Simply put, the west coast of Sumbawa is stunning. Sweeping bays fringed with wide, sandy beaches, clear blue water topped with frothing rolling surf. Every crested headland reveals yet another amazing view. It almost seems pithy to relegate some of the coast to “second best” but the section of coastline south-west from Jelenga, taking in Maluk, Rantung Bay, Tropicals and Sekongkang is especially stunning.
If you’re a surfer, you’ll be in surfer heaven. The legendary Scar Reef is located opposite the village of quiet coastal village of Jelenga. Supersucks, one of the finest left barrel in the world is walking distance from Maluk township and a little further south, the sprawling seaside settlement of Sekongkang has three beautiful beaches with excellent breaks; Yoyo’s at the northern end of Rantung Bay and a more mellow beginner’s break directly opposite the beach. The next bay down is Tropical, another superb beach with good breaks.
Don’t despair if you’re not a surfer. Most of Sumbawa’s waves break onto reefs at least 100m or more off the beach. Inside the reef, the waters are flat and calm. The tree-line beach of Pantai Lawar just north of Rantung has a gorgeous lagoon adjacent to the beach. It’s a perfect place for swimming and snorkelling when the tide is high. In the evenings you’ll have to share it with local fishermen, the scent of their catch grilling over a driftwood fire wafting in the air as the sun sets over the Alas Strait.
The beaches along this part of the coastline are significant nesting sites for Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles. Unfortunately, turtle hunters and egg collection by local villagers have helped pushed these species into decline but improved awareness and conservation efforts are helping them make a comeback. The turtles lay their eggs all year round but the peak seasons are between the months of May and November. Take a torch down to the beach at night and if you’re lucky you might just spot one coming ashore to lay her eggs. Use the torch sparingly though as bright lights can be a deterrent. Also, pay a visit to the turtle hatchery adjacent to the beach at Rantung where to improve their chances of survival, hatchings are raised for three months before being released to the ocean.
Sekongkang Waterfall (also known as Prepas Waterfall) is a lovely little cascade on the Sekongkang River about just west of the village. The cascade flows all year round, tumbling over a huge granite boulder blocking the riverbed and forming a deep natural pool surrounded by tropical forest and dragonflies zipping around in the dappled sunlight. It’s a great spot for a swim and a picnic.
To reach the falls, turn off the main Maluk-Sekongkang Road on the south side of the bridge over the Sekongkang River, and follow the dirt road inland alongside the river for until you reach the PTNNT dam (about 1km). There’s a fairly well defined walking track from there up to the falls about 1km upstream. The trail can be a bit slippery but it’s a fairly easy 20-30min hike up to the cascades.
The beaches further east of Sekongkang are just as fabulous but the “road” connecting through to Serejong, Tatar and Lunyuk has been intermittently opened and closed due to damage for years. It’s unlikely to be passable to anything other than a four wheel drive if at all. If you’re intent on travelling that way, get the latest information from locals in Sekongkang before attempting it. Alternatively, pack a picnic and spend a day exploring on foot from Sekongkang. It’s quite possible you’ll find a beautiful beach all to yourself.
The town of Maluk can be reached in 3hrs from Sumbawa Besar along the good Trans-Sumbawa Highway, 1.5hrs if you’re coming straight off the ferry at Poto Tano. Newmont’s nearby copper mine is located nearby and the influx of expat workers and money means that Maluk is well serviced in terms of ATM’s, mini marts and accommodation. Unfortunately, the town itself is rather drab so most people prefer to stay out of town where there’s a good range of accommodation ranging from super cheap to luxury spaced out along this section of coast.