on a small hill with thee levels. Walk to the top of the hill for an overview.
  • Gollu and Bodo Maroto - Less than a kilometre to the west from Prai Ijing lie these two villages, Gollo at the foot of a hill and Bodo Maroto on top of it. They play an important role in the holy month Wulla Poddu.
  • Wei Galli - Located at Wei Galli village is the pasola arena closest to Waikabubak, 14 kilometres south of the town. The village also boasts some sacred megaliths believed to have magical powers.
  • Prai Goli - At 14 kilometres south of Waikabubak, this village features an intricately carved gravestone, named watu kajiwa. It is not really a human grave, but was built for hiding heirlooms when the Portugese attacked the village centuries ago.
  • Tabera, at 8 kilometres north of Waikabubak is another centre of the Wulla Poddu (holy month) ceremonies. It is one of the oldest villages of West Sumba.
  • Ombarade village has a sacred courtyard surrounded by a fence. If a stone of the fence should fall, it is a sign that someone has died. The village, located at 22 kilometres north of Waikabubak, also keeps ancient ceramic plates that are believed to ward off poison.


  • Air Terjun La Popu, a fall in Wanukaka river which runs for 80 kilometres through Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park. It drops 60 metres down by several cascades. One can swim in the river. Accessed from the main road by an hour's walk and villagers will insist to guide you there.

National Parks

  • Taman Nasional Manupeu Tanah Daru - In 2016 Sumba's two national parks, Manupeu Tanah Daru and Laiwangi Mangameti, have been brought under one management. Together they are referred to as MaTaLaWa National Park. They are home to 84 species of birds, 10 species of mammals, 49 species of butterflies, 29 species of reptiles, 173 different types of trees and more.



Events and Festivals

  • Bijalungu Hiu Paana - ceremonies at the start of a new season. On the first day sacred objects are taken out for cleansing and villagers line up for a blessing by their spiritual leader, rato, then they will dance all night long. On the second day divination rituals are performed. The position of two sacred stones in a small forest, Manu Wulla and Manu Laddu, indicates whether the coming harvest will be plentiful. Everyone may take part in kabena kebbo, throwing betel nuts at a young buffalo. If one hits the head or neck this means good luck, but hitting the stomach or legs is not so good. Where: Wei Galli village 12 kilometres south of Waikabubak. When: yearly in January.
  • Pasola - The beginning of the planting season in West Sumba is also celebrated with pasola. A sola or hola is a javelin, and pasola is a war game in which riders fling wooden spears to each other. The origin of pasola is said to be a love triangle which almost caused war. In Wanukaka district the pasola is preceded by the ritual madidi nyale, ‘calling of sea worms’. If many sea worms are caught on Wanukaka beach, there will be an abundant harvest. When and where: every February in Hobba Kalla, Lamboya district; every March in Kamara Dena, Wanukaka district and in Gaura, West Lamboya distrrict. The exact dates are decided by the rato, spiritual leaders.
  • Wulla Poddu is the holy month of the West Sumbanese. The name means ‘Bitter Month’ implying that festivities and some other activities are forbidden. Rituals during this month include thanksgiving and begging for blessing. Special is panaa when the creation of man on earth is being told. Men also go wild boar hunting. If the first boar caught is male, harvest will be plenty; but if the boar bites, mice will eat it. When: mid-October to the first week of November. Where: most of West Sumba.



Getting There

Tambolaka airport is at an hour's drive from Waikabubak. The other airport of Sumba at Waingapu is a three hours' drive away.




  • Budget hotels in Waikabubak: Hotel Manandang, Hotel Aloha, Hotel Ronita, Hotel Artha, Hotel Pelita.
  • Beach resorts: Rua Beach Resort, Nihi Sumba Resort.



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This is version 20. Last edited at 6:59 on Oct 5, 18 by theo1006. 2 articles link to this page.

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