Sumbawa is a long stretch of island sandwiched between Lombok to the West and Flores to the East. Sumbawa doesn't receive many visitors due to its location and lack of tourist facilities but this shouldn't stop the adventure thirsty traveller... Sumbawa will delight you with its dramatic landscape and ever so friendly people.
Sumbawa is a world away from Bali and Lombok and it has to be said that life here for the local people is hard. Most people live off the land and at times, due to arid conditions, crops have failed and people have gone hungry. The pace of life here is very slow and there is definitely a rural feel to Sumbawa; even throughout all the major towns that lie along the road, you will still meet farmers, come across local markets and be met by wonderment from the local children. It is the people themselves that make Sumbawa a great place to experience the best of Indonesian hospitality.
Although Sumbawa doesn't receive many visitors you can be sure that surfers will surely want to head this way. Surfing is what has put Sumbawa on the map. It is more notably Dompu where you will find world class waves. In fact Sumbawa receives surf all year round. You can expect to find great swells from April to September. If you are in search of waves head to Lakey in Dompu.
There is one road that runs from West to East and it is known as the Trans Sumbawan Highway. It can be quite testing at times as the road occaisionally loses its tarmac and turns into gravel. Expect a bumpy ride.
Arriving from the West
Sumbawa is actually quite easy to access from Lombok as there is a regular ferry service connecting both islands. The ferry from Labuhan Lombok will take around 60 minutes to reach Poto Tano on the Western Coast of Sumbawa. There is practically nothing to do in Poto Tano as it just serves as the Harbour. You won't find any hotels nor any enticing restaurants. Make sure you time your arrival well into Poto Tano as you will have another 3 hour road trip awaiting you to Sumbawa Besar. If you don't have a driver waiting for you there are numerous bemos (mini buses) that will offer to take you to Sumbawa Besar.
Arriving from the East
Trying to get to Sumbawa by ferry from Labuhan Bajo in Flores can at times be frustrating. The ferries are a little inconsistent with departures and the journey itself can take up to 12 hours as the crossing itself can at times get a little hairy as the currents are very strong in this channel. You will reach Sumbawa through the port of Sape. Do not expect too much here as it only serves as a port and there are limited guest houses to choose from.
Arriving by Air
This is probably the best way to get to Sumbawa. Merpati fly daily from Denpassar to Bima and if you find the right ticket, the cost can be quite attractive. This is a popular option for travellers wanting to see the Komodo Dragon; a day or so transit in Bima then fly directly to Labuahan Bajo in Flores.