Indonesia is the perfect holiday destination, especially if you live in Australia. The flight isn’t long and budget airlines like Jetstar have sales throughout the year, making it affordable and easy to get there. Indonesian people are incredibly friendly, hospitable and welcoming, the food is delicious, the weather is perfect and it’s budget-friendly. Like I said, it’s the perfect holiday destination.
When you think of Indonesia the first place that springs to mind is Bali. The word itself conjures up images of beautiful beaches, lush green scenery, massages and cocktails in coconuts. Bali is beautiful, lately though I’ve found myself wanting to visit a more remote part of Indonesia and escape the hustle and bustle of busy streets and a sea of Bintang singlets.
While Bali is probably the most well-known Indonesian Island, there are 13,465 others to choose from! A few weeks ago I headed to Sumbawa with Matt and three friends. If you haven’t heard of it, Sumbawa is an island to the east of Bali and it’s huge. Best of all, it’s remote and feels nothing like the crazy tourist covered streets of Kuta.
To get there we took a very short domestic flight from Bali to Lombok then drove 2 hours by car to the coastline, followed by a 2-hour ferry ride and another short drive to the west coast of Sumbawa. It was worth every second it took to get there.
Tourists are far and few between, the majority of travellers are surfers keen to take advantage of famous surf breaks like Lakey Peak, Yo-Yo’s, SuperSucks and Scar Reef. Even if you don’t surf, like me, there are loads of things to do and see in West Sumbawa, though you’re going to need a local with a car to show you around.
Sumbawa is a beautiful part of the world and, thankfully, unspoiled by tourism. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday with an adventurous edge, set among stunning scenery, then Sumbawa could just be the spot for you!
1. Climb a mountain
Next to Nomad Tropical Surf Resort, where we stayed, is a decent size mountain. It took two relatively fit men 30 minutes to climb to the top and the view of the coastline, ocean and surrounding areas made it more than worthwhile.
2. Visit Scar Reef
Clear water, white sandy beaches and local boats make Scar Reef look like something from your dreams or a series of Survivor. You can wade in the shallow water close to shore or walk further out, toward the surf break. Don’t be turned off by the name, the reef won’t get ya unless you paddle out to the surf break.
3. Visit a local market
The local markets aren’t just a place to buy food, they’re extremely social and buzzing with friendly chatter and laughter. There’s no refrigeration and an abundance of flies crawling on meat, fish and chicken laid out in the heat. That’s how the locals live and it’s not set up for the benefit of outsiders, it’s a cool experience and a great way to see how other people in the world live. The locals are more than happy to say hello and smile and pose for photos, of course it’s important to always be respectful and polite when you’re visiting 🙂
4. Stand up paddle boarding
Grab a stand-up paddle board and head out into the beautiful cool water. Make sure you check the area is safe in terms of swell and you aren’t paddling out onto a razor-sharp reef if you don’t have the experience to handle it.
5. Go snorkelling
Visit a spot known as Secret Beach, a secluded little cove with nobody else in sight, don some snorkel gear and head out for a swim. Again, it’s best to have a local with you to help navigate the reef and waves.
6. Visit a waterfall
Follow a bumpy dirt road next to the local Police Station, along a river and into the jungle and hike 25 minutes to a beautiful hidden waterfall. There’s a rope swing and you can slide down the rocks into the main pool of the waterfall too, if you’re particularly brave, and have the guidance of a local, you can jump off one of the big rocks into the water.
7. Let off fireworks
Fireworks are readily available at supply shops in town and they’re dirt cheap. Stock up on a carload of fireworks, wait for the sun to set and have you very own amateur fireworks display on the beach.
8. Take a walk
Stroll along the beautiful, unspoiled beaches and take in the picture-perfect scenery around you. It would be rare to see many if any, tourists laying along the beach. Dip in for a swim, wander along the water’s edge and take photos of this unspoiled location.
9. Visit a village
Drive through the local villages and don’t be afraid to ask your guide to stop. Walk along the streets and take in the way the locals live, say hello to friendly little children and step around the goats, chickens, cows, monkeys and horses wandering the streets. The people are so happy and welcoming, they’ll happily say hello to you and maybe pose for a photo if you’re polite and respectful.
10. Feast on local fare
Enjoy delicious fresh seafood and local dishes like Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Martabak and lovely tropical fruit that tastes better than any you can buy from a chain supermarket.
11. Relax and reconnect
There’s nothing but time in Sumbawa, so allow yourself to settle into the slow island pace and reconnect with yourself. The days are lovely and long, the sun is warm and the beaches are perfect.
One last piece of advice, don’t do what I did and forget to pack a decent shampoo and conditioner. All that time spent out in the sun and in the water left my hair looking like a bird’s nest! My advice, buy some of those bulk bottles from TRESemmé Australia. Trust me, you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Where to stay in Sumbawa
We stayed at Nomad Tropical Resort in West Sumbawa. The resort was absolutely fantastic! It’s simple, humble and the perfect place for an Island escape. It’s all-inclusive which means your meals, snacks, some drinks and some activities are all included in the price. The resort can have as many as 41 people stay at once, though we had the resort to ourselves most of the time.
The staff at Tropical are fantastic, they are helpful, knowledgeable, friendly and accommodating. They made our stay relaxing, fun, adventurous and easy. Food prepared by the kitchen is delicious and they cater to those with food allergies too. I definitely recommend Tropical as a great place to stay for a no-fuss holiday in a beautiful part of Indonesia.
Watch our short video of our trip to Sumbawa!
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.