What to do in Sumba Island


What to do in Sumba Island

Sumba island is one of three big islands of East Nusa Tenggara (Flores Island, Timor Island and Sumba Island). Although I had visited Flores and Timor, I had never been to Sumba. Part of the reason is that it’s so isolated, which makes it that bit more expensive and harder to get to.

Still, a visit to Sumba Island has been on my ‘to do list’ for a while. When I was in Timor and heard two of my friends were planning to go to Sumba Island I decided that right then that it was the right time to visit the island. Here I would like to share some basic information about Sumba tourism with you and hopefully I can somehow help you plan your trip. Let’s start with this Sumba travel guide!

Where is Sumba Island?

Don’t get confused between Sumba island and Sumbawa. It is so easy to get mixed up, but they are two totally different islands. While Sumbawa is part of West Nusa Tenggara (together with Lombok), Sumba is part of East Nusa Tenggara (together with Timor and Flores).

Sumba is divided into four regencies. There is East Sumba, West Sumba, Central Sumba and Southwest Sumba. The most popular and developed regencies for tourism are Southwest and West Sumba. Hotels in East and Central Sumba are more limited and the transport infrastructure is less developed.

How to Get to Sumba

There are two airports on the island of Sumba, one in East Sumba and the other in Southwest Sumba. The airport is East Sumba is Umbu Mehang Kunda. It was previously known as Mau Hau and is located in the town of Waingapu. The airport in Southwest Sumba is called Tambolaka.

Direct flight to Sumba island is only available from two cities, Denpasar (Bali) and Kupang (Timor). If you want to visit Sumba from anywhere else in Indonesia you will have to transit through one of these two cities first.

A number of airlines fly to Sumba, including Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and Sriwijaya Air. If you want to fly with Garuda Indonesia then you will need to fly to Tambolaka Airport.

Travelling Around Sumba

Transportation in Sumba island is limited. You can travel with local buses between the major urban centers. While this is cheap, the service is limited (like super limited). Maybe only 2-3 times I saw a bus pass (it was an old bus). Alternatively, you can arrange a private car or motorbike rental.

My advice would be to hire a car and driver to help you to explore Sumba. While it is possible to rent a car without a driver, you will have a hard time navigating. The signs in Sumba, especially for tourism destinations, are not very good. Plus mobile signal on the island either does not exist or is very limited.

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