Sumbawa

Sumbawa

Terrific off the beaten track travel.

If you drew a line between the western and eastern extremities of the Indonesian archipelago — Pulau Weh to Papua — and dropped yourself at the midpoint along the main island chain, you’d end up somewhere on mutant-bunny shaped Sumbawa (the bunny is facing east if you can’t see it). Home to The Volcano That Changed The World, Sumbawa boasts world-class surf, tremendous wilderness and some fabulous islands and beaches, yet almost no foreign travellers go.

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Around Sumbawa

Sumbawa is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Sumbawa as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Sumbawa’s different areas.


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The ninth largest in Indonesia, Sumbawa is a deceptively big island, slightly larger than Flores and almost 50 percent bigger than far more popular Bali and Lombok combined — and with less than a quarter of their combined population. It is a big call to say Sumbawa is the most strangely shaped island in the country — Sulawesi, anyone? — but its peculiar outline contains some truly beautiful scenery and is home to more than a million friendly and welcoming Indonesians.

Tropicals, Southwest Sumbawa. : Stuart McDonald.
Tropicals, Southwest Sumbawa. Photo: Stuart McDonald

There’s an airport more or less at either end of the island. The network of roads, by Indonesian standards, is excellent. It’s certainly better than Bali’s for example: It’s in largely good condition and suffers a fraction of the traffic. Regular ferry connections run from either end — in the west to Lombok and the east to Flores — and there is frequent and relatively comfortable bus transport from one end to the other. All these factors come together to make Sumbawa a no-brainer for overland travellers making their way across the archipelago.

Save for the two surfing regions, there are virtually no foreign tourists here. When we say none, we don’t mean “not too many” or “fewer than Lombok or Flores” — we mean NONE. In nearly a month travelling Sumbawa top to tail, outside of the two surfing regions, we saw three foreign ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,700 words.)

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