When people hear about Indonesia, almost instantly their mind will drift to Bali. Who doesn’t know Bali? A tropical paradise with sandy beaches, clear blue sky, and hot weather. It’s a perfect destination with all the beauty (not to mention the low prices). What most people don’t know, is that there’s a better paradise, only an island away.
Meet Sumbawa, a beautiful island which doesn’t get as much attention as its neighbours. The lack of attention that it gets means only one thing: you can have the place for yourself for most of the time. No crowds, no competition to get the best spot, no touristy cliché.
I had lived in Sumbawa for five years before moving to a metropolitan city to pursue a higher education. In the last eight years, I have spent most of my vacations going from one beach to another but, needless to say, nothing beats Sumbawa beaches. Fortunately, I had the chance to visit it once more after my graduation.
Five minutes before the plane landed, I saw the ‘welcome view’ that Sumbawa offers. From then I knew that it would be a fabulous vacation.
I had the best time in my two weeks there. I went to the beach every two or three days and saw beautiful sunsets, collected pastel-coloured shells, and ate fresh seafood almost everyday (and when I say fresh, I mean straight from the sea to the grill and then to my plate).
During my last week there, my friend asked me to go to Labu Pade, a beach on the east side of the island, a two hour drive from the place I stayed. My first impression of Labu Pade beach wasn’t that good. It was too crowded for my taste, and the sand was black (I was used to white-sand beaches). But the surprise lay on the other side. We rented a speedboat to go Bedil Island and Keramat Island, empty little islands that were only five minutes apart from each other, and ten minutes away from the mainland. They are so small that it took me less then ten minutes to walk around each island.
We spent the afternoon on Bedil and Keramat Islands. It was heaven. The sky was clear, the sun was scorching and it was so hot, but I didn’t mind at all, since I could plunge into the cold water any time I wanted. There’s no better combination than hot weather and cold water.
And when I was tired of playing in the water, I just lay on the powdery sand and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, with cold drinks and some snacks. Not a bad idea for a holiday, right?
So if you want to visit Indonesia any time, forget about Bali. Come to Sumbawa Island instead. And if you want some adventure, go to Bedil and Keramat Islands. Don’t expect it to be luxurious, though. It only has a few residents, so there will be no grand hotel and definitely no souvenirs shopping. If you want all those things, maybe Lombok Island (which is located exactly between Bali and Sumbawa) will be a better fit for you. But if you’re an adventurer who loves nature, stargazing, camping, and having the place for yourself (and your friends or beau), then Sumbawa is the perfect place for you. Be sure to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, lots of food and drinks, and lots of sunblock, and you’re set for a holiday in the sun that you’ll never forget.