Photo: Tarimbang beach scenes.

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We really don’t want to share the secret. Tarimbang Beach. Oops, out of the bag! Now wait for the intake of breath as you first glimpse this piece of paradise. Really.

Perhaps it was the long, bone-jarring trip to get here, and any nice beach would have had the same effect, but we had a good night’s sleep and our reaction the next morning on second viewing was just the same.

On the way to white. Photo taken in or around Tarimbang, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

On the way to white. Photo: Sally Arnold

Regionally, Tarimbang is East Sumba, but geographically it’s almost smack bang in the middle of the southern coast. It can be reached from East or West Sumba by taking a sharp turn south, just east of Lewa, the town halfway along the main east-west highway. Roads start off well, then get progressively worse as you head south. The gruelling 42 kilometre stretch from the turnoff takes about three hours. But it is scenic. We have heard that there are plans for improving this road soon. It may be a mixed blessing. Hopefully easier access won’t turn paradise into a parking lot.

Tarimbang’s wide bay boasts a vast and pristine white-sand beach, edged by tropical forest and defined by imposing white cliffs and curling, perfect waves. Close to the shore is good for swimming and snorkelling over a small sheltered reef, but most come here for the surf and the famed Miller’s Right. The waves are challenging and only suitable for intermediate to experienced surfers. The main surf season is March to October. Expect accommodation to be limited during this period.

Pretty from afar. Photo taken in or around Tarimbang, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Pretty from afar. Photo: Sally Arnold

The bays to the west of Tarimbang are not accessible by road and are reputedly even more spectacular. Almost hard to believe, but we lacked the time to visit them on our March 2016 trip. Watubakul, a small cove to the west of Tarimbang, is famed for its beautiful stone and boasts the most expensive gravestones in Sumba. It can be reached by walking along the beach, around the cliffs from Tarimbang at low tide and takes an hour. Watch the tides and ask a local to be sure it’s safe to go, as you can be easily trapped in the bay with no way out.

Mambang, the next bay west, is reachable on foot and takes about two hours. A local guide will show you the way for 150,000 rupiah. The following two bays west, Kambaru and Laicucu, are only feasible by boat. Peter’s Magic Paradise can arrange a boat trip to all four bays for around a million rupiah.

Pretty up close too. Photo taken in or around Tarimbang, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Pretty up close too. Photo: Sally Arnold

Laputi Waterfall is usually within reach of Tarimbang, but we had to turn back as the road was too bad. You might have better luck. Marthen´s Homestay can arrange a trip to the waterfall for 600,000 rupiah. It takes about two hours each way. We believe it’s worth the trip. (Got a GPS? You can find it at 10° 1’ 20.49? S 120° 3’ 26.69? E)

Tarimbang has two places to stay, a basic surf camp 200 metres from the beach, or a slightly rundown hotel 4.5 kilometres away. Both are priced to include meals. Facilities are limited. Power is only available via generator in the evenings, and there’s no phone signal or WiFi. Marthen’s Homestay has a small shop attached that sells sundries and beer. It’s remote so prices are a little higher than average.

ATMs are in Lewa, 3.5 hours away, so take enough cash to last with you, bearing in mind how beautiful the beach is. The closest medical facility is a small village health clinic 35 kilometres away (hours by road!), so take a comprehensive first aid kit.

Tarimbang is not the easiest place to get to, but you will be more than adequately rewarded for your effort. A daily truck (standing room only, with livestock) leaves Waingapu at 05:00 (50,000 rupiah; 5 hours) — seriously, don’t do it. A bus from Waingapu or Waikabubak can drop you at Praipaha, the turnoff 11.5 kilometres east of Lewa, and you can arrange with your accommodation in Tarimbang to be picked up there. A private car from Waingapu is 800,000 rupiah, and from Tambolaka 1.2 million. An ojek from Waingapu is 250,000.

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