Photo: Gili Paserang viewpoint.

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If you’re arriving in Sumbawa from Lombok by ferry, your first port of call will be Poto Tano, Sumbawa’s primary western port. Poto Tano is home to no fewer than eight glistening islands, a couple of which are well worth visiting, so don’t be too fast rushing off onto the mainland.

Poto Tano perches along the eastern coast of a chicken-leg like peninsula that juts out into the Alas Strait. Surrounded by small coral- and mangrove-fringed islands and backing onto some spectacular hills, this is a welcome taster to Sumbawa proper.

Take me somewhere. Anywhere. Photo taken in or around Poto Tano, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Take me somewhere. Anywhere. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The port (there is no real town to speak of) passes by in the blink of an eye and then, a few hundred metres down the road, there is a small fishing village from where you can hire boats to some of the nearby islands to either visit on a day trip or camp on.

In the mornings, buses may meet arriving (and departing) ferries but as the afternoon drags on, aside from through-buses (ie those using the ferry), the bus traffic drops right off. If you’re not on through-transport, try to arrange yourself to be arriving at Poto Tano in the morning rather than the afternoon for the best chance of onwards transport that doesn’t cost the earth.

Hello Gili Paserang. Photo taken in or around Poto Tano, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Hello Gili Paserang. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Most will be pushing on elsewhere, but if you arrive early, and have time on your side, consider doing a half-day boat trip out to one of the surrounding islands. While there are eight in total, we recommend Gili Paserang or Gili Kenawa. If you have time for just one, and want to snorkel, definitely go to Gili Paserang. If you have less time/money and are less fussed about snorkelling, go to Gili Kenawa. If you have time and money, go to both!

Boats can be arranged in the fishing village. Just be sure to let the boatman know what your onwards travel plans are and he’ll be able to advise what time you need to be back by to catch an onwards bus.

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We camped for two nights on the south coast of Gili Paserang and highly recommend it. You’ll need to bring all your own kit (including water) but the rewards more than make up for the effort. Boatmen in Poto Tano are happy to drop you off and pick you up again a couple of days later.

Our Paserang campsite.  Photo taken in or around Poto Tano, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Our Paserang campsite. Photo: Stuart McDonald

There is no accommodation in Poto Tano. The closest beds are in Alas, around 45 minutes east of Poto Tano, or Taliwang or Kertasari Beach, around an hour and 90 minutes respectively, south of Poto Tano. Food is little more than a cluster of warungs by the main ferry terminal and a second cluster by the fishing village.

There are ATMs for BNI and BRI by the port terminal. Phone signal and 3G internet is fine at both Poto Tano and the surrounding islands.


What next?

 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Poto Tano.
 Read up on how to get to Poto Tano.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Poto Tano? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

Onward travel

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