In the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Flores Sea, lies the island of Sumbawa. It’s a magical island, beautiful, traditional…and one of Indonesia’s best preserved. The warm, turquoise waters surrounding it are an inviting 32 C.
Surfers and divers have been coming here since the 1960s; it’s a mecca for both sports. They stay for months, returning lean, tan and relaxed. When their friends back home ask where they’ve been, they often lie and say Bali…
This island’s days as a secret paradise are coming to an end. Maritime protection treaties and festivals celebrating all things Sumbawan have put it on tourist radars. But you can still get here before it goes too mainstream.
Sumbawa’s north and central coasts are where the diving, snorkelling and swimming take place. The south and southwest of the island are where the surfers head.
The north coast also has the capital, Sumbawa Besar, with its airport. But don’t linger in the capital, the action is elsewhere…
The south and southwest have the big surf, and the tiny towns of Maluk, Luniuk and Sekongkang cater to the surfers, who arrive by the VW Kombi-load. This part of the island isn’t easy to reach, as many of the roads are unsealed. But the pickup trucks, which act as buses, and the four-wheel-drives, which attack the roads in low gear, will get you there.
Eastern Sumbawa is pristine, and the hikes in and around the area are simply stunning. Bima City—the island’s largest city, with a population of 148,000—is here. The Bima, as the locals call themselves, can trace their ancestry back to the 11th century.
There are two ways you can get to Sumbawa, Indonesia. Boats from Lombok Island are still a popular way in, landing at Poto Tano. It takes around an hour. You can also fly to the capital, Sumbawa Besar, as well as to Bima on the island’s east coast. Flight time from Bali is just under an hour.
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