Sumbawa is located in sunny West Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia and is separated from neighboring Lombok by the Strait of Alas. It is separated from Komodo Island by the Sape Strait and has the Indian Ocean on its south side and the Flores Sea on the north. Sumbawa is the largest island in West Nusa Tenggara and is blessed with an array of spectacular scenery including its crowning glory in the form of Mount Tambora which also happens to be a still-active volcano.
Other attractions in Sumbawa include its turquoise waters and sandy beaches, and anyone who likes diving or snorkeling won’t leave disappointed. It is also one of the hidden gems of the Indonesian surf scene, so if you are looking for a place to bring your board then look no further than Sumbawa. This part of Indonesia is often not well visited by travelers, but those who travel down this far will find an engaging local culture that is quite different from other parts of the country coupled with a relaxed and serene beachside atmosphere.
Let’s explore the best places to visit in Sumbawa:
1. Poto Tano
Poto Tano is one of the main tourist areas in Sumbawa although that still doesn’t mean that it is very busy.
It is also the gateway to Sumbawa as you can take a ferry across from Lombok which will take you to Poto Tano.
Although it’s a port town Poto Tano is one of the prettiest of its kind in Indonesia and you will find the town surrounded by jade green hills and emerald waters which means that it is a hit with any photographers looking to get some souvenir snaps.
In between the sandy beaches here you will also find rambling areas of virgin rainforest and on a clear day you can see across to might Mount Rinjani on Lombok.
2. Kenawa Island
Kenawa Island in Sumbawa is not to be confused with Kenawa Island in Flores.
Whatever its name however it is one of the most beautiful places in Sumbawa and you will find acres of fluffy sand and elegant grass lands.
The island is uninhabited and stretches for around 15 hectares, but you can come here on a day trip and enjoy the snorkeling off shore with a high chance of seeing starfish, sea horses, crabs, and a wealth of other colorful aquatic life.
If you want to stay a little longer on Kenawa Island then you can camp here overnight as part of an organized tour which is the highlight of a trip to Sumbawa for many visitors.
Lakey is one of the top surf spots in Sumbawa and all along the coastline here you will find a range of good surf breaks which are famous with expatriate surfers and those in the know.
One of the other plus points of Lakey is that, because it sees a range of travelers, it is more developed for visitors and you can find some solid dining options here and you will even find a few beach bars.
As a result, if it’s your first time to Sumbawa and you want to ease in gently, this is one of the best spots to choose.
4. Moyo Island
Around two kilometers to the north of the main island of Sumbawa is Moyo Island.
The island is the home of the Moyo Island National Park which tells you everything you need to know about the famed natural beauty of the region.
The coral reefs in particular are spectacular here so if you like diving you are in for a treat.
Back on land, you can trek through the park and there is a good chance of seeing wild boars and lizards.
Moyo Island is also famous for having over 20 different kinds of bats, so nature lovers should make sure to swing by here on a visit to Sumbawa.
5. Jereweh Waterfall
Sumbawa is an island covered in waterfalls and one of the most stunning of them all is Jereweh Waterfall.
Rather confusingly, the waterfall is sometimes referred to as Ai Koa Waterfall or Janup Waterfall and it is one of the most interesting cataracts in Indonesia as the falls are set in a staircase formation which means that the water here spurts down the mountainside in jagged bursts.
Jereweh Waterfall is located outside of Taliwang which happens to be the capital of West Sumbawa and is a must-visit attraction if you are in the area.
Make sure to check out the towering trees here with their thick roots that wrap around the surrounding rocks.
6. Ai Manis Beach
Ai Manis Beach is a favorite for travelers to Sumbawa and is located on wider Moyo Island.
One of the main reasons to come here is to enjoy the underwater extravaganza that Ai Manis Beach provides and you will find colorful coral reefs and a variety of cute underwater critters.
The beach is also surrounded by forests which are home to wild pigs and deer, so if you decide to stay on land you will still find plenty to see here.
7. The Old Palace of Dalam Loka
Located on the second largest island in Sumbawa which is Sumbawa Besar, the palace of the former sultan of Sumbawa is a great pick if you want to learn a little more about the history of this area.
The palace dates from 1885 and would have been built in the time of Muhammad Jalaluddin Shah III who was the 16th sultan of the Dewa Dalam Bawa Dynasty.
The palace is still a rather impressive affair and is made of wood and is one of the most iconic sights in Sumbawa.
It is claimed that the palace is an amazing feat of engineering as it was made without using nails, and stands instead as a result of a clever series of wooden slotting joints.
8. Benete Beach
Located in West Sumbawa, Benete Beach is one of the most popular in the area and a big part of this is down to the dining options here.
The beach is close to the Batu Hijau Mine region, and it is here that you will find some of the most delicious seafood in all of Sumbawa.
The beach is a little different from many others in the area as it is covered in a kind of black sand which is a result of volcanic mineral deposits.
The best way to enjoy it is to seek out a little local eatery, order up a plate of simply grilled seafood and tuck in while enjoying the views across the water.
9. Maluk Beach
Maluk has a pretty beach which is also made even more interesting by the fact that it backs on seas that are blessed with a pounding surf.
Many surf aficionados who have heard about the scene in Sumbawa flock here, but you will need to bring your board with you as it can be hard to rent anything on the beach.
The waves get up to a height of around 2 meters and the village of Maluk where the beach is located is also a good place to visit in its own right as it is filled with local warungs and leafy scenery.
10. Mata Jitu Waterfall
Inside the Moyo Island Forest is the Mata Jitu Waterfall which you will hear long before you see it.
To get here you will need to trek through the forest and the waterfalls are said to have formed millions of years ago long before the area was even inhabited.
The waterfall is staggered over four sections and there are seven pools here that you can swim in and come as a welcome relief after the hot trek to get out to the location.
11. Tropica Beach
Tropica Beach is also sometimes referred to as Tropicals, although whatever it is called it is certainly the quintessential tropical paradise.
You will find this amazing beach outside the village of Sekongkang Bawah in wider Sekongkang and it is one of the prettiest stretches of sand in the area.
There is some surfing to be had here although unlike some of the other beaches in the area which are only really worth visiting if you are a hard core surfer, Tropica Beach is also good for swimmers or those who just want to kick back and lay on the sand.
12. Liang Petang
Liang Petang is not recommended for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia or who is afraid of the dark.
Liang translates as cave in Indonesian and Petang means dark, and this is pretty much what you will get here – a dark cave.
If you bring a flashlight with you however the cave will come alive with elegant stalactites and stalagmites that adorn the inner chamber.
You will find some oddities inside including rock formations that look like tomb stones, so if you like archaeology this is another spot not to miss in Sumbawa.
13. Gunung Tambora
Gunung Tambora is the highest peak on Sumbawa and stands at almost 3,000 meters tall.
The mountain is also an active volcano, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t climb it as it hasn’t erupted properly since the 1960s.
To trek to the top of Gunung Tambora you will need to make your way to the village of Pancasila and from there you can hire a guide and set off on your hike.
Depending on your fitness levels it usually takes several days to climb to the summit and back down again, and even if you are in very good shape it is not possible to get to the crater in a day.
As such, you will need to camp out overnight if you want to conquer the summit.
14. Satonda Island
Satonda Island is part of Sumbawa and is best visited as part of a boat trip which lets you take in some of the best scenery in the area.
The island has the claim to fame of having a large crater lake in the center which would have been a volcano and which has now filled with salt water.
You can get a boat across to Satonda Island from neighboring Pancasila and there is one resort here if you want to stay overnight.
Common pastimes at the island include snorkeling or simply enjoying the vistas over the lake.
15. Gili Paserang
Just a short jump across from Poto Tano is the island of Gili Paserang which is one of the sweetest spots in Sumbawa.
If you travel here by boat you will find white sandy beaches and you can camp on the island as long as you have your own camping equipment.
As with many parts of Sumbawa the big draw here is the snorkeling and Gili Paserang backs onto banks of pretty coral.
Certainly if you really want to get away from it all then consider camping under the stars here as it will doubtless be the highlight of a trip to stunning Sumbawa.