Photo: Kalala Beach, East Sumba.

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Now THIS is a beach. On the southeastern coast of Sumba, tremendous Kalala Beach is an expansive stretch of sparkling white sand, just the ticket for anyone who wants to get away from everything and everybody. There’s swimming, and okay snorkelling, fishing and surfing, but you’ll have to wait a bit for the Instagramming and Facebooking as the 3G signal isn’t great — bliss.

Prime surfing season is June to September. It can be rough and windy at times with large swells, as the coast is exposed to the open ocean — next stop Australia. We heard stories that you can see the lights of north Australia from here; we find that hard to believe, and if there are lights you’re seeing it’s probably just fishing boats or the Australian Navy.

The beach goes on for a while… Photo taken in or around Kalala, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

The beach goes on for a while… Photo: Sally Arnold

Deep sea trenches just off the coast are prime positions for game fishing. Boat trips can be arranged with Kalala Bungalows. The southern end of the beach had good waves for bodysurfing at the time of our visit, and the calmer northern end has a reef that can be snorkelled, however the one quick snorkel we did, we saw mostly bleached coral only.

It can take hours to walk the length of Kalala Beach, at one end framed by mountains, the other by tall gebang palm trees. Pandanus palms spread their fingered roots, tiny beach spinifex rolls by and beach creeper tendrils crawl across the sand. Between the jetty and Kalala Bungalows, hidden amid the pandanus, remnants of a World War II bunker can be found, though the cement shell is probably of interest to war history buffs only.

Pretty pretty. Photo taken in or around Kalala, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Pretty pretty. Photo: Sally Arnold

Unfortunately, the otherwise pristine sweep of coast is sullied with an eyesore jetty project, which by local sources, is more a political folly than useful infrastructure. The project has been ongoing since 2012. At a cost of billions of rupiah (millions of US dollars), with a number of tendered companies coming and going, the project is supposed to be for a ferry port connecting West Timor that will replace the current port in Waingapu. The distance by sea is 30 minutes less.

The southeastern area of Sumba has little infrastructure, and most people coming by ferry would then have to make a three-hour road journey to Waingapu. This would maybe not be such a problem if the plan was to develop the area, but the waves here are high, rough and unpredictable — which would seem it make it unsuitable for a ferry port. The boat working on the project at the time of our visit in March 2016 was unable to get to the jetty due to big waves. Someone is obviously benefiting.

Kalala has only one place to stay. It’s relaxing, but overpriced. It’s also your only option for eating. There are no other facilities in the area. Watu Parunu Beach, with its interesting rock formations is a nearby attraction, but we didn’t see it this visit.

Australians will feel right at home. Photo taken in or around Kalala, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Australians will feel right at home. Photo: Sally Arnold

Kalala is 125 kilometres from Waingapu and 60 kilometres from Melolo. There are daily buses from Waingapu (40,000 rupiah; 4 hours) and Melolo (40,000 rupiah; 2.5 hours) to Baing. You will then need to walk the last two kilometres to Kalala, or arrange an ojek with Kalala Bungalows.

The beach could be visited on a long day trip from either Waingapu or Melolo, but you will need private transport, as in our experience, the bus times (and prices) are… flexible.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kalala.
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