Sumbawa, the ninth largest island in Indonesia, is situated in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is separated from Lombok by the Alas Strait. Despite being a deceptively larger island, Sumbawa remains largely unknown to tourists, making it an excellent destination for those seeking a unique and authentic Indonesian experience. The island has a rich history of trade and commerce, and it was traditionally known as a source of sappanwood, honey, sandalwood, and wild horse milk, which was used for its curing properties.
Sumbawa is also renowned for its stunning natural beauty, world-class surf spots, beautiful beaches stretching from east to west, and big open grasslands. The outlying islands of Moyo, Sangeang, and Satonda offer fantastic diving opportunities and interesting topography. Satonda, in particular, is a collapsed volcanic island with a freshwater lake in the middle and is a traditional day stop off for trips from Bali to Komodo. One little-known gem in Sumbawa is in massive bay of Saleh, which is one of the best places in the world to see and swim with whale sharks. The whale sharks live and breed in this bay and hang around the traditional floating fish platforms known as Bagans.
The massive Tambora Volcano dominates the landscape around Saleh Bay, and its explosion in 1815 reduced its height from 4300 meters to 2850, causing the world’s year without a summer in 1816 due to its impact on European and North American weather. The savannah grass lands on its slopes make it an easy trek or jeep ride to the summit.
The West Sumbawa region boasts world-class surf breaks, including Scar Reef, Supersucks, and Yo-Yo’s, while a second cluster of breaks in Central Sumbawa includes Lakey Peak and Periscopes, where anchoring behind the waves is possible.
The crystal-clear waters, twisted peninsulas, and protected bays of Sumbawa offer a wealth of dive opportunities, particularly in the north, and the surrounding shoreline around Sangeang Volcano is an excellent environment for spotting almost every nudibranch imaginable. One area of Sumbawa even has hot bubbles emanating from its sandy seabed. Moyo Island, situated at the mouth of Saleh Bay, is another traditional stop-off for yachts. The island is a nature reserve of grassy Savannah and forested areas with an abundance of wildlife, including wild oxen, native deer, wild boars, monitor lizards, and 21 species of bat and crab-eating macaques. Surrounded by stunning coral reefs, beaches, and fine coral sand, it’s best to visit between May to October when the South East Trade Winds blow steady dry and cool air. A highlight of the island is the Mata Jitu Waterfall, where the rock formations and stalactites adorn the surface, created over hundreds of years. This island is home to the six star Amanwana Resort where guests can fine dine and use the spa and even utilise its float plane from Bali.