Sumba is located in the east of Bali, but oddly, most tourists don’t take the time to visit. People who travel here are usually surfers, as Sumba has an amazing surf scene that many people don’t even realize exists. Combined with the rough waves, Sumba also offers some beautiful azure waters and white sands, and the most amazing thing about the beaches here is that you’ll probably enjoy them all by yourself.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to visit Sumba, you can also take the opportunity to learn more about the local culture, giving you a fascinating look at structures such as the megalithic mausoleums, which house the remains of members of the royal family. The traditions and even the houses are different from most of the rest of Indonesia, and if you are interested in seeing another side of this sprawling archipelago, this is an itinerary not to be missed.
The rest of Sumba’s attractions are usually natural, and you can expect beautiful hillsides, crystal clear lakes and some impressive waterfalls, especially in the island’s new national park. Of course, if you’re a nature lover, Sumba has plenty to offer and is easily accessible by boat or plane from Bali or any of the neighboring islands like Lombok.
Here are 15 of the best places to visit in Sumba…
1. Lake Wickory
Lake Waikuri is just 45 minutes from Tamoraka Airport in the southwest of Sumba, which means it’s one of the easiest places to visit if you’re only in town for a short time.
The lake is actually a saltwater lagoon filled with water from the adjacent sea, shimmering in stunning emerald hues in the sun.
If you want to go swimming in the lake then you might be disappointed as the water is not very deep but you can paddle but watch out for the beautiful coral that grows here.
If possible, try to come here at sunset to experience this amazing natural phenomenon while the sun shines on the water.
Waingapu is Sumba’s largest town, but don’t expect it to feel like a city setting.
More sleepy than anywhere else, Waingapu has an abundance of good food, such as its classic night market, which runs along the old pier and is one of the best places to get cheap food.
The market has some small cafes and some street food stalls where you can buy cheap seafood like fish and fried rice.
Another highlight of Waingapu is the handicrafts such as Ama Tukang Studio which will tell you all about ikat or traditional weaving.
3. Tallimbong Beach
Tallimbong Beach should be more famous than it is now, you will find it in East Sumba near Waingapu.
The beach is made up of crystal clear blue water and clean sand, and the surrounding scenery is equally stunning.
When visiting here, you can expect to be impressed by the magnificent cliffs and rock formations here, and surfing is a popular pastime on this beach thanks to the huge waves here.
4. Kampong Talong
Kampung Tarung is a small traditional village in the Waikabubak region of Sumba that welcomes guests to visit and learn how people have lived here for centuries.
When visiting the village, you can learn how people work on the land of Sumba and gain insight into the local traditions of this part of Indonesia.
The village also produces a range of local handicrafts, many of which are made from animal horns, making great gifts or souvenirs.
Any purchases also help support the local community and keep these craft traditions alive.
Cody is an area located in the west of Sumba Island, known for its main village called Bando Cody.
One reason to come here is to see the traditional houses with their ornate roofs soaring into the sky and use it as a starting point for exploring other areas such as Pero and Waikabubak.
6. Marossi Beach
Marosi Beach is known for being one of the most beautiful places in Western Sumba, and it’s a great place for anyone who likes to surf.
Some tourists are surprised by Sumba’s surfing scene, although those in the know have been coming here for years to enjoy the waves.
This beach is covered with white sand that turns into turquoise waters, and the beach is also surrounded by greenery, making it feel more like a paradise island.
Surfers can enjoy the rolling waves here, which are generally very consistent compared to the rest of Sumba, where the sea can sometimes be as flat as pancakes.
7. Air Terjun Lapopu
This stunning waterfall is located in the Wanokaka region of the west of Sumba Island and is considered to be one of the most amazing waterfalls in Indonesia and is indeed highly rated.
Locally known as the Niagara of Indonesia, the waterfall pours into the river below from a height of 90 meters.
The entrance to the falls is somewhat hidden, but you can easily get a guide to show you the right way, and it’s well worth seeing the powerful currents tumble down the hillside.
Waikabubak is also considered to be one of Sumba’s central hubs, although in reality it is more of a loose collection of small villages in the middle of emerald green fields surrounded by beautiful rolling hills. A big draw here is that you can check out the stunning megalithic tombs that Sumba is famous for, and then venture from Waikabubak into the small villages around it such as Kampung Tarung.
9. Mandolak Beach
Mandolak Beach is backed by a beautiful lagoon and is close to Lake Waikuri.
The water here is a striking turquoise color, and the beach is lined with powdery white sand, making it a great place to sunbathe and relax while admiring the view.
You can also swim here as the waters are clear and calm and you are less likely to be disturbed by crowds, although you may occasionally see fishing boats passing by as fishing is one of the main industries in the area.
The beach is small but that adds to the charm, and it’s also one of the cleanest in the area, so it’s good for job hunting.
10. Zomba Institute of Cultural Preservation and Learning
If you want to learn more about Sumba culture, head to the Institute for Cultural Preservation and Learning in Sumba Baradaya.
This museum has a series of galleries dedicated to artefacts from Sumba’s different tribal communities, and you’ll find reconstructions of some traditional houses as well as ornate tombstones from ancient times, weighing up to 30 tons.
Another great attraction of the museum is that they also offer tours to some of the local villages if you want to understand how people have lived on Sumba over the centuries.
11. Perot Village and Surf Spot
Pero is a delightful village in Sumba, even though it is a small village with only one host family.
However, people continue to come here to surf, and this is actually one of the most famous backpacker spots in Zomba.
The main reason to come here is to enjoy the beach and surf, you can also rent a motorbike here and explore the many winding roads that surround the village, taking you through epic scenery of lush valleys and verdant hills.
12. Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park
Nature lovers must not miss this national park in Sumba, the best place to go if you want to see a variety of plants, trees and exotic animals.
Plant life here is exquisite, and you’ll find a range of protected species native to this area of Sumba.
There are also several rare and endangered animals such as crab-eating macaques, pythons, and Sumba green pigeons.
Also not to be missed in the park is the towering central view in the form of Waingapu Falls.
13. Ratengaro Village
Sumba has several traditional villages that you can visit, another of which is Ratengaro Authentic Village in Kodi province.
While visiting the village, you can check out the local house, which is said to have been built without the use of a single nail and was sewn together with bamboo pieces.
You can also buy some traditional handicrafts in the form of musical instruments, boxes or carved statues, which are great souvenirs for your trip out of the village.
A highlight of the village is its proximity to a cliff overlooking the sea, which is lined with monolithic cemeteries.
There are also graves of some former royals here.
14. Sumba Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park
Sumba Menupeu Tanah Daru National Park is one of Sumba’s main national parks and consists of towering hills reaching 600 meters high.
The park is rich in flora and fauna, including 118 species of rare plants and 87 species of birds.
You’ll also find 7 native species including the Sumba Flycatcher, Almond-crowned Sunbird and Sumba Green Pigeon.
The park is also home to Zomba hornbills and an astonishing 57 species of colorful butterflies, meaning nature lovers won’t be disappointed with a trip here.
Highlights in the park include Matayangu Waterfall and Waimanu Village.
15. Huatu Marado Beach
Watu Malado Beach is one of Sumba’s most breathtaking beaches, made up of rugged cliffs that give way to clean sand and crystal clear sea.
The different kinds of colourful corals here are spectacular, and one thing to note here is the large rock formations scattered across the sand, including a particularly impressive graceful arc.
During the day you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing, but one of the best things to do is come here at sunset and watch the sun go down on the horizon and across the sparkling water.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Sumba, Indonesia
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