Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sumba!

How to get to Sumba?

From Denpasar, Bali (Ngurah Rai domestic airport) you can either use Garuda Indonesia or Lion Air (operated by Wings air)

Garuda Indonesia has a brand new jet airplane (Bombardier Nextgen CRJ1000) that will take you from Denpasar to Tambolaka airport (IATA code: TMC) in only 45 minutes.
A small collation with mineral water is served mid way through the trip.

Lion Air, operated by Wings Air is a propeller plane (ATR72). The flight takes about 1h20. Service on board is inexistant.


Price: both companies have tickets within the IDR800,000 and IDR900,000 range.

 Where to stay in Sumba?

A list of all the hotels in Sumba can be found on Bedforest.
We tried 3 of them, here are our reviews.

Sumba Mario Hotel and Café where we stay most of the time. Newly built, 20 min from Tambolaka airport, Clean room with 250 movies to watch on plasma tv. On the beach (pantai kita). Great view on the ocean from the room. Our favorite hotel.

Sumba Sinar Tambolaka Hotel: right in the middle of the city center. Rooms are small and not very clean although we haven’t tried the new rooms. We prefer to wake up looking at the ocean…

Sumba Nautil Resort: in the south near Marosi. One of the best resort in Sumba.

Where is what in Sumba?

East Sumba vs West Sumba

We are not going to talk much about East Sumba because we simply don’t go there. The main reason being that most of the island development is happening in West Sumba. Another reason is malaria. It has been eradicated in West sumba for some time now but is still a threat in the East. We try to avoid malaria prone location, obviously.


North Sumba vs South Sumba

We are talking here of North-West Sumba and South-West Sumba.
South-West Sumba:
– great surfing but because the waves are quite high, swimming is better in the north.
– amazing landscapes and sunsets
– minimum 2 hours drive from Tambolaka Airport

North-West Sumba:
– very quiet sea. No waves. the ocean is as calm as a lake.
– amazing diving and snorkelling. Totally untouched.
– closer to the airport than the south
– Land prices more affordable than in the south
– Development is happening much faster in the north due to the economical growth that came out of the renovation of Tambolaka airport

Weather in Sumba

Weather and seasons along the entire Indonesian archipelago are effected by its location between two landmasses: the hot, dry deserts of Australia to the south, and the green, lush Asian continent to the north.

High season for both surf and weather in Sumba is March through October, when the southeast monsoon blows hot, dry air up from the deserts of North Australia.

Although Sumba does not receive nearly as much rainfall as the islands to the north, November to March is the rainy season.

Seasonal air temperatures range from 26°C – 35°C (77°F – 95°F) with the hottest months being November through February. The water temperature is just about perfect year round at 26°C – 28°C (77°F – 82°F), with the coolest months being June and July.

Legalities for Investors

After gathering all the paper and making sure that every thing is order, the Foreigner will be able to nominate an Indonesian citizen, to “purchase” for him the freehold land from the original owner.
To make sure that everything will stay in the foreigner’s power, the Indonesian citizen will have FOUR option agreements with him:

1/ A Loan Agreement: specifying that the Foreigner has lent to the Indonesian citizen the purchase price of the land.

2/ A Permanent Right of Use: This document is an agreement giving the Foreigner the rights to use and occupy the land, as he wants it.

3/ An Attestation Letter: on which it will be stipulated that the Indonesian Citizen admits and agrees that the Foreigner lent him the money for purchasing the land and that he is only a ficti- tious owner.

4/ A power of Attorney: this paper signed by both parts is irrevocable. It says that the Foreigner owns the complete authority to sell, mortgage, lease or make any other deals with the land, and this, without notice to the Indonesia Citizen.

It is not possible for the Indonesian citizen to conclude any deal or agreement on this land be- fore the end date of the contract.
All the details of the deal between the Foreigner and the Indonesian Citizen will be written down the contract, preventing from reissuing new ones without the foreigner’s consent.

In case of conflict between both parts, the foreigner will have the right to end the partnership with the Indonesian Citizen and “lend” the land to another one.

Communications in Sumba


BEWARE! As of today only Telecomsel (simPATI) is available in Sumba. XL and the other operator don’t work yet.


In the cities phones work fine. In remote places it is not always the case although a lot of cell towers have been built recently and coverage grow more and more.


Near the cell towers you can get 3G coverage although you shouldn’t expect anything close to what you are used with your 3G at home. This is Sumba 3G, it is still quite slow.


Some places offer a free wifi service.
To name just but one: Gura Garam Restaurant in Tambolaka, 300m from the airport. And the food is good!

Religion and Culture in Sumba

From the eighth to the 18th century, Chinese and Arab traders came and went, bringing horses (still central to Sumbanese culture) and taking away sandalwood and slaves. The Dutch East Indies took control of the island in 1866, but it did not conquer the hearts of the fierce, headhunting islanders. The Dutch finally handed over sovereignty to Indonesia in 1950, independence following in 1962.

Fifty years on, Sumba is in many ways a forgotten world. Animist priests read the duodenum of a chicken to determine if a sick child will live or die. The annual festival of Pasola, held when seaworms swarm the coast each spring, is still celebrated, although these days the lances thrown by riders are blunt. Funerals involve the sacrifice of horses and buffalo that most Sumbanese can ill afford to make. In an attempt to curb such profligacy, a limit of three large animals per funeral was declared in 1990. But, as ever on Sumba, the rule of law has proved hard to impose.

 Malaria, Dengue…

There are 3 hospitals in West Sumba.

A 4th one is being built in Tambolaka. It is massive 3 hectare land hospital project funded by Herman Hery, an famous Indonesian politician.


3 hectare hospital project building site

Roads and Transportations in Sumba

Sumba roads are currently being upgraded and the go- vernment has made significant investments to create brand new roads to cater for more and more trafic due to the general development of the area and to people co- ming to visit the Island.

Roads in Sumba are connecting essentially the villages but also the beaches and coasts of Sumba.

Around the airport the paved roads are good; it is still a bit long to reach remote areas but the roads network im- provement has definitely started, and it will become easier to travel by car around the Island.