Riding the west coast of Lembata

Riding the west coast of Lembata

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The far western tip of Lembata is graced with a set of excellent beaches offering white sands, crystal waters and tremendous views across to Gunung Ile Boleng on Adonara. It makes for an excellent full-day excursion from Lewoleba.

Travelfish says:

This day-long excursion starts from Lewoleba town, runs out to the west coast then all the way down to near the southwestern tip where the road then cuts inland to stunning Pasir Putih surf beach, the highlight of the trip. You will need to come back the same way as you come—while it is possible to continue around the coastline to Lalmalera, the road is in very bad shape and is quite time consuming. While this day trip is best done by hired scooter, you could also hire a bemo or pickup for the day to do the same trip. The trip took us five hours one way (with frequent stopping) and three hours coming back (without stopping). Leave early, wear a helmet, and pack sunscreen!

See a trail? Follow it. : Stuart McDonald.
See a trail? Follow it. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Starting from Lewoleba, take Jalan Trans Lembata west out of town. You will first pass the harbour (where the barbecue fish restaurants are located along with the Pelni ferry berth); keep going for a few more kilometres till you reach a hard right turn. Continue straight ahead and you'll immediately enter Lewoleba’s primary market where you should check you have a full tank of gas and pick up some fresh fruit, water and other snacks. At the time of writing in mid-2017 there was pretty much nothing in the way of warungs further along the way.

Uran’s Prayer Garden
Once you've finished shopping, head back to the main road and continue on your way. After a kilometre or so you'll pass a large single pier on your right, then the road veers left and up a rise. At the top, there is a dirt road running off to the right and signposted as Uran’s Prayer Garden. The dirt road weaves through knee-height grass, eventually finishing at a clifftop “prayer garden”. We visited here twice and there was not another soul on site.

The outlook across the Boleng Strait from Uran’s Prayer Garden.  : Stuart McDonald.
The outlook across the Boleng Strait from Uran’s Prayer Garden. Photo: Stuart McDonald

It’s a contemplative spot and the views out to Adonara across the Boleng Strait are excellent. As with the other two viewpoints further south, we’d suggest visiting here on the way back to enjoy sunset. It is a beautiful spot and while we didn't check it out there looks to be a terrific beach just to the south of here which you may be able to visit with a bit of bush bashing.

Waijarang Beach
Waijarang is the first coastal village of any substance you'll hit along this coast. It is a working beach, with Waijarang village nestled into the southern end of the gently curving northwest-facing beach. The northern end is largely undisturbed. The far northern end of the beach is given over to Lewoleba’s second small ferry pier, which receives the MV Ileape a few times a week on its milk run from Kupang on Timor to Kalabahi on Alor.

Looking down the beach at Waijarang. : Stuart McDonald.
Looking down the beach at Waijarang. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Red Boat Beach and Wewanbelen Beach
Just around the headland to the south of Waijarang village lies an even better beach which is totally undeveloped. We have no idea what the beach is called (if it has a name at all), so we're calling it “Red Boat Beach” on account of a red boat that was slowly drifting by offshore. With grey to off-white sand, and crystal waters offshore, this struck us as a very good spot for a layabout in the waters. A little bush bashing is required to reach the beach; just ride slowly and keep an eye out for a trail to the right.

South of the small headland and you'll reach gorgeous Wewanbelen Beach, a west-facing stretch of sands with a clutch of bales at the southern end. Save these, the beach is near totally undeveloped, the sand is gleamingly white and the waters are, well, crystal clear.

Red Boat Beach. : Stuart McDonald.
Red Boat Beach. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Lembata viewpoint and Bukit Doa Watomiten
Continue south and on your left you'll spy two viewpoints, a large “selfie” monument followed by a large Christian statue. They're on separate headlands and reached by separate access roads. Neither is signposted but you can’t miss them.

The first has two selfie structures popular for Instagrammers, one with two hands clasped into a love heart and a second reading Lembata in enormous red letters. The second lookout has a large, curiously Batman-esque statue of the Lady of All Nations. The statue relates to a series of supernatural appearances of the Virgin Mary, in this case 56 visions experienced by Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam between 1945 and 1959. The statue was erected in 2013.

Looking south from Bukit Doa Watomiten. : Stuart McDonald.
Looking south from Bukit Doa Watomiten. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Both offer outstanding views, and as with the Prayer Garden earlier on, we’d suggest visiting on the way back to take advantage of the sunset. Visit during the day and you'll most likely have both of the viewpoints to yourself. Novice scooter pilots should exercise particular care on both access roads, especially the second one.

Desa Bout Beach and Desa Wuakerong Beach
After all the searing white sand, the off-grey sands at the beach at Desa Bout will be easier on the eyes. The broad empty sands are good for chasing crabs and for launching yourself into the ocean from. Slow down for a few pics, but if you want to swim, we'd say keep going south. The village here is very friendly and this is also a good spot to top up your gas tank.

Beach views south of Desa Duawutun. : Stuart McDonald.
Beach views south of Desa Duawutun. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Desa Wuakerong Beach shifts back into the white sand arena. This is a working beach with an active fishing village abutting the sands. We found the beach here to be a bit scruffy and ill-kept—keep heading south.

Duawutun Beach
Heading south, the road deteriorates and cuts inland for a river crossing (the river was dry when we visited in July 2017) before entering Desa Duawutun. The village has its own house beach, but head a bit further south, say a kilometre, then bush bash through to the beach, easily the best one on this west-facing stretch of Lembata.

Gorgeous Pasir Putih. : Stuart McDonald.
Gorgeous Pasir Putih. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Bright white sand and clear waters make for an excellent spot to cool off or just read a book in the shade by the treeline. The beach gets easier to access after a few kilometres when you reach a large open area home to a few fishermen shacks and goats, but we preferred the beach a bit further north, away from Desa Babokerong (the fishing village). Other travellers we met said they'd arranged fishermen to cook them some seafood for lunch here.

Pasir Putih
South of Desa Babokerong the road cuts inland again as it heads to Lembata’s south coast, and the best beach of the lot, Pasir Putih. A surf beach, Pasir Putih supposedly showcases a very good wave when the southwest swell rolls in, but unless you've got a board with you, this is more a beach suited for great walks, reading in the shade, rock-hopping and generally having a holiday from a holiday.

Peak hour. : Stuart McDonald.
Peak hour. Photo: Stuart McDonald

There is a small fishing village at the far eastern end of the beach and another, Desa Pasir Putih, to the east. At the eastern end you'll also find a bale and more shady trees to relax under. If you're looking for one beach to spend most of your day on, this should be it.

Note that as you arrive from the west coast you'll reach a junction with a side road running back on your right—take this road to reach some of the best parts of the beach.

Locals cooling off by at the beach near Desa Tewaowutung. : Stuart McDonald.
Locals cooling off by at the beach near Desa Tewaowutung. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Desa Tewaowutung
The road starts to really deteriorate around here and strikes inland for a little after Desa Lolong before returning to the coastline near Desa Tewaowutung. On account of the road, this is as far as we got, but there is a very pretty white-sand beach running in front of the local well. Cool your heels here for half an hour or so before starting the long ride back.

Onwards to Lamalera
While most maps do not mark a road running around the coast from here to Lalmalera, we met two French travellers who did it on a scooter. They said it took “five plus” hours and was very bumpy. We wouldn't bother.

See you next week. : Stuart McDonald.
See you next week. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Tours in Indonesia

These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.

Our top 3 other sights and activities in and around Lembata

The whaling village of Lamalera
The whaling village of Lamalera

Ask yourself why you are going.

The Bajo village
The Bajo village

Take a walk before sunset