Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia)

Languages: Indonesian

Currencies: IDR · Indonesian rupiah (Rp)

Capitol: Jakarta

Continents: Asia

Borders: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste

More useful information

Area: 1,904,569km2

Population: 273,523,621

Traffic/driving side: left

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +62

Timezones: UTC+07:00, UTC+08:00, UTC+09:00

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Last updated on March 17, 2024

Sumba is a stunning island – a true treasure for adventurous travelers, hidden away in the eastern part of Indonesia. The island is completely unknown for most people. With very little tourists the place remains pure wilderness with horses traversing ocean shores and savannah fields.

While many other Indonesian destinations like Bali, Java or Komodo have gained massive popularity among visitors –  Sumba has managed to maintain its authenticity almost in every way, making it the perfect destination for adventure enthusiasts, seeking a unique and exhilarating experience.

After exploring the island by a motorbike, private car and public transport I have put together this Sumba travel guide to help you locate all the highlights of this island. 

Sumba travel guide – top 12 unique things to see in forgotten Indonesian paradise island.

Sumba travel guide - top things to see on the island.

There are so many amazing things to see in this forgotten paradise. I was fascinated by its natural beauty and landscape diversity, ranging from rolling savannah hills to white sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and lush forests. You can hike hidden waterfalls, canyons, green hills or explore dramatic cliffs overlooking the sparkling ocean.

What really captured my heart were absolutely lovely and warm Sumbese people, unique ancient rituals and tribal traditions, that have been preserved for thousands of years. 

While Sumba remains one of the poorest Indonesian islands, road and tourist infrastructure is not well developed and traveling around the island may be a little challenging. Check my full guide for solo travelers on How to travel around Sumba in Indonesia.

How to travel to Sumba?

Sumba Island lies in the East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia – only 1 HOUR flight from BALI.

It’s located east direction from Bali and south direction from Flores.

There are TWO ways to get to Sumba Island – by air and by sea.

FLIGHT. The best way to reach the island is by flying into one of the two airports: Tambolaka Airport (TMC) on the west or Waingapu Airport on the east.

Both airports have regular flights from major Indonesian cities such as Jakarta, Bali, and Kupang. Flights are really cheap if you book them in advance, check for best deals. I booked return flight (NAM Air) from Bali a week in advance for less than 100$. The flight is only 50 minutes. Other local airlines: Wings Air, Citilink (Airportia).

If you arrived in Tambolaka Airport there’s Hotel Pasola located 3 minutes walk from the airport exit. The hotel rooms are very decent and one of the cheapest on the island. I stayed there for 2 nights to organize my travel itinerary.

FERRY. The cheapest way to get from Bali to Sumba is by ferry but it takes 2 days. The costs is around: Rp450000 – Rp600000.

Don’t forget to get your medical insurance, I highly recommend SafetyWing /which also covers adventure sports/. 

Best time to visit Sumba Island.

The best time to visit Sumba Island is in dry season from May to October.

Rainy season falls from November to April. However, I was there in March and there was very little rain, mainly short showers in the afternoon. Locals told me 2024 was extremely dry comapring to previous years. Small rainfall affected rice planting, which unfortunately might increase a level of hunger in poorest parts of Indonesia.

Motorbike rental in Sumba Island.

Local people are more than friendly, they will help you out with anything they can. I asked in Pasola Hotel for motorbike rental and they gave me Adriana’s number – a lovely, smart local lady, who speaks English and will deliver a motorbike to your place. Adriana: +62 813 8478 8440. The price is around 150Rp/per day.

Private tour and guide in Sumba.

Since the island is has almost no tourist services, I heard the prices of private tours are insane. I couldn’t belive when I was reading online some people paid $1500 for a 4-day private tour. In this Sumba travel guide I’m giving you few options to explore the island affordable ways. A private driver/guide should not cost you more than $100/per day! 

While I was adventurously exploring the island on my motorbike, I managed to meet Berto – a wonderful local, who took me for a few days trip around Sumba. He knows everything about the island, its highlights, traditions and will be able to take you to every corner of this wild paradise (we didn’t visit some waterfalls, due to poor roads conditions in rainy season). I couldn’t have a better company for this trip. Berto is extremely good in what he does, but he doesn’t speak English and he will not guide you to hidden waterfalls. For this adventure you need to hire a local guide. In terms of communication, we managed to speak via translators, which worked perfectly fine. If you want to get in touch with Berto I’m leaving his number: +62 813 5353-2312. Just whatsapp him with any tour request. 

Car rental: approx. 1.000.000Rp/per day without a driver, 1.300.000Rp with a driver/per day.

There are few very affordable options available to book online with Klook /I have been using Klook all over Asia and their service was spectacular/.

TO EXPLORE WEST PART OF SUMBA JOIN 2 days/1 night West Sumba Private Tour.

TO TRAVEL AROUND THE ISLAND CHOOSE 4 days/3 nights Overland Sumba Private Tour. You need at least 4 days to drive around the island due to poor road conditions.

Is Sumba expensive?

Sumba is quite undeveloped, you will not be able to find all the services that are widely available in Bali and other Indonesian islands. For that reason it is better to organize some things in advance:

Accommodation: Less options and more expensive than in Bali. When it comes to accommodation, Sumba offers a range of options from luxurious beachfront resorts to eco-friendly lodges in the heart of nature. I booked all my stays on as it offers most options and good range of different type of stays. Book your place in advance, surprisingly in March /still rainy season/ quite a lot of bungallow villas were booked out.

Motorbike rental: There are only few motorbike rentals in Sumba, rental price ~ 150.000Rp/per day – make sure a motorbike is in a good condition.

Food: Cheaper than Bali but don’t expect many fancy restaurants. Coconut: 10.000Rp or more near beach areas. 

Shops: small shops are available around the island.

ATMs: At the airports and major cities. Card payments are only accepted in major cities and resorts. 

What to bring?

  • SIM CARD – helps a lot – first universal SIM card and free app for travelers. Wifi even in hotels is quite weak, if you want to move around you 100% need SimCard with data.
  • SUN LOTION – Minimum filter 50, difficult to get in Sumba.
  • There is NO GRAB and no taxis. 
Fascinating war games and blood behind Pasola Festival in Sumba Island.

Best things to see in the west part of Sumba.

If Tambolaka Airport was your arrival town, it’s a perfect gateaway to explore the west part of the island. First thing I did I went on a motorbike to explore the area. There is a small port just 15 minutes from the airport with a completely empty paradise beach on the north side. 

Complete guide on how to travel around Sumba for solo travelers – explore unique Indonesia.

1. Weekuri Lagoon (Waikuri Lagoon).

Weekuri Lagoon is located 50-60 minutes from Tambilaka by a motorbike or a car. Take the coastal road, which is the best possible way to reach the lagoon. This is a perfect place for a half-day trip, where you can cool off, relax and swim in a crystal-clear saltwater lagoon surrounded by limestone cliffs. You can go snorkeling exploring the underwater world. 

Best stays in north-west Sumba.

Here are few recommendations for stays in the north-west coast of Sumba:


2. Nihiwatu Beach.

It’s a beautiful beach and world-class surfing spot. They inspire to be the most amazing beach of the island but sorry guys, no chance for this, there are much more stunning beaches on the south cost of Sumba. Nihiwatu beach has become famous for two reasons – exclusive beach resort Nihi Sumba and wild horses swimming in the waves, which I agree is a very unique picture.

3. Pantai Watu Bella.

Most beautiful things are not easy to reach! Getting to Pantai Watu Bella is quite challenging but trust me it’s worth it. We are talking about the most beautiful beach on the island famous for white rock formations. It’s exceptional in every way, there are small bungallows where you can rest after swimming and drink coconut being accompanied by buffaloes 😉

4. Kampung Prai Ljing traditional Village.

Kampung Prai Ljing is an exceptional looking, unique in its buildings, traditional village in Sumba. You absolutely cannot miss this Megalithic village in West Sumba. There is an entrance of 35.000Rp ~2USD (including parking fee as I remember/or maybe even less).

The village has opened up for tourists few years ago, now you can walk up the hill exploring the village and taking closer look at the original settlements. You will also notice stone burial tombs in the village.

Sumba travel guide – top 12 unique things to see in forgotten Indonesian paradise island.

5. Ratenggaro Traditional Village.

Ratenggaro is one of the most visited traditional village in Sumba, with their unique thatched-roof houses.

However in my opinion Kampung Prai Ljing is much more original and unique.

Both villages are a great place to observe local way of life, traditional ceremonies and intricate hand-woven textiles. Sumbese people are extremely friendly, you’ll have a chance to interact with the villagers and learn about their traditions. 

6. Lapopu Waterfall.

Lapopu Waterfall is an hour drive from Waikabubak town. This majestic waterfall cascades down from a height of 50 meters. You would need to hike through lush tropical forest to reach the waterfall, which is surrounded by really stunning natural scenery and refreshing natural pool at its base.

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Recommended stays in south-west Sumba:

7. Bendungan Waikelo Sawah Waterfall.

It’s very easy to get to the waterfall, car parking is just next to the entrance (there is no fee). Maybe it is not the most spectacular waterfall in Sumba (especially in rainy season) but the scenery is beautiful and you will be able to see lots of buffaloes. 

Kodi tribe.

Kodi is a region with traditional villages, where you can experience the authentic rural life of the locals. This is the main place where you can see exceptional Pasola Festival.

8. Experience Pasola Festival.

The Pasola festival is one of the most famous and significant traditional festivals celebrated in Sumba. 

This is one of the most fascinating festivals you can witness on this planet. It’s a violent war spectacle deeply rooted in the island’s rich heritage. Imagine that Sumba people have been living on this island for thousands of years, some sources say even back to Neolithic times around 4000bc. 

Pasola Festival – traditional spear-throwing ritual takes place annually in February or March in West and South-west Sumba. This ancient ritual involves a thrilling horseback battle between two rival clans (two groups of men from different villages). Read more about these Fascinating war games and blood behind Pasola Festival in Sumba.

Sumba Timur - east part of the island.

You will be probably taking the road from Waikabubak toward Sumba Timur, leading through the middle of the island. Sumba Timur starts from Lewa town. It’s a completely different landscape than west part of the island. 

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9. Tarimbang Beach.

Tarimbang Beach is undoubtedly one of the best places in Sumba but again it is not easy to reach. But its beautiful white sandy shores and turquoise waters makes it a wanted destination for a half-day beach adventure.

Best stays near Waingapu.

I stayed in Padadita Beach Hotel – really comfy hotel rooms, tasty restaurant food and amazing pool facilities, especially at sunset time. 

Similar accommodation standard offers Morinda Villa and Resto or Hars Garden Sumba. You can browse all accommodation options on

10. Bukit Wairinding.

Bukit Wairinding is absoluetly amazing panoramic green hills landscape. It is located 25 kilometres from Waingapu. You can take a horse ride and even rent traditional Sumba clothing. I made sure the horse is not overworked and treated well (cutiepie!). 

11. Pantai Walakiri - famous dancing trees.

Pantai Walakiri is a beautiful tropical beach, spreading for few kilometres east direction. It is best known for unique mangroves, which look like dancing trees /very famous Instagram sunset shots/. However, check the tide before you go, as you might not get the same picture. 

Anyway, the beach is lovely with plenty of cosy bungallows where you can relax with a coconut.

12. Tanggedu Waterfall – the Grand Canyon of East Sumba.

Tanggedu Waterfall – the Grand Canyon is located near Tanggedu Village, only 50 kilometres from Waingapu but the drive will take 1.5-2 hours due to poor road condition. Check in my Sumba travel guide – Hiking Tanggedu Waterfall in East Sumba.

From the parking place you will have a chance to take a motorbike ride to the canyon or trek for about 20 minutes. I would definitely recommend walking, the trail is easy and leads through a beautiful hilly scenery.

Savannah landscape.

On the way, you’ll be able to witness breathtaking savannah landscape, it’s a mix of green hills beauty and tranquility of Savanna Puru Kambera, where you can easily spot wild horses.

Water activities in Sumba.

Surfing, diving and snorkeling.

The surrounding waters are teeming with vibrant marine life, making it a great snorkeling and diving experience. However, the turquise waters are usually affected by strong currents so snorkeling would be more enjoyable in places like Weekuri Lagoon on the west coast.

Swimming with Whale Sharks.

Interacting with one of the largest creatures in the ocean is unforgettable experience. I have recently went for a diving and snorkeling adventure in Oslob/Philippines and it was memorable experience – if you want to check Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cebu.

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Where to go next?

Once you’re done exploring Sumba, there are few amazing Indonesian destinations nearby you cannot miss:

  • Flores & Labuan Bajo – can be easily reached with Speed Boat tours.
  • Komodo Islands – explore with this top rated highly popular One Day Komodo Trip.
  • Explore Bali.
Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!