There’s so much more to Sumba Island than what meets the eye: The rugged coastline and exotic beaches. The unique traditions and rich history. The diverse cultures and isolated way of life.

While most of you probably know more about the remotely exotic places in Indonesia than half of Indonesians ourselves, there’s still a good chance that you haven’t heard about this one, yet.

If you reside in Bali (like we do,) you might have been travelling to its neigboring isles like the Nusas and Gilis before; but have you ever visited Sumba? If you haven’t, here is some facts about the region that might get your attention.

Sumba is one of the five poorest islands in Indonesia. As a result, life for the Sumbanese people isn’t easy as the rural areas lack clean water, proper housing, and adequate healthcare and education.

A sad reality is that when children reach an age where they can assist with work at home, this becomes a priority, and their schooling comes second. The Sumbanese live on their own crops and are unaffected by material wealth.

Sumba Island has recently become a hotspot for local tourists. Indonesians have begun to explore Sumba to escape the hordes of travelers that vacation at the more popular islands. International tourists are following suit and discovering the breathtaking natural landscapes of Sumba that are unspoilt by development.

Sumba Island or Pulau Sumba in Bahasa Indonesia, is an island in eastern Indonesia. It is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Sumba has an area of 11,006.62 square kilometres (4,249.68 square miles), and the population was estimated to be 805,716 in mid 2019.

To the northwest of Sumba is Sumbawa, to the northeast, across the Sumba Strait (Selat Sumba), is Flores, to the east, across the Savu Sea, is Timor, and to the south, across part of the Indian Ocean, is Australia.

The Sumbanese people speak a variety of closely related Austronesian languages and have a mixture of Austronesian and Melanesian ancestry. The largest language group is the Kambera language, spoken by a quarter of a million people in the eastern half of Sumba.

Twenty-five to thirty percent of the population practices the animist Marapu religion. The remainder are Christian, a majority being Dutch Calvinist with a substantial minority being Roman Catholic. A small number of Sunni Muslims can be found along the coastal areas.

Sumba is famous for ikat textiles, particularly very detailed hand-woven ikat. The process of dying and weaving ikat is labor-intensive and one piece can take months to prepare.

If you are planning to visit Sumba, here are some places that you need to go to:
1. Tanggedu Waterfall, 26 kilometres from the East Sumba Regency’s capital city of Waingapu.
2. Puru Kambera Beach, 26 kilometres from Waingapu, a one-hour drive.
3. Tarimbang Bay, 120 kilometres from Waingapu, a three-hour drive, is a surfers paradise with 2- to 3-meter tall waves between June and September.
4. Watu Mandorak Cove, a white sandy beach with cliffs, a two-hour drive, and 42 kilometers from Tambolaka in the dry season. It takes longer and is not recommended in the rainy season.
5. The Sumba Hospitality Foundation is located in Sumba Barat Daya or Southwest Sumba. The Foundation is an organization dedicated to providing vocational education in hospitality to underprivileged students hailing from all across Sumba.

Wondering what’s the best way to get there? Well, Sumba is a big island, twice the size of Bali. It has 2 airports, one on the west, Tambolaka Airport, and another in the east, Waingapu Airport.

Make sure you know where you want to go before you book your flights to Sumba. The distance from one side of the island to the other is over 7 hours drive, and the price for a taxi to get between the two is more expensive than the flight ticket itself.

Airlines flying into Sumba from Bali include Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air, and Nam Air. Garuda Indonesia has the best track record whilst Nam Air is the more budget-friendly option.

The best time to visit Sumba is during the dry season which runs from May to October. You can also travel to Sumba during the rainy season from November to April but expect daily afternoon rain showers.

Now that you know how to get there and where to go when you get there, you might be wondering where you can stay during your visit there. The island’s most popular resort is the Nihi Sumba, which has been ranked as one of the world’s five best eco-hotels and was awarded the world’s best hotel of 2016 and 2017 from Travel + Leisure for its native ambiance and authentic local experience.

Despite its expensive rates, the resort has always been fully booked. Well, it might be a good idea to go during this time as it wouldn’t be full of people and you won’t have to wait for another year for a room there.

Have we convinced you to visit Sumba? We sure hope so! Please leave a comment if you have ever been there, or if you are planning to. Until next time, please stay safe and stay healthy.