Tambolaka is a growing town in Sumba, Indonesia, used as the western entry point for the island.
Tambolaka used to be just a small area where the airport is, and Waitabula is (sometime written as "Weetabula", and originally "Wetobula"). Now Tambolaka has grown into a city district that includes Waitabula as its sub-district.
Travelers normally use Tambolaka as the base to explore West Sumba, despite the stretch of distance to the tourist spots, due to limited accommodations.
- 1 Tambolaka Airport (TMC IATA). Handles flights mostly from/to Denpasar and Kupang. There are about 20 direct flights per week from Denpasar. If you are coming from Flores, you can fly in from Ende with Wings Air. Ticket is around IDR 800,000 (as of Nov 2018). Wings Air also flies from Makassar.
There are several ferry route to Tambolaka from Flores with ASDP Indonesia Ferry services. Check the routes and prices in ASDP website. Price is usually around IDR 80,000 - IDR 100,000 (as of Nov 2018).
Transportation is expensive in Sumba due to the limited availability of vehicles for tourism. In general you can expect (as of Dec 2018):
- Motorbike rental for a day: IDR 100,000 - IDR 150,000
- Car rental (with driver) for a day: IDR 500,000 - IDR 700,000
There is no taxi operator in Sumba, but there are independent drivers touting at the airport. As in any developing destinations, you would need to get a clear rate (per person or per location), repeat it, and pay them exactly (don't use the IDR 100,000 note). The rate from the airport to downtown Tambolaka is IDR 50,000 per trip (as of Nov 2018). You would be surprised to know that these drivers would rather get an extra IDR 50,000 immediately by cheating you, rather than scoring IDR 600,000 for a day trip the following day. Get your accommodation to pick you up if possible. Your accommodation would be able to recommend drivers with good track records if you need a day trip.
Two of the tourism highlights in West Sumba are beaches and traditional villages, although they are sometime 30km away from Tambolaka. There is no ticketing or fixed price in Sumba (remember, infrastructure and system for tourism is still developing here). Most of the places would require you to sign a guest book and donate a voluntary amount. The recommended amount is IDR 20,000 per person (as of Dec 2018).
- Sumba Cultural Center (Rumah Budaya Sumba). Run by a Catholic missionary to promote Sumba culture. If you intend to visit the traditional villages, it is highly recommended to visit the this Center first. The fee for the guide is voluntary. At the end of the tour, you will be asked to sign the guest book and give your donation. Recommended IDR 50,000 per person, or refer to the amount that the previous guests donated for reference.
- Ratenggaro Beach: Located just about 200 m from Ratenggaro Village, this is the original site of Ratenggaro Village before it relocated to the current site. You can find some megalithic tombs here, including one of the previous village chief's. Entrance fee is fixed at IDR 20,000 per motorbike and IDR 50,000 per car (as of Dec 2018).
- Wainyapu Village and Wainyapu Beach: on the other side of the river of Ratenggaro Village
- Bawana Beach and Watu Malandong Beach: See the unique rock karst rock formation next to the sea.
- Mandorak Beach: A small beach with a small opening between two rocks. Local fishermen are coming/going from the beach to do their fishing. Voluntary donation, pay at the entrance / gate.
- Weekuri Lake: located nearby Mandorak Beach, you would see a saltwater lake that is connected to the sea. You can jump into the lake to cool down. There are toilet to change and some handicraft sellers. Recommended entrance fee for IDR 20,000 per person (as of Dec 2018).
Tambolaka / Waitabula Market: Typical market you can find groceries and daily needs. It is quite big to walk on and the locals are quite friendly.
You can get cold beer from kiosks on the street side for IDR 35,000 per big bottle. Only Bintang is available in Sumba, locals have information that Bintang has blocked the access of other beer brands in the island.
- Rumah Budaya Sumba: yes the cultural center is also running an accommodation business, about IDR 500,000 per night (as of Nov 2018)
- Hotel Sinar Tambolaka. a large local hotel IDR 250,000 per night (as of Nov 2018)
- Renata Homestay, IDR 200,000 per night (as of Nov 2018)
- Melati Homestay, IDR 250,000 per night (as of Nov 2018)
Telkomsel is recommended here. You may get phone signals with other phone operators, but the chance of getting internet is very slim (as of Dec 2018).
To Waikabubak, from morning until 4pm. 60-90 minutes away, another good base to explore West Sumba. The bus terminal is located near the Tambolaka Market, but you can also wait on the road side as they will pick up passengers along the way. They will depart to destination after it is full.