Sumbawa is a large island to the east of Bali and Lombok. It is part of West Nusa Tenggara province along with Lombok. There are hundreds of small islands in this area in addition to the two major islands. Sumbawa really belongs more to Eastern Indonesia than to the western part of the archipelago. The effects of Hindu and Buddhist cultures are minimal in Sumbawa (although there is a Balinese presence along the northern coastal area), and although the island is predominantly Muslim, the role of traditional culture is still very strong.
The slogan of Sumbawa Regency is: “B E S A R” which stands for BERSIH, ELOK, SEHAT, AMAN DAN, RAPI, (Clean, Beautiful, Healthy, Safe, and Proper). The regional government’s official website notes that Sumbawa still lacks sufficient medical facilities to support public health, in particular a lack of doctors and other health professionals. A public health center was recently opened in Sekongkang, but adequate treatment for a serious illness or accident requires a trip to Sumbawa Besar or Mataram, both of which require a journey of at least four hours minimum.
The regional government has a six-year plan for improving the lives of the island’s residents. This plan includes: Health (improving health service quality including equipment and facilities), Education, Social Welfare (including reaching gender equality), Agriculture (optimizing resources for improving agricultural products), Industry, Trade and Cooperation (developing an economic system that focuses on the fair market mechanism), Regional Finance and Capital Investment, Manpower and Demography, Public Works and Communication (improving transport and the use of water resources), Agrarian Matter and Landscape, Living Environment and Natural Resource (rehabilitating and conserving natural resources), Tourism, Art and Culture (developing tourism based on natural and cultural tours, as well as teaching traditional art and culture), Religious Life Teaching (improving religious life through teaching and providing praying facilities and by making the role of religious institutions and social organizations to be teaching about living in harmony with other religious people), Law and Society’s Orderliness (creating safe conditions based on the supremacy of the law and human rights); Politic and the Efficiency of Apparatus (improving the quality of public service through responsibility and the quality of government institutions); Science and Technology (the application of right and useful technology).
In many respects Sumbawa can be considered remote. To get to Sumbawa from Bali most people take the ferry from Bali to Lombok, travel overland to the eastern seaport in Lombok and then take another ferry to Sumbawa, ending up in Poto Tano. From there transportation is somewhat problematic. There are buses that will take us on to Sumbawa Besar, the capital, or down the coast road to the south, If traveling from Lombok, it is best to board a bus there that will take us to our final destination in Sumbawa. It is also possible to fly into Sumbawa Besar city on the western side of the island, and Bima on the eastern side of the island. A small airline called Tropical Air existed for a short while which flew directly to Sekongkan where the surfing spots of Yoyo and Scar Reef are located.
Sumbawa is known for its great waves and sandy white beaches. Due to the somewhat trying process of getting there and the scarcity of cheap tourist facilities, the island is not visited much by non-surfing tourists which is unfortunate as the parts of the island that have seen are quite beautiful. During the dry season (April to November) a lot of dust is blown up and around. Strong winds blow in off the ocean, and the lush green hills, mountains and valleys turn a dusty brown. When the rainy season begins an amazing transformation takes place and the island becomes a lush jungle once again.
The pace of life on Sumbawa is definitely slower than that in Bali. As most of the island is still developing, there is a very rural feel to just about everywhere that you go, including Sumbawa Besar, the capital of the western side of the island. The mining company, New Mont, has a gold and copper mine down in the southwestern corner of the island around the villages of Sekongkang, Maluk and Benete. Their presence has speeded up the development process on this side of the island.
West Sumbawa is mostly made up of hollow lefts that are best accessed by boat charter. The charters will pull up and anchor at the best breaks for easy access to the surf. This area has many steep cliffs that offer scenic backdrops to the epic surf. The Lake area can be accessed by charter, as well as by ferry and overland transfers, or flights from Bali. Here there some hotels and surf camps located right in front of the main breaks of Lackey Peak and Lackey Pipe, with other waves within walking distance. Most waves are a long paddle or walk across the reef depending on the tide, reef booties are recommended.