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District Bima
Beautifull coasts and pile dwellings

The eastern part of Sumbawa, the district Bima, is branded by beautiful coasts and fishery villages with pile dwellings. After a visit to Bima city you can visit the villages of the Dou Donggo across the bay, or chose one of the two trips through the area: a trip to the south, or a trip along the northern coast. It's not possible to make more of these trips on one day; even then the entire day is filled with some small extra stops.

Duo Donggo

The Donggo live in the cloudy highlands west of Teluk Bima and on the southern sloped of Gunung Soromandi, scattered over 11 villages: Bajo, O'o, Rora, Punti, Sowa, Mbawa, Kala, Doridungga, Palama, Sai and Sampungu. In the neighborhood of Wavo, besides the main road between Bima and Sape, there are less traditional Donggo. This population fleed into the hills in the 17th centiry to escape the islamisation by the sultans of Bima, and it has maintained it's traditional religion until today.
The Donggo worship a triad of gods, consisting of the god of heaven, 'Dewi Langi', a god of the water, 'Dewa Oi', and a god of the wind, 'Dewa Wango'. They communitu is separated into numerous clans, all lead by different charismatic men which are called ncuhi, whose rule is inheritable. These ncuhi lead big religious festivities, like Kesaro, a fertility ritual. The traditional Donggo-houses, especially those of the ncuhi, have one area with a higher roof. There are several more of these houses in between the pile dwellings, in the style of the lowlands.
The Donggo are known for their woven and indigo-painted fabrics, tembe sangga, of which they make traditional clothing: tunics (kababu), trousers (deko) or sarongs (tembe ala).

The south: Wane

After a two hour drive from Bima, you arrive at the southern coast in the village of Wane, blessed with a very nice white beach. The first part of the trip, over the main road towards Sumbawa Besar, is very good. Beyond the airport, near Tente, you turn towards the south in the direction of Parado. This route is almost as good as the main road. The good pavement stops less than 20 kilometers ahead, just after a fertile valley near Simpasai.
After this town it's another five kilometers over a bumpy road to the village of Sondo. The pavement stopped several kilometers before the village. Go straight through Sondo, and after another four kilometers of very bad road you will reach Tolo Uwi. Turn left, and after seven kilometers on a much better road you will approach Wane.
Two bays, separated from eachother by blocks of black rock, both have white beaches. This area offers a nice play during the wet season, when the waves are high.

During the northwest-monsoon, the water is calm, so there is a good opportunity to swim and snorkle in the bay. The people, farmers who also fish sometimes, remembered only one foreign visitor, an Australian surfer which came in the wrong season.
West of Wane, several peninsula stretch into the sea. Behind are probably isolated beaches. A trip on foot to the east runs over a holl and along blocks of rock and standing pieces of coral. The trip ends near a big bay where you will see some boats. The beach is covered with seaweed, but on the other side of the bay you will find a nice white beach after all.

The Waworada Bay

For the way back to Bima you can choose between different options. There is a good road from Parado to the surfing paradise Hu'u. The easiest way is the same way back as you came here: via Sondo to Simpasai, and then north to Bima.
You can also turn right at the intersection out Sondo, to drive to the northeast. The road first runs along the western shore and then the northern shore of the Waworada Bay, a relatively long and small U-shaped water which is quiet most of the year.
After a few kilometers you will see a long pier. Here, mangane-ore is mined, but only irregularly and at a low scaler. The ore containing stone-layers are to be found on the surface and are hand-cut by a group of several dozen men, of which some put their wife and children to work as well. A little further, near the villages of Laju and Waworada in the northwestern corner of the bay, the road is worse. This desastrous route is not worth the torture.
Who wants to see the Waworada Bay can best go back to Simpasai and drive until just before Tente, where there is a good road towards the south. It reaches the water near the village of Waworada, just after the crossroads with an unpaved path to Laju. From here it's about 45 kilometers to Sape. The road first follows the northern shore of the bay and then heads for the village of Karumbu. The coast is scattered with villages with pile dwellings, where you can also find bagan and fishing boats. The landscape is strange: normal trees and truncks which raise from the calm waters, and a few small islands just off the coast.

Traditional house

About eight kilometers east of Karumbu, at the right side of the road, is the biggest traditional Bima-house which we have ever seen. The Bima-houses are pile dwellings with roofs of natural materials. Just ahead is the beach of So Rore, which is busy during the weeekends. There is a source and some platforms with roofs. As soon as visitors show up, you will also see hurds of traders, willing to sell you anything. The water is shallow and calm, there are some rafts with seaweed. Six kilometers east of So Rore, the road enters the dry hills near the bay. Small fertile valleys interupt this arid and infertile landscape. Sometimes you will see a truck driving from Karumbu to Rato, where you reach the southern end of the rich valley of Sape.
There is a reasonably good road from Rato until nearly the end of the peninsula which forms the southern shore of the Bay of Sape. It enters the hills almost immediately, and offers a panoramic view over the Sape Valley; a big coconuttree forest on the foreground. After the lingering through the hills you will reach the shore of the bay downhill. The road follows a gray sandbeach and then takes you over hills with a good view over the Bay of Sape.

Pearlfarm near Lambu

Lambu, on 11 kilometers from Rato, is the only village along this coast. The inhabitants are Buginese and Bajau fishermen and farmers. Only very incidentally a demo makes a trip from Sape to here; the local population usually travels by boat.
Five kilometers beyond Lambu it becomes clear why there is a road here. Along the Bay of Solato, a little brother of the big Bay of Sape, is the pearlfaem of PT Bima Sakti Mutiara. The farm was originally developped, just like the other one near Labuhan Lalar on the other side of the island, in cooperation with the Japanese. Nowadays the Japanese only come here to do the implantation of the cores around which the pearls grow.
There are 13 pearlfarms in eastern Indonesia, compared to only one in western Indonesia, in Lampung. There are five on Lombok, six off the coast of Flores and one on Aru, in Maluku. The calm, tropical water with it's clean zand floor is the ideal surface for the pearl cultures. The oisters are stowed away on a coral reef at a depth of eight to ten meters. Oisters that fall off, can be found easily on the clear surface. The water has to be very clean and no boats are allowed. Before the oister has created a pearl of the desires diameter, 18 months have passed.

Visitors are not welcome on the pearlfarms, but this could change in the future. Maybe then you can rent diving gear to have a look at the coral formations with many beautifull fishes and dolphins. You can see whales during the wet season.

The northern coast

Along the northern coast of the district Bima are beautifull bays with water in many colors. They protect fragile fishery villages with pile dwellings. In the inlands you will see an irrigated valley with darkgreen sawah's every once in a while. They form a strong contrast with the dry, bald hills. Just off the coast you can see Gunung Sangeang. It's massive 1949 meter high slopes are steep and it has two peaks.
The coastal villages of Bima are inhabited by Buginese, Bajau (former seanomads) and local Bimanese. These fishers live on pile dwellings very close to the water. There there is enough fresh water available, rice, corn and soy beans are grown as well.
The busstation Jati Baru is located along the road from Bima to the north. A bemo to this station is cheap; buses which take the northern route to Tawali depart here. After the busstation the road follows the edge of a valley where rice is grown, and then steep into the hills. After a boring piece, then a spectacular view over a series of sawah's which follow the flow of the Nangaraba River.

To Sangeang

Further to the northeast you will see the island of Sangeang with it's double vulcanic peak, which guides the traveller almost all the rest of his trip; even when the road enters the hilly inland. The route follows the beach, which is made of coralsand and is dark and unattractive. After fifteen kilometers the road turns towards the inland towards Tawali, main town of the subdistrict Wera.
From Tawali there is a 12 kilometer long road due south, to the villages of Ropo and Nunggi Ntoke, which were kind of isolated until recently. An unpaved road from Tawali to the north leads to the coastal village of Sangean Barat, seven kilometers away. Along this road you can find a cave with stalagmites and stalactites not far from Tawali: Goa Wera. A mystical tie connects this cave with the vulcano on Sangeang.
Shortly after Tawali you enter a big valley where rice and red onions are grown. Men irrigate the ionionfields by hand, using two half-round buckets, named boru. They empty the buckets little by little while walking along the rows of flowers.


Sangeang Darat (darat meant 'soil') is a new village with several thousand residents, which settled here after the eruption of Gunung Api (also named Gunung Sangeang), on the demand of the government. However the vulcano is quiet not, the population is not allowed to settle on the island; officials fear for safety. The residents however do work on their old fields on the slopes of the vulcano.
The best view on the vulcano is from the beach of Sangeang Darat. The fishing boats with the vulcano on the background create a beautifull image. Enthousiastic climbers can take a boat to the island for climbing the Api. It takes several hours according to the local population, but that's probably only for well-trained people.
In the district it is widely accepted that the former residents of the island were skilled in practicing all kinds of occult arts. Thieves would have been punished by burning down their houses - and also other houses in the village - with the use of special oil.

Fishery villages at the coast

The fifty kilometer long road from Tawali to Sape is only occasionally paved, and especially on the steeper parts, so traffic is also possible during the wet season. The last stretch is entirely paved.
The beautiful nature ends near Lamere, the biggest coastal village. Lamere is located a little off the main road, at the end of s hort, bad road with rocks, dust and mudd, depending on the season. Dozens of big fishing boats float around in the crowded bay. The residents are Buginese, descendants of the migrants from South-Sulawesi.

From Bima to Sape

In the hurry to catch the ferry of 8.00 to Komodo, the sleepy traveller often forgets the natural beauty along the fifty kilometer long stretch between Bima and Sape.
Just outside Bima, the road runs through Raba, the governmental center of the district of Bima, a city which is by far not as lively as Bima. The capital was founded by the Dutch in 1908, far away from the palace of the sultan. The road now ascends through a fertile valley with ricefields and small plantations of banana trees.

Picture: Young dancers

Outside the villages are lengge, traditional rice sheds. These are built outside the villages after several fired had destroyed the entire harvest once. However they are not guarded, there is not a single thieve who wants to steal rice. The food should be protected by strong magic, which is said to make the thieve lost after he steals anything.
The road descends through the western branch of the big Valley of Sape, and follows rice-and onionfields which are irrigated by an army of men with buckets.


The center of Sape is about four kilometers from the seaport and the mooring place of the ferry. The crowded city has shops, an old market and restaurants. The road passes several losmen, which are located near eachother, and then reaches the bus station for bemo and benhur. This is the final destination of motorized public transport. Only private transport and benhur are allowed to make the last two kilometers to the seaport.
The road is decorated with houses of fishermen. Here they dry their fish, and you can smell that. All buildings, the mosque included, are built on piles above the water. Television antenna's and satelite dishes are evidence that the 21th century has also reached the pile dwellings as well.

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