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Catching perfect waves in Sumbawa ~ East of Bali

August 31, 2009
Scar reef, Sumbawa Island. Photo: flickr member justinsebastian

Scar reef, Sumbawa Island. Photo: flickr member justinsebastian

With a name like Sumbawa, and a view like this you know you’ve reached some form of exotic nirvana. A very appropriate name for what avid surfers from around the world have been congregating to. Not to be mistaken with Sumba, which is a neighboring island and another excellent surfing destination. Sumbawa, which lies to the east of Lombok, is larger than Bali and Lombok combined. It’s a poor rugged island, which, thanks to an enormous gold and copper mining project that has recently begun operations, may well become more developed and much wealthier in the future. Meanwhile most of the inhabitants are farmers, and fishermen.


Sumbawa Island, a haven for global surfers. Photo: flickr member ndut'z

Sumbawa Island, a haven for global surfers. Photo: flickr member ndut'z

Sumbawa naturally divides into two parts, west and east, separated by the Tambora volcano. In 1815 Tambora erupted, killing thousands and reducing the peak from 4,200 m to the 2,850 m, it is today. The western Sumbawans lean towards Lombok in both looks and language, whilst the easterners lean towards Flores. Everyone however is strongly Muslim and has been since the early 1600s.

Volcano Lake on Sumbawa Island. Photo: flickr member ameland 1732

Volcano Lake on Sumbawa Island. Photo: flickr member ameland 1732

The island’s attractions are mainly natural: the volcano can be climbed although it’s hard, two-day trek to the top. Once there on a clear day, the views are breathtaking, and the caldera, which is some 6 km wide, contains a two-coloured lake.

But most of the visitors to the island, however come for the world-class surfing at Hu’u and Lakey Beach, which is at its best between June and August. The island’s main town, Sumbawa Besar is small, dusty ans provincial -easy to explore on foot or by horse and cart. People are friendly and hospitable. Also within visiting distance are some fascinating megalithic, carved tombs, believed to be 2,000 years old. Sambawa may be fairly a low-key island, but it is well worth a few days of your time.

Enroute to Sumbawa to catch perfect waves. Photo: flickr member ndut'z

Enroute to Sumbawa to catch perfect waves. Photo: flickr member ndut'z


When to go: May to October.
Population: 1,000,000.
How to get there: By air to Sumbawa Besar or to Bima from Bali, Sumba or Flores. By ferry from many others Indonesian islands. You should Do’s and Dont’s: Skimpy attire is a no-no. This is a staunchly Muslim island, so beach-wear is only appropriate when on the beach.

Source: Wayfaring

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