Sumba Island : The Most Cultural Destination Of Lesser Sunda Islands

Sumba is one of an island scattered among islands of East Nusa Tenggara. If we look at the map of East Nusa Tenggara then we can see Sumba island on the bottom of the map or located on the south.

Sumba is confined by Hindia Ocean on the southern part and Savu Sea at the eastern part, which also separate Sumba from Timor island. On the northern part, it is bordered by Sumba strait which separate it from Flores Island and so as from the eastern part which also confined by Sumba strait.

Sumba Island
Sumba Island (Source :

Observed from its location, we can see that Sumba is located on outside of ‘Ring of Fire’ – ring of volcanic mountains which line up from Sumatra, Java and ended at Arafuru Sea. In the reality, there is indeed no volcanic mountain on Sumba. Most of Sumba island territories are savanna, especially on the eastern part of Sumba. However, because of its hilly land contour, Sumba offer an extremely beautiful scenery.

What’s interesting on Sumba

Sumba has so many tourism attraction either natural tourism attraction and cultural tourism attraction such as traditional villages and stone tomb, society’s belief, culture, customs, arts, handicrafts etc.

Traditional villages can be seen everywhere, especially on West Sumba. Even if those villages located near a city, their existence is still well maintained, like villages around Waikabubak, capital city of West Sumba regency.

Sumba Stone Graves
Sumba Stone Graves (Source :

Those traditional villages generally located on top of the hills where traditional houses are lined on the right and left side of the village, while in the middle of the village there are huge stone tombs and also altar made of stone.

Traditional Sumba houses are made of wood and board, shaped like stage house with roof that made of straw and can reach the height of 10 meters.

Traditional Sumba houses
Traditional Sumba houses (Source :

Its megalithic stone tomb are big long rectangular tomb and some are really huge with the size 5×3 meters, even more.

Funeral ceremony is a very interesting cultural attraction, where I myself saw directly dozens of people pull a stone tomb, plus its ritual procession which very impressing and unique.

Sumba also famous for its handycraft, that is Sumba “ikat” weaving which is usually bigger and wider than ordinary ikat on other east Nusa Tenggara area and also have special and unique patterns.

Sumba ikat weaving
Sumba ikat weaving (Source :

Varieties of native Sumba’s art are also really interesting, where Sumba culture are rich with so many type of dances, such as kataga dance – a war dance performed by 4 men and dressed in Sumba traditional costume, carrying shield made of buffalo skin on the left hand and a saber on the right hand – and many other dances.

Waikabubak village, Sumba
Waikabubak village, Sumba (Source :

The majority of Sumba people are Christian, either Protestan or Catholic, but most of the people are still carry on the traditional belief of their ancestors and also local rituals which passed down from generation to generation, especially on wedding and funeral ceremony and other ceremonies connected to their farming activities.

One of the very famous ritual ceremony is “Pasola”, where 2 groups of men from different villages, fight each other by throwing spears and this event usually held on a grassland or other open area.

Pasola Festival, Sumba
Pasola Festival, Sumba (Source :

These man, which dressed in traditional costume, ride their horses and attack each other opponents by throwing their spears, which off course the spearheads had made blunt.

Apart from above cultural tourism, Sumba also have natural tourism attraction. The hilly land contour creates beautiful curves on some part of Sumba.

Sumba is also an endemic for many species of rare birds which only available on this island and also a few other native east Nusa Tenggara birds.

Access to Sumba (How to get there)

There are two airport at Sumba, which is Mauhau airport at Waingapu – East Sumba and another airport at Tambolaka – West Sumba. That makes the easiest way to Sumba is by flight from Denpasar (Bali) to Waingapu or to Tambolaka at West Sumba, served by Lion Air and Trans Nusa.

By the time this article was made, Lion Air served Denpasar – Waingapu and Denpasar – Tambolaka three times a week. So as Trans Nusa.

Accommodation, restaurant, transportation and other attraction

Like other area at Nusa Tenggara in general, the tourism condition of Sumba is not yet developed like, for instance, Bali. That is why we categorized Sumba and other Nusa Tenggara area as an adventure destination (Adventure travel).


There are not much accommodation available, most of them are lowest category hotel, but they usually clean, had private bathrooms but no hot water, some even without shower, so we have to use big basin and water dipper.

These days, there are many hotels showed up as boutique hotel that have international standard like boutique hotel in Bali or other area. The price off course is much more expensive and paid in dollar like other hotels in Bali. These kind of hotels all located on West Sumba.


There are not many restaurant available. Hotels usually have their own restaurant and only few restaurants located outside hotels. Generally, those restaurants serving Chinese food and mix Indonesian food.


There are no special transportation for tourist, generally using private cars such as Kijang, Panther and APV.

While for groups, available public buses, which off course does not equipped with air conditioner and microphone.


Quite good especially the main roads, even though some also damaged which caused by lack of maintenance. While roads on villages mostly are not asphalted yet.

And so is the article I made, hope it can be use full and enriched our insight about Sumba as one of interesting destination in Indonesia and hopefully it can grow tourist interest to visit the island of Sumba.

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