It was my sixth or seventh time surfing in Bali (check the full guide in the link) and the moment was past ripe (smelling on rotten) to go somewhere else or I felt like I would be stuck in the island of Gods for all the eternity. Not that that would be such a bad thing but still… time flies when repetition and monotony kicks in, even with surfing. So, already renting the motorbike for a whole month and being on a budget, Bali – Lombok – Sumbawa trip was what we came up with. You can do the trip using a plane, a taxi and fastboats, a rented car or a rented motorbike and a ferry. I like the motorbike because it’s cheap, renting it in Bali will cost you about 30.000IDR a day, renting it in other places is at least twice as expensive. But even more important – it gives you freedom. Freedom to navigate narrow traffic congested alleys, to explore the rock and hole infested paths under the palm trees searching for semi secret waves, to drive in between cows and goats and to avoid getting sick from your cars air condition. Downsides would include too much luggage and nowhere to put it problems, a sore butt and black face due to the exhaust fumes. Pack light & use laundries, wear a face mask and split your trip into smaller parts and you’ll be fine. So where to start?
You need about 1:30-2h to get from Kuta, Bali to Padang Bai, a small town up north the eastern side of Bali from where the public ferry goes to Lombok. Ferry departs every hour approximately on the hour and it costs like 110.000IDR for 2 people + motorbike. The ride to Lembar, Lombok lasts about 4 -5 hours. Bring something to eat or buy some nasi campur from countless sellers that storm the ship when people board it. Also – make sure you have your international drivers licence and the papers for your motorbike ready and in order because they check them before you board the ferry.
The drive across Lombok from Lembar to Labuhan Lombok or better – to Kayangan Port takes about 3 hours. Now here you need to make a choice. If you are going to make the whole trip in one piece it will take you around 7h on motorbike, 7h on two ferries and a few more hours for waiting on the ferry, making stops to eat… Your backside will be thankful if you split the journey into two parts. Instead of going straight to port for Sumbawa we drove to Gerupuk (1:30h), a small village on the South of Lombok close to Kuta Lombok. Gerupuk has a couple of great surf spots and lots places to sleep and eat. You can stay there for a day or a few days, then you have another good 2h from there to Kayangan Port from where the ferry goes to Sumbawa.
The ferry from Kayangan Port to Poto Tano, Sumbawa takes about 1:30h and costs a good 50.000IDR for two people and a motorbike. Unlike on the ferry to Lombok here you will probably be the only tourist on the boat. So yeah, Sumbawa is a bit different and it is also the reason why I decided to write this “guide” in the first place. While we were searching for info on Sumbawa I have found things like – it’s incredibly poor, roads are bad, an ox is an ordinary way of travel, it’s hard to get somewhere etc…
Our road from Poto Tano to Taliwang, then Maluk and finally Sekongkang (Yoyo beach) was smooth like a mango-lemon juice on a Kuta juice stand. I haven’t seen any oxen, people drive cars and motorbikes like everywhere else, the houses are really nice and the road from Poto Tano to Sekongkang is almost the best from all the three islands. It’s pothole free with almost no traffic, so you can crank your gas handle and let your motorbike fly and in less than 2h you are in Sekongkang. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that Sumbawa is not touristy:). There are no warungs, homestays, hotels… nothing. I’m am sure you could find a place to stay if you needed to, but it’s nothing like Bali or the tourist parts of Lombok. Its best to drive all the way to Sekongkang beach and even there have something reserved. Also, it’s a Muslim island and most of the people (especially older) are not used to seeing half naked tourists.
If you need any more info, you can ask in the comments.