Sumbawa – Your Guide to Indonesia’s Untouched Paradise
If you’re looking for an untouched paradise in Indonesia, look no further than West Sumbawa. You’ll find more locals than tourists and more cows than people. I’m not sure how much longer this will last so you might want to get here soon!
During Pierre’s first visit to Indonesia in 2010, he briefly touched foot on the island when crossing Sumbawa by bus to get to Komodo. When friends recommended that we check out West Sumbawa and stay at the Whales & Waves Resort, it didn’t take us much time to put the island on our itinerary.
While most people flock to Bali, the surfing community has been coming to West Sumbawa for decades due to it’s world-class waves. Lack of transport and good roads kept tourists at bay, however, that is changing now. See how to get to West Sumbawa below. Despite this, you can still easily find yourself alone on a pristine beach which is almost unheard of in Bali. We also had one of the most beautiful snorkeling experiences of our lives. (The best for Pierre was in Flores which you can read about here: Komodo Islands Diving Review.)
We weren’t in too much of a hurry to get when we first arrived at the resort. In fact, the resort had plenty of grounds to explore itself so that’s exactly what we did. We even met a friend who would end up being our guide while in Kertasari.
Later that evening, Pierre decided that this was the perfect place to try and capture the stars. He didn’t do so badly. What do you think?
The next morning we woke up with a mission: to get into the water before 8am when the light is the best for snorkeling! Apparently we weren’t the only ones who wanted to get into the water that morning. Clarissa didn’t hesitate to get into the water with us!
We took a Kayak built for two and started paddling towards a rock shaped formation. According to the Whales and Waves team, this was the best place to snorkel in such a close vicinity. I was absolutely blown away by the size and condition of the coral reefs here. Fish life was abundant and I hadn’t seen anything so pristine in my life.
Coming to West Sumbawa was the complete opposite of visiting Bali. We didn’t see another tourist in sight until we arrived at the resort. Driving along the coastline, it was easy to see why our friends had called this place a paradise. The beaches are full of white sand. The ocean invites you in with its transparent colors. And the mountains in the backdrop make for even more epic scenery. Bonus, on a clear day you can see Rijani Volcano on Lombok in the distance.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat at whales and waves, we headed off to explore other nearby attractions. The first of our stop was Air Terjun Semporon Tangkel Waterfall. We loved visiting this waterfall because of all the locals who were clearly enjoying themselves on a hot day. You’ll find many young boys jumping from trees, climbing the cascade and leaping down into the falls. If you thought you’ve seen waterfall jumping, you haven’t seen anything yet! Pierre tried to grab a quick photo of me for Instagram, but this is the best that we could do. Let’s just say he’s happy to have it on the blog 😉
After the waterfall, we headed over to xxx beach where scar’s reef is located. Again, more cows than people here as it was too hot to swim. We met another couple from the who were completely burned from the sun after merely walking on the beach for 30 mins! We ended up driving further south to check out the mangroves during low tide.
We returned to Ketasari before the sunset and stopped to investing the agar agar farmers that have been busy at work during the day. If you don’t know what agar is , It turns out the community here is so friendly. After seeing how curious we were about their cultivation, they offered to give us a bag full or agar agar. Aparently it can be eaten raw when mixed as a salad.
We ended the day with another Epic sunset with our awesome doggy guide Clarissa. She will be missed!
How to Get to West Sumbawa
Ferry – We traveled to West Sumbawa from Lombok. There are several bus companies who will take you from Mataram in Lombok to Taliwang in Sumbawa. Locals recommended that we take the “Damri” Bus Company which is the state-owned company so this is what we went with. You can find information about routes and tickets at the Damri Bus Terminal in Mataram located here. Cost ~100,000 IDR. Time 5-6 hours.
- Go to Damri Bus Terminal and purchase ticket to Taliwang which includes the public Ferry Ride.
- The bus will drive across Lombok to the east side of the island where the bus and you will board the ferry at Labuhan Lombok.
- Arrive at Porto Tano – the bus will continue to Taliwang.
- Once in Taliwang, hop on the back of a ojek (local scooter driver) and tell them to take you to Kertasari Beach.
Flight – Another option to get to fly to Sumbawa Besar. This option can take just as long as the bus + ferry but cost 10x times as much. Once you land in Sumbawa Besar, you will need find a taxi or private transport to Kertasari. Cost 780,000 IDR Flight + 600,000 IDR Land Transport. Time 4-6 hours total flight (1-stop) + Land Transfer 3 hours.
$$$ Baller Option – If you’re a real baller with little time and lots of cash, you might want to consider taking a helicopter to West Sumbawa. You can land next door to the Whales and Waves resort. We witnessed this in-person during our visit. Unfortunately, we failed to hitch a ride back with the ballers.
Where to Stay in West Sumbawa
For us, choosing a location to base ourselves in wasn’t very difficult. Our friends had raved about this one particular resort called Whales and Waves. They claimed that the location was a paradise in the middle of nowhere so we knew we had to see for ourselves. Located on Ketasari Beach, the resort is the only hotel located in the area. That made our choice even easier!
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