Sumba Island: 15 Best Places to Visit
Sumba Island lies to the east of Bali but strangely enough most visitors don’t take the time to visit. Those who do make the trip here are usually surfers, as Sumba has a surprising surf scene that many people don’t even realize exists. Coupled with its pounding waves, Sumba also serves up some gorgeous azure waters and white sands, and the most amazing things about the beaches here is that you will probably be left to enjoy them on your own.
As if that wasn’t a good enough reason to visit Sumba, you can also take the opportunity to learn more about the local culture which allows you a fascinating look at structures like megalithic tombs that house the remains of members of the royal family. The traditions and even the houses are different from much of the rest of Indonesia and if you are interested in seeing a different side of this massive archipelago then this is one spot not to miss.
Other attractions in Sumba are usually of the natural variety, and you can expect pretty hillsides, limpid lakes, and some impressive waterfalls particularly inside the newly created national parks that sit on the island. Certainly if you are a nature lover then Sumba has a huge amount to offer, and it is easily reached by taking a boat or plane across from Bali or any of the neighbouring islands like Lombok.
Here are the 15 best places to visit in Sumba…
Weekuri Lake is located just 45 minutes away from Tamolaka Airport in Southwest Sumba so it’s one of the easiest places to visit if you are only in town for a short time.
The lake is actually a saltwater lagoon that is filled with water from the neighbouring sea and it sparkles with an amazing emerald hue under the sun. If you want to go swimming in the lake then you may be disappointed as the water is not very deep but you can paddle around providing you watch out for the pretty coral that grows here.
If possible try to come here at sunset and take in this amazing natural phenomenon with the glow of the sun on the water.
Waingapu is the largest town in Sumba but don’t expect it to be anything like a city set-up. More of a sleepy enclave than anything else, Waingapu has a wealth of delights such as its classic Night Market which runs along the old wharf and is one of the best places to get something to eat cheaply.
The market consists of some little cafes as well as some street food stalls where you can get cheap plates of seafood like fish and fried rice dishes.
Another highlight in Waingapu is the handicrafts such as Ama Tukang workshop which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about ikat (traditional weaving).
Tarimbang Beach should be far more famous than it is and you will find it in East Sumba close to Waingapu. The beach consists of clear blue waters and clean sands and the scenery that surrounds it is equally stunning.
On a visit here you can expect to be impressed by the magnificent cliffs and rock formations here and thanks to the pounding waves here surfing is a popular pastime at this beach.
Kampung Tarung is a traditional little village in the Waikabubak region of Sumba and guests are welcome to visit to see how people have lived here for centuries.
On a visit to the village you can learn how people work on the land in Sumba as well as get an insight into the local traditions in this part of Indonesia.
The village also produces a range of local handicrafts, many of which are fashioned from animal horn, and which make great gifts or souvenirs. Any purchases also help to support the local community and keep these rich handicraft traditions alive.
Kodi is a region that lies in the west of Sumba and is known for its main village which is called Bandokodi.
One reason to visit is to check out the traditional houses and their ornately carved roofs that soar into the sky as well as use it as a springboard point to explore other areas such as Pero and Waikabubak.
Marosi Beach is known for being one of the prettiest spots in West Sumba and this is also a great place to come for anyone who likes to surf. Some visitors are surprised by the surf scene in Sumba although those in the know have been coming here for years to enjoy the waves.
This beach is covered in white sand that stretches into turquoise waters and the beach is also surrounded by greenery which makes it feel even more like a paradise island.
Surfers can enjoy rolling waves here which are usually pretty consistent compared to other parts of Sumba where the sea can sometimes be flat as a pancake.
Air Terjun Lapopu
This stunning waterfall lies in the Wanokaka area in the west of Sumba and is considered one of the most amazing waterfalls in Indonesia which well deserves high praise indeed.
The waterfall is known locally as the ‘Niagara of Indonesia’ and the waters gush from a height of 90 metres into a river below.
The entrance to the waterfall is somewhat hidden but you can easily get a guide to show you the right way and it is more than worth it to see the powerful jets of water tumbling down the mountainside.
Waikabubak is also considered one of the central hubs in Sumba although in reality it is more a loose collection of little villages that sit in the middle of emerald fields encircled by pretty rolling hills. One of the big draws here are the amazing megalithic stone graves for which Sumba is famous. Venture out from Waikabubak into the smaller villages that surround it such as Kampung Tarung if you are in the mood to explore.
Mandorak Beach backs onto a pretty lagoon and is located close to Weekuri Lake. The water here is a striking shade of turquoise and the beach is lined with powdery white sand making it a great place to sunbathe and relax as you take in the views.
You can also swim here as the waters are clear and calm and you are unlikely to be bothered by crowds although you may see the occasional fishing boat drive past as fishing is one of the main industries in this area.
The beach is small but this adds to the charm and this is also one of the cleanest beaches in the area so it is well work seeking out.
Sumba Cultural Conservation and Learning Institute
If you want to find out more about the culture in Sumba then head to the Cultural conservation and Learning Institute which is located in Sumba Barat Daya.
This museum has a range of galleries dedicated to showcasing artifacts from different tribal communities in Sumba and you will also find some reconstructions of traditional houses as well as ornate tombstones from the days of old that could weigh a massive 30 tons!
One of the other big draws at the museum is that they also offer trips out to visit some of the local villages if you want to see how people have lived in Sumba for centuries.
Pero Village and Surf Spot
Pero is a delightful village in Sumba although it is only that- a small village which has a single homestay in it. People continue to come here however for the surfing and this is actually one of the most famous backpacker haunts in Sumba.
The main reason to come here is to enjoy the beach and the surf and you can also rent a scooter here and explore the many twisting roads that run around the village and will take you past epic scenery filled with lush valleys and jade-green hills.
Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park
Photo credit: Simon Onggo, pinterest
Nature lovers absolutely shouldn’t miss this national park in Sumba which is the best place to come if you want to see a whole host of plants, trees, and exotic animals. The plant life here is exquisite and you will find a range of protected species that are native to this part of Sumba.
There are also several rare and endangered species of animals here such as crab-eating macaques, pythons, and Sumba green pigeons.
Also not to be missed in the park is the towering centrepiece in the form of the Waingapu Waterfall.
Sumba has several traditional villages that you can visit and another one of these is Ratenggaro Authentic Village which is situated in Kodi Province.
On a tour of the village, you can check out the local houses which legend has it were built without the use of a single nail and are slotted together with pieces of bamboo. You can also pick up some traditional handicrafts in the form of instruments, boxes, or carved statues and these make great souvenirs of your trip out to the village.
One of the big draws at the village is that it is located close to a cliff overlooking the ocean which is studded with monolithic burial sites. There are also some tombs of members of the former royal family here.
Sumba Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park
One of the main national parks in Sumba is the Sumba Menupeu Tanah Daru National Park which is made up of towering hills that soar up to 600 metres in height.
The park teems with flora and fauna including 118 types of rare plants and 87 different species of birds. Of these you will also find 7 indigenous species including the Sumba flycatcher, apricot-crested sunbird, and the Sumba green pigeon. There are also Sumba hornbills that live in the park as well as an amazing 57 species of colourful butterflies meaning that nature lovers won’t be disappointed on a trip here.
Some spots to look out for in the park include the Matayangu Waterfall and Waimanu Village.
Watu Malado Beach
Watu Malado Beach is one of the most breathtaking beaches in Sumba and consists of craggy cliffs which give way to clean sands and clear seas.
The different kinds of colourful coral here are spectacular and one thing to look out for here is the large rock formations that are scattered along the sand including one particularly impressive graceful arc.
In the day time you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing but one of the best things to do is come here at sunset to watch the sun drop below the horizon across the glittering water.
Visiting Sumba Island is not an escape from everyday life. It is the return to a life well-lived, where rugged luxury meets unregulated freedom; a place to connect with something larger than oneself. A haven for the adventurer, for the wanderer; the endlessly passionate and curious. Arrive with an open heart and leave changed forever.
Banner photo source: sumba.land