Photo: The gorgeous Lailiang Beach.

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From Waikabubak, imagine a giant arm reaching down towards the ocean, fingers spread to caress the sea. At the fingertips, in the southern districts of Wanokaka and Lamboya, you’ll find some of Sumba’s most stunning beaches.

The winding drive south takes in wonderful scenery: sloping hills, rice fields, river valleys, palm plantations, and around every bend, magnificent sweeping bays. From Lailiang Beach in the east to Marosi Beach in the west and beyond, there are deserted beaches and superb coastline to explore.

Beach time. Photo taken in or around Wanokaka and Lamboya, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Beach time. Photo: Sally Arnold

Beaches in the region are generally easily accessible, although some require a bit of a trek or a long and bumpy drive, with the notable exception of Nihiwatu Beach — if you’re not a paying guest, you will be denied access and chased off the waves. Facing south towards the Indian Ocean, some challenging surfing is possible at Wanokaka, Kerewee, Marosi (and Nihiwatu) beaches. The surf is fairly consistent, but apparently better from April to October — check surf sites for up-to-date information. Other beaches are more fishermen friendly — check out the excellent morning fish market at Waihura Beach. And then there are the sublime beaches for just doing nothing — the perfect bay at Lailiang Beach and hidden coves near Kerewee are guaranteed to make you feel instantly relaxed.

The Wanokaka and Lamboya regions are home to many attractive hilltop villages. The tall pointed rooftops of Sodan look imposing and majestic from a distance, but we were unable to explore as the road was impassable. Waigalli and Praigolil, both with impressive megalithic tombs, are more easily reached, and villagers are accustomed to tourists.

So green. Photo taken in or around Wanokaka and Lamboya, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

So green. Photo: Sally Arnold

The otherwise sleepy region boasts three famous Pasola fields -- two in Wanokaka, and one in Lamboya -- and comes alive in February and March when the traditional battles are fought. Tucked away in the jungle within the boundary of Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park, La Popu Waterfall is easily accessible, and one of the prettiest cascades in Sumba. The less accessible Mata Yangu Waterfall is part of the same watercourse, and a challenging trek can be made between the two.

Several beaches provide basic homestay accommodation and if you’re cashed up, the world-class Nihiwatu resort hugs the coast at Nihiwatu Beach. If you’d prefer to visit for just a day, the area is only one hour from Waikabubak, and two and a half from Waitabula.

Accommodation in the area, be it basic or fancy, will dish up a meal, otherwise there are extremely limited options. If you are visiting on a day trip, bring a packed lunch.

Marosi Beach should do. Photo taken in or around Wanokaka and Lamboya, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Marosi Beach should do. Photo: Sally Arnold

Public transport to Wanokaka and Lamboya is limited. A daily bus leaves Waikabubak for Wanokaka (20,000 rupiah; 1.5 hours), and a truck to Lamboya (20,000 rupiah; 1.5 hours). Roads are generally good and mostly paved but narrow. The area is easily explored under your own steam, by ojek or private car.

No ATMs in the region mean you’ll need to cash up in town before you leave — bring small denominations. Phone signal is limited or inconsistent and WiFi is mostly unavailable unless you’re staying at one of the fancier places. Electricity is often only available via generator during the evenings. It’s all ideal for an unplugged escape.

The Lamboya police station is in the village of Lamboya, on the road that runs between Marosi Beach and Nihiwatu. A local health clinic is nearby but if you’re in need of healthcare head to Waikabubak if possible.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Wanokaka and Lamboya.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Wanokaka and Lamboya.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Wanokaka and Lamboya? Please read this.
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