Moyo island sumbawa sunset

Ultimate Diving And Travel Guide For Moyo and Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

Indonesia is a vast country that I come back to again and again. Sumbawa Island was never on my list as I had always visited more tourist driven islands like Lombok or Flores but now it was time to fill the gap I had in the lesser Sunda islands. Sumbawa is famous for its beautiful landscapes, beaches, surfing, diving, and whale sharks. It is definitely off the beaten path especially given how close Lombok, Bali, and Flores (home to Komodo National Park) are but I think it is a matter of time before Sumbawa has its moment.

Moyo island drone sumbawa

I spent a week diving and exploring the island of Sumbawa and absolutely loved it. The island is absolutely massive so by no means did I explore even a little bit of the places that are available.

Moyo island sumbawa sunset

Where is Sumbawa Island?

Sumbawa is located in the middle of the lesser Sunda island chain. It’s sandwiched between Lombok and Flores, which is home to the Komodo National Park. It’s a large island that spans 15,000km or about 3x the size of Bali.

Sumbawa is lesser known as a tourist destination than its neighbors Lombok and Flores but that could quickly be changing as more of the Indonesian islands get developed. I came here after a trip to Lombok to explore dive sites that I had not visited before.

Digital nomad remote work at a beach in lombok, indonesia

Where are the tourist hotspots of Sumbawa?

Sumbawa is a stunning island that is in its infancy stages of tourism as I write this in 2024. It’s still untouched by mass tourism like nearby islands of Bali, Lombok, and Komodo but the infrastructure is definitely being laid down for a boom. Until then, this island remains difficult to get to but a treasure to those that make the journey.

Moyo island sumbawa sunset

While the island is very big (3x the size of Bali), there are only a few areas that has been developed for tourism. Even the areas that are developed for tourism remains remote and undeveloped.

sunset bungalows moyo island sumbawa

West coast of Sumbawa

The west coast of Sumbawa is a surfer paradise. This area can be reached by ferry from Lombok relatively quickly and there are a collection of different dive resorts and surf camps along the coast. The beaches and landscapes are incredibly beautiful and remind me of much of the landscapes in Lombok.

I had debated coming to this part of Sumbawa as it was easier to reach from Lombok but ultimately decided on Moyo island.

I had dived previously in Lombok with Blue Marlin and they exclusively dive the strait between Lombok and Sumbawa. The diving there is quite brilliant but I wanted to try something new. Surfing also wasn’t high on my priority list as there is so much surfing to be done in Lombok.

Moyo Island

Moyo island is a remote island just north of Sumbawa Besar, one of the main towns of the island. Sumbawa Besar is also home to the main airport of the island which means it is “easier” to reach Moyo island. From the airport, it is a 1h speedboat ferry ride away to Moyo island.

Moyo island sumbawa

Moyo island is home to an incredible underwater landscape that is still untouched by the mass diving crowds. The diving and the island itself are both spectacular. After talking to other travelers, they all preferred the diving in Moyo island to that of West Sumbawa which means I made the right choice!

Incredible sunsets at moyo island

Getting to Moyo Island

Moyo island is not an easy place to get to. As with all good things, they come to those who wait (or are willing to wait).

By flight from Bali and Lombok + Ferry

The primary way to get to Moyo island is by flight from Bali or Lombok to Sumbawa Besar (the main city on Sumbawa), and then a ferry to Moyo island.

There are two daily flights that leave from Bali and make a stopover in Lombok to pick up more passengers (you do not get off) before ending in Sumbawa. These flights leave in the morning and takes roughly 2h to get to Sumbawa after factoring in the layover in Lombok. The return flight to Bali functions on the same schedule.

From Sumbawa Besar, you can take a 10 minute taxi to the small pier at Pantai Goa which will cost 100k IDR. This is very pricey for Indonesian standards but given how remote Sumbawa is, there is no Gojek yet so the price is set by the taxi mafia.

Ferry from Sumbawa Besar to Moyo

From the pier at Pantai Goa, you have two options to get to Moyo, the private speedboat and the public ferry.

The public ferry is 100k IDR and leaves every day around 1pm. Give or take 1h because they leave when the boat is filled up with enough people. The public boat takes slightly over 2h and is not a real ferry but more of a local passenger boat. The locals transfer all their supplies on this boat including livestock. My Wingsair flight from Lombok/Bali landed in Sumbawa around 10:45am and I was at the pier by 11:15. This means you’ll need to wait at the pier for roughly 2 hours in order for the ferry to depart.

labuan aji moyo island Sumbawa
Arriving on Moyo Island

The private speedboat will take half as long and will leave whenever you want. The cost of this boat is anywhere between 1.5m IDR and 2.5m IDR depending on your negotiation skills. I was with only one more person and I said 1.5m is my final price which they accepted. We didn’t want to wait two hours at the pier given there was really nothing around the place so we ended up paying the private ferry price. Unfortunately on my day of arrival, there were no other tourists otherwise the cost of this boat would have been cheaper on a per person basis.

Once we arrived at the main town on Moyo Island, it was another 15 minute drive by scooter to the dive resort at Blu EmOcean. Roads on Moyo are very bumpy but this is a remote island village after all!

By ferry from Lombok

Another way that many people do this trip is via ferry from Lombok. I don’t recommend this method as it will take the entire day and cost the same amount as simply flying to Sumbawa. From Lombok Labuan Kayangan port on its north east coast, you can take a ferry to the west coast of Sumbawa.

From the ferry station in Sumbawa, you will then take a coach bus 4h to Sumbawa Besar town. From the town, you can take the ferry to Moyo (same as the section above).

What to do in Moyo Island?

Moyo island is a pretty large island that is not very well connected. There are probably many incredible sights to see on Moyo Island but realistically there are only a few that are accessible for the average person. Aside from diving which is definitely the main highlight for me, the main waterfall on Moyo island is a must visit attraction.

diving moyo island sumbawa with ship

Labuan Aji Village

All trips will start in the main village. People still live in the traditional manner here. Houses are simple and life is slow. The primary revenue source of the local people are sesame farming and most sustain themselves off of fishing. There aren’t even any proper warungs in the main town which is how you know you’re in a remote place.

labuan aji moyo island village
labuan aji moyo island village

I would mainly focus on renting a scooter or a scooter with a driver to go to the next part of this section.

Mata Jitu Waterfalls

The Mata Jitu waterfalls are an absolutely stunning display of nature and a must visit sight when visiting Moyo island. While I came here for diving, most people actually come here exclusively to see this waterfall. Even Princess Diana has visited this waterfall. While you might seem like this would attract the masses, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Moyo island Mata Jitu waterfalls on Sumbawa Indoneisa

I went here on a morning where I wasn’t diving from the Blu EmOcean resort. You can either hire a local to drive you with a scooter, or you can drive yourself with a scooter. Both options will cost around 100-150k depending on the day. I elected to drive with my own scooter because I hate sitting on the back of one.

Moyo island Mata Jitu waterfalls on Sumbawa Indoneisa

The road up to the waterfall is bumpy and not easy so I don’t recommend this for those that aren’t comfortable with scooters. It’s a roughly 30 minute bike ride from the main town to the waterfalls.

Moyo island Mata Jitu waterfalls on Sumbawa Indoneisa
Moyo island Mata Jitu waterfalls on Sumbawa Indoneisa

Once we arrived, it was an absolute thing of beauty. I honestly was left breathless at how beautiful this waterfall was. Everyone undersold this place and it definitely defied any expectations I had. Mata Jitu is home to limestone pools that reflect a beautiful turquoise green water from its white sandy bottom. There are multiple terraced pools that are fed from a large waterfall at the beginning. It reminds me of the Krka waterfalls in Croatia but without any people. I really can’t describe it and give it any justice so just look at these photos.

Moyo island Mata Jitu waterfalls on Sumbawa Indoneisa

The most amazing part? We were completely alone in this waterfall without a single other tourist anywhere close. The water was refreshing and not cold and I ended up swimming in multiple levels of the waterfalls. Because of the limestone formations, walking along the edges of the pools was not slippery which made it great for taking photos.

All in all, do not come to Moyo without visiting this waterfall as it truly is one of those special places.

Diving in Moyo Island

Diving in Moyo island is a must. The underwater marine life is fantastic and the corals are still very healthy. I would say the diving here could be comparable to some of the dive sites in Komodo or even Raja Ampat. While you won’t see the same amount of large pelagic fish like mantas, the schooling fish and variety will surely keep you busy.

Best of all? There are only two dive shops in the whole island so you will almost always dive these sites to yourself while in Komodo, you will be diving with multiple boats at the same time (Komodo is still amazing though).

Where to stay on Moyo Island?

There are only a few places to stay on Moyo Island and on Sumbawa Besar (the mainland). I ended up staying at Blu EmOcean for my stay on Moyo Island. Here are the options:

sunset bungalows moyo island sumbawa
Sunset Bungalows in Moyo Island

Blue EmOcean is a beautiful ecolodge located a few kilometers north of the main port town in Labuan Aji. There are only a handful of places to stay on the island and the property at Blu EmOcean looked like a special place. The resort has changed owners in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now run by a young and passionate Brit who has grand visions for the resort.

blu emocean moyo island sumbawa
blu emocean moyo island sumbawa
blu emocean moyo island sumbawa

There’s also a dive shop located on the premise which operates daily dives around Moyo reminding me of the Scuba Junkies Komodo resort that I did my divemaster course in. The resort is also facing due west which means you’ll see some of the most amazing sunsets of your life at this place. Furthermore, given its remote location on a remote island, every evening you’re greeted with the most beautiful display of stars above you, reminding me of my time spent in Zanzibar on the beach.

blu emocean moyo island sumbawa
blu emocean moyo island sumbawa
blu emocean moyo island sumbawa
blu emocean moyo island sumbawa

Whale Shark trip in Sumbawa

Without a doubt, one of the most incredible things you can do in Sumbawa is the whale shark tour. The area around Saleh Bay is home to resident whale sharks that frequent the bay year round. This bay has turned into a sanctuary of sorts and has the most resident whale sharks out of anywhere else in the world.

You can do whale shark tours from Lombok on a multi night excursion, a day trip from Moyo island or from the resorts near Sumbawa Besar. It’s a 2.5h boat ride from Moyo island to Saleh Bay and the day trips will leave around 3-4am in the morning as the best time for the whale sharks is in the morning.

The unique thing about Sumbawa is that you are allowed to dive with the whale sharks and it is almost a guarantee to see whale sharks. This is similar to my experience on my Maldives liveaboard but I was never able to dive with the sharks.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t really get it together at Blu EmOcean to make this trip happen as there simply weren’t enough people to make the trip economical. For that matter, if you are intent on doing this excursion, I would recommend staying at a bigger resort on the mainland of Sumbawa.

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  1. […] Looking to explore the underwater wonders of Indonesia? The Ultimate Diving and Travel Guide for Moyo and Sumbawa Island is your go-to resource for planning an unforgettable diving adventure. From colorful coral reefs teeming with marine life to thrilling drift dives and stunning underwater landscapes, these islands offer a unique diving experience for all levels of divers. Don’t miss the chance to discover the beauty and biodiversity of Moyo and Sumbawa Island on your next diving trip! Source link […]