Taliwang

Taliwang

Taliwang

It may be the regional capital and transport hub, but Taliwang is just a small, conservative village, 30km south of Poto Tano. There’s a BRI Bank with ATM on the main road, a few internet cafes, plenty of Padang-food warungs, and no reason to hang around.

Buses go from Taliwang to Poto Tano (15,000Rp) almost hourly, where you can hop on a bus to Mataram or Sumbawa Besar. Hourly bemo head to Maluk (20,000Rp, two hours).

Poto Tano

Poto Tano

Click to Enlarge !

Poto-Tano_ton-800

Poto Tano, the main port for ferries to/from Lombok, is a ramshackle harbour, fringed by stilt-fishing villages with tremendous views of Gunung Rinjani. Pretty place, but there’s no need to sleep here.

Ferries run every 45 minutes, 24 hours a day, between Labuhan Lombok and Poto Tano (22,000Rp, 1½ hours). You can also bring your hired car (352,000Rp) or motorcycle (85,000Rp). Through buses from Mataram to Sumbawa Besar or Bima include the ferry fare.

Buses meet the ferry and go to Taliwang (15,000Rp, one hour) and Sumbawa Besar (25,000Rp, two hours), though some demand the entire Mataram–Sumbawa Besar fare (70,000Rp).

Tambora

Tambora

Click to Enlarge !

Tambora--800

Looming over central Sumbawa is the 2850m volcano, Gunung Tambora. Its peak was obliterated during the epic eruption in April 1815, which buried residents alive, killed tens of thousands, affected weather everywhere (the following year was known as ‘the year without a summer’ as the sun was muted worldwide) and forever altered the region’s geography. Tambora, not deforestation, is the reason that the oldest trees on Moyo are under 200 years old. In 2004, University of Rhode Island and Indonesian vulcanologists unearthed bronze bowls and ceramic pots from a Pompeii-like village, which indicate that the region once had strong trading links with Vietnam and Cambodia.

But you’re here to bag the peak. From the summit you’ll have spectacular views of the 6km-wide caldera, which contains a two-coloured lake, and endless ocean vistas that stretch as far as Gunung Rinjani (Lombok). The base for ascents is the village of Pancasila near the town of Calabai on the western slope, which is five hours by a very crowded bus from Dompu (35,000Rp), two hours by wooden boat (250,000Rp plus petrol), or two hours by speedboat from Air Bairi, 20km northeast of Sumbawa Besar (1,000,000Rp). From Calabai take a benhur (15,000Rp) or ojek (25,000Rp) to Pancasila, where guides and porters (100,000Rp each per day) can be arranged. Due to trail conditions, it can only be climbed in the dry season (June to October). The hike takes about two days.

Moyo

Moyo

Moyo

A gently arcing crescent of jungled volcanic rock, Moyo – all 36,000 hectares of it – floats atop the gorgeous azure seas north of Sumbawa Besar. The same size as Singapore, it has almost no commercial development and is peopled by just five small villages. The majority of the island, and its rich reefs, form a nature reserve laced with hiking and biking trails, dripping with waterfalls and offering some of the best diving west of Komodo. Loggerhead and green turtles hatch on the beaches, long-tail macaques patrol the canopy, and wild pigs, barking deer and a diverse bird population all call Moyo home.

Unfortunately, accommodation is limited to just one expensive (like ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’ expensive) resort, but it is possible to visit Moyo on a day trip.

Head to Pantai Goa (don’t let the name fool you) 8km west of the city centre (10,000Rp by ojek) and charter a speedboat (1,500,000Rp, two hours, up to four passengers). Or hop on a public bemo (9000Rp, one hour) to Air Bari, 20km northeast of Sumbawa Besar, and charter a boat (1,000,000Rp, one hour) from there. There are four bemo a day to Air Bari. They leave from the turn-off at the far end of Jl Sudirman.

The boats will take you to snorkelling spots Air Manis, and Tanjung Pasir (the better of the two). Good reefs with a plunging wall can be found all around the island if you are prepared to charter your boat for a bit longer. Just northeast of Pulau Moyo is small Pulau Satonda, which also has good beaches and tremendous snorkelling. It’s three hours by boat from Air Bari.

There are only two ways to dive at Pulau Moyo. You can join a Bali- or Lombok-based, Komodo-bound liveaboard or check in to the luscious Amanwana, the swankiest dive camp on the planet. There are worse fates.

The seas around Moyo get turbulent from December to March. If boat operators are hesitant to launch, they have good reason.

Sape

Sape

Click to Enlarge !

Sape_ton-800

It’s got a tumbledown port-town vibe, perfumed with the conspicuous scent of drying cuttlefish. The outskirts are quilted in rice fields backed by jungled hills, and the streets are busy with benhur and bustling with early morning commerce. There’s decent food and doable lodging here too, so if you are catching a morning ferry, consider this an alternative to Bima.

There’s a PHKA Komodo Information Office 500m inland from the port with a few brochures and maps.

Sape’s best lodging option is Losmen Mutiara, right next to the port gates. Rooms are reasonably clean. The smiling ladies of Rumah Makan Citra Minang bring Padang’s finest and spiciest dishes to life. The cracked concrete floor and water-stained walls betray the quality and flavour of the food.

Maluk, Rantung & Sekongkang

Maluk, Rantung & Sekongkang

Click to Enlarge !

Sekongkang_tone-800

As you continue south, the beaches and bays try to outdo one another. Your first stop is the working-class commercial district of Maluk, 30km south of Taliwang. Yes, the town is ugly, but the beach is superb. The sand is a blend of white and gold, and the bay is buffered by two headlands. There’s good swimming in the shallows, and when the swell hits, the reef further outside sculpts perfect barrels.

One of the world’s largest copper mines, about 30km inland of Maluk, has driven a wave of development and attracted international and domestic staff from the US, Australia and Java to the area. The Newmont Mining Corporation employs about 8000 workers, and had a huge impact on Maluk when it first opened, but most of the expat restaurant and bar traffic has now shifted to Townside, a private company enclave complete with health club, golf courses and the best hospital in Sumbawa. You need a personal invitation to breach the gates, but you can arrange one with a week’s notice. Some spill-over still trickles into Maluk, along with a pinch of the nearly US$1.6 billion in annual mining proceeds. There’s a BNI bank with ATM on Jl Raya Maluk, adjacent to the Trophy Hotel. Just north, Warnet BW offers broadband access. The fun beachside marketplace is packed with warungs selling everything from soto ayam (chicken soup) to cappuccinos, juices and ikan bakar (grilled fish).

Directly south of Maluk, within walking distance of the beach (though it is a long walk) is Supersuck, consistently rated as the best ‘left’ in the world. Surfers descend regularly from Hawaii’s North Shore to surf here, which should tell you something, and many lifelong surfers have proclaimed it the finest barrel of their lives. It really pumps in the dry season (May to October).

About 15km further south, the spread-out settlement of Sekongkang includes three superb beaches with another handful of surf breaks. It also has the best range of accommodation and a gorgeous all-natural vibe. Pantai Rantung, 2km downhill from Sekongkang Atas, spills onto a secluded and majestic bay framed by 100m-high headlands. The water is crystal-clear and waves roll in year-round at Yo Yo’s, a right break at the north end of the bay. Hook, which breaks at the edge of the northern bluff, is also a terrific right. Supershit, breaks straight in front of the Rantung Beach Hotel, and is a consistent year-round beginner’s break, but gets heavy and delivers a long left when the swell comes in. The next bay down is where you’ll find Tropical, another phenomenal beach (named for the resort) and home to great left and right breaks that beginners would enjoy.

As you head north again toward Maluk, hang a right at the new government building in Sekongkang, down a degrading dirt road, through a stream, and under a bridge until it dead ends. Park, cross the river to your left, then follow the trail up for 20 minutes and you’ll discover a hidden waterfall home to dozens of dragonflies. Better get wet!

North of Rantung is Pantai Lawar, a tree-shaded stretch of white sand on a turquoise lagoon sheltered by volcanic bluffs draped in jungle. When the surf is flat, come here to swim, snorkel or spearfish.

Hu’u & Pantai Lakey

Hu’u & Pantai Lakey

Click to Enlarge !

huu-800

Pantai Lakey, a gentle crescent of golden sand 3km south of Hu’u, is where Sumbawa’s tourist pulse beats, thanks to seven world-class surf breaks that curl and crash in one massive bay. Lakey Peak and Lakey Pipe are the best-known waves and are within paddle distance of the various hotels and bungalow properties. You’ll need to rent a motorbike or hire an ojek to get to Nungas, Cobblestone, and Nangadoro. Periscope is 150m from the sand at the far north end of the bay near Maci Point, another good spot. Most surfers share the cost of a boat (700,000Rp, maximum five people) to get there and back. Waves can be very good (and very big) year-round, but the most consistent swell arrives between June and August. From August to October the wind gusts, which turns Pantai Lakey into Indonesia’s best kite-surfing destination – regarded as one of the 10 best in the world. Kites are banned from Lakey Peak, but they descend on Lakey Pipe and Nungas when it’s pumping.

Inexperienced surfers should take good care. Waves break over a shallow reef, and serious accidents do happen. Jimmy Anwar runs the local lifeguard station, which he founded.

Hu’u is a small, poor, but very friendly fishing village, 3km north of Lakey. It’s suffused with the scent of drying fish and blessed with breathtaking pink sunsets. When the swell gets really big, there’s a beach break here, as well.

Bima & Raba

Bima & Raba

Bima_to

East Sumbawa’s largest metropolitan centre is a conservative Islamic place with one mediocre sight – the former sultan’s palace, and it’s nobody’s favourite getaway. The streets can be traffic choked, the architecture charmless and crumbling, and doing business here can feel like the hard sell Olympics. Still, if you keep your cool and get a room in one of Bima’s inviting new sleeps, you may find charm in the chaotic intensity of it all. Or, like most, you may flee to the waves at Lakey Peak or Labuanbajo and the Komodo National Park immediately.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/bima-and-raba

Sumbawa Besar

Sumbawa Besar

Click to Enlarge !

Sumbawa-Besar_to-800

Sumbawa Besar, often shortened to ‘Sumbawa’, is the principal market town of the island’s west. It’s leafy, devoutly Muslim (that legion of nearby karaoke bars notwithstanding), and runs on the bushels of beans, rice and corn cultivated on the outskirts. It’s also quite friendly and easy to navigate, but there’s not much to see here aside from the old palace, and a lively morning market. Trips to Pulau Moyo and to nearby villages are worthwhile but take time and money, which is why most travellers simply consider this town a respite on the trans-Sumbawa highway.

Traffic runs in a high-speed Jl Hasanuddin–Jl Diponegoro loop. The best sleeping and eating options are clustered along Jl Hasanuddin.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/sumbawa-besar

– Sumbawa

Places in Sumbawa

Sumbawa

Beautifully contorted and sprawling into the sea, Sumbawa is all volcanic ridges, terraced rice fields, jungled peninsulas and sheltered bays. The southwest coast is essentially a layered series of headlands and wide, silky white beaches with incredible surf. The southeast is no slouch. It’s also a bit more accessible, which explains why Lakey Peak has become Sumbawa’s premier year-round surf magnet. Massive, climbable Gunung Tambora (2850m), a mountain that exploded so large it forever influenced the climate and topography of the island, looms in the north.

Though well connected to Bali and Lombok, Sumbawa is a very different sort of place. It’s far less developed, much poorer, extremely conservative, and split between two distinct peoples. Those who speak Sumbawanese probably reached the west of the island from Lombok. Bimanese speakers dominate the Tambora Peninsula and the east. Although Sumbawa is an overwhelmingly Islamic island, in remote parts underground adat (traditional laws and regulations) still thrive. During festivals you may come across traditional Sumbawan fighting, a sort of bare-fisted boxing called berempah. Dynamic horse and water-buffalo races, best glimpsed in Bima each August, are held before the rice is planted.

Transport connections off the cross-island road are infrequent and uncomfortable, and most overland travellers don’t even get off the bus in Sumbawa as they float and roll from Lombok to Flores. For now, it’s the domain of surfers, miners and mullahs.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/sumbawa