The split personality of Sumba makes the island very attractive. The east-coast rocky shores are decorated by beautifully shaped craggy mountains and the west was contrastingly blessed by fertile verdure with rolling hills and lots of rain. Merchants from all corners of the world have been coming here to pick the finest ikat fabric  for decades. Poor nation, yet rich tradition. The irreplaceable cultural heritage of Sumba is best to be seen in the countryside, where thatch-roof-topped houses tower over the jungles and the female villagers diligently weave and thread on their verandas, while the men are battling with swords and spears on horseback.

Traditional village in Kodi

Traditional village in Kodi


The largest port town Waingapu is the capital of Sumba, but it is far from a modern city. Pigs and poultry roam the backstreets and locals still walk barefoot, just ikat, which looks more like a colourful towel to the Westerners, wrapped around their waists and heads.There is no need to rush on this island; just relax and go with the flow.

Waitabubak is the second most important town. Surrounded by green meadows and forested hills, the land made home to numerous traditional tribal villages. Waikabubak is where you need to go to uncover the secrets of the Sumbawese civilization.

shutterstock_213179386                                                                            Traditional huts with buffalo totems and hand made ikat drying after been dyed


The local traditions and customs are the main reason to pay a visit to the mysterious countryside of Sumba. The villages are characteristic of huge clean houses made out of a petrified tree, from which the heads of conquered enemies once used to be proudly hung to celebrate the victory. Such totems are quiet a spectacle. Death here in Sumba plays the most important role, as that is a moment when then mortal soul makes the journey into the spirit world. Therefore, one of the most impressive experiences on this island are graveyards and the funeral rituals and ceremonies like megalithic burials and animal sacrifices.

Sculptured stoned megalithic tombs in Rende

Sculptured stoned megalithic tombs in Rende


  • Walk up to the Kampung Tarung on the hill-top of the town of Waitabubak. That is where ancient megalithic graves come into sights and where the most significant spiritual centre of the island lies. If you travel in November, you will get the chance to witness one of the most fascinating tribal festivals in Indonesia – Wula Padu. This is a relatively barbaric ceremony, when many animals are sacrificed in order to pay honour to the spirits of the Sumbese ancestors. Stop by at the Tarung culture village!
  • Another annual fiesta is Pasola and it is the absolute MUST in Sumba. This extraordinary harvest festival takes place each February or March in Kodi, Lamboyaand Wanokaka and it is the most important event in the island. This “bloody” fest is held on a flat battlefield where spear-armed horse men from different villages meet and they are divided into two teams, which are supposed to fight against each other. Spilling of their blood is to be believed to placate the spirits of the tribes and restore balance between the villages.

Pasola festival in Kodi                                                                                                                       Pasola festival in Kodi

  • Prailu is heaven for all the textile and fabric lovers. The local ladies literally spend their life weaving and threading ikat – worldwide reputed high quality silk fabric. This is the place where to buy best quality ikat blankets, scarfs or wall hangings. The good thing about this place is that you can buy here a $100 USD ikat cloth which would have a value of more than $1000 USD in the West.
  • Rende and Melolo are astonishing ancient stone tombs with bizarre carvings.
  • Pero is just a simple seaside village. Yet it is extremely liked by surfers. The desolate long stretch where high waves from Antarctica crash onto the steeply sloping sand, is down to the right, but the currents and undertow are ferocious.
  • Waterfalls – take a dip in one of Sumba`s tropical waterfalls, e.g. Lapopu, Tanggedu, Waikelo Sawah, Gunung Meja
  • Weekuri Lake – a spectacular lagoon with every hue of blue imaginable and is fringed by lush tropical greenery. With crystal clear water teeming with sea life and a sandy bottom, this lagoon is perfect for cooling off after a long journey to reach here. The best views are from the rocky cliffs as it offers views of the entire lake and the crashing sea below that feeds the lake with fresh seawater.
  • Nihiwatu Resort – the island’s most popular resort has been ranked as one of the world’s five best eco-retreats and got also the world’s best hotel of 2016 for its native ambience and authentic local experience.

Nihiwatu                                                                                                                                 Weekuri Lake


Sumba gets heavy rain falls between December and February and it is almost impossible here to travel in these months, middle season months are March-April and October-November. The peak time is in the dry time of a year June-September, when it gets very hot.

Remember that Pasola takes place in the months of February-March and Wula Padu in November.


Sumba is accessed either by boat or plane.

Fly to Jakarta/Java or Denpasar/Bali first. Then catch a local flight to Sumba. There is also a domestic airport in Waingapu (see

If travelling overland, ferry from Ende/Flores brings you to Waingapu/Sumba, or from the other side, from Sape/Sumbawa to Waikelo/Sumba.

For all international flights check out or

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By Eva Bodova

Thursday 21 July 2016

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