Sumbawa is one of the 13,000 plus islands in the Indonesian archipelago. It is a large island to the east of Bali and Lombok. Sumbawa, along with Lombok, is part of West Nusa Tenggara. There a hundreds of small islands in this area in addition to the two major islands.

Sumbawa is known to some tourists for its great waves and sandy white beaches. Due to the somewhat trying process of getting there and the scarcity of cheap tourist facilities, the island is not visited much by non-surfing tourists which is unfortunate as parts of the island are quite beautiful.


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Sumbawa really belongs more to Eastern Indonesia than to the West. The effects of Hindu and Buddhist cultures are minimal in Sumbawa; the majority of the population are Muslims.

During the dry season (April to November) a lot of dust is blown up and around. Strong winds blow in off the ocean, and the lush green hills, mountains and valleys turn a dusty brown. When the rainy season begins an amazing transformation takes place and the island becomes a lush jungle once again.

As most of the island is still developing, there is a very rural feel to just about everything, including Sumbawa Besar, the capital of the western side of the island. The mining company, Newmont, has a gold and copper mine down in the southwestern corner of the island around the villages of Sekongkang, Maluk and Benete. Their presence has speeded up the development process in this side of the island.

Bahasa Indonesia is spoken widely in Sumbawa.

Get in

Sumbawa is considered somewhat remote even by Indonesian standards, and an overland-and-sea journey from Bali takes 15 hours beginning in Singaraja, Bali, and ending up in Poto Tano, the port on the western side of Sumbawa.

By plane

Only the cities of Sumbawa Besar on the western side of the island and Bima on the eastern side of the island have regular air service. Merpati and Transnusa fly to both cities from Denpasar (Bali) and Lombok about four times a week. Sekongkan also has an airport, but flights have been stopped for an indefinite period after a small airline called Tropical Air ceased operating.

By ferry

To get to Sumbawa from Bali most people take the ferry from Bali to Lombok, travel overland to the eastern seaport in Lombok (Labuhan Lombok) and then take another ferry to Sumbawa, ending up in Poto Tano.

In the other directions, ferries from Labuanbajo, Flores travel to Sape. These do not leave every day and you may face a several day wait for the next one.

Get around

Transportation on Sumbawa is problematic, and it's best to book ferries and buses as combined tickets, or you may get stranded in port for an indefinite time trying to get onward.


Ikan Bakar (barbequed fish) at the sole warung located at Telok Santong on the road between Sumbawa Besar and Bima In Maluk the Ikan Bakar at Warung Cotok Lamongan is equally good. Choose your own fish from the cool case, sit and have a drink and 15 minutes later you'll be in seventh heaven! In Taliwang try Ayam Taliwang, a dish now famous in other parts of Indonesia but beware - it's pedas! (spicy)


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