Lesser Sunda Islands of East Indonesia
Nusa Tenggara or Lesser Sunda Islands
is part of Indonesia. What is called Nusa Tenggara starts in Lombok and
contains all the islands east of Lombok. For the website I will only
talk about the islands I have personally visited: Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo,
Flores and Sumba.
My memories of these islands are fantastic. Scenery, culture, people, it
seemed to change from village to village. Lomboks' population is primarily Muslim, but
at Flores you will find only Muslims on the coastline while land inwards, you will find many
Sumbawa's population is primarily Muslim but at Sumba there is a mix of local beliefs,
Islam and Christianity. These mixes have created an enormous variety in culture.
You can not say that you have visited Nusa Tenggara by visiting only one or two
It does not include Sumbawa as I didn't really visit it. All I did was to
take an overnight bus from Bima direct to Lombok. As Bali is not considered
to be part of Nusa Tenggara there will be another section about
Everywhere in Nusa Tenggara you will find water transport, fishing boats,
ferries and in some places even tourist sailing boats, like here in Labuan Bajo
Getting there and away
The main entry to Nusa Tenggara is Denpasar, Bali, Ngurah Rai Airport
(Bali International Airport). From here you can either
fly to further islands.
Here is a list of airports at the Lesser Sunda Islands
There are flights to almost all the bigger islands. Flights are usually
easy to arrange when arriving at an airport or in a city. However, the
lines, especially in between lesser used airports can be unreliable and
delays can take hours.
The Pelni - the ferry system of Indonesia
A very interesting alternative is to use the Indonesian ferry: the pelni.
The network of pelnis is enormous. It is certainly advised to take at least
once a pelni, just for the sake of the experience. It's a mini society in itself.
Although for time reasons you may prefer flying from island to island, it
can be interesting enough to make the shorter journeys, for example Lombok -
Sumbawa and Sumbawa - Flores by Pelni.
The extensive network of the Pelni in Indonesia (source Wikipedia)
Routes of the Pelni in Lesser Sunda Islands
Nusa Tenggara has no railway system, all overland transport goes by bus.
Private transport can arranged. Buses are cheap. If you decide to cover a
larger distance, use the express buses instead of the cheaper but much
slower local bus. For example, the bus from Ende to Labuan Bajo at Flores
takes 3 times more time by local bus then by express bus (including changing
2 times). There are for example express buses between islands. You can take
a bus from Denpasar to Java including a ferry ticket. Or a bus from Bima to
For shorter distances you can use the mini buses although they tend to be
overcrowded won't take your bicycle. It's not uncommon to see mini buses
hanging over to one site because of people hanging outside. They're
certainly not the safest way of transport.
Waiting for the bus in Maumere
Although bicycles are widely used, it's not considered to be a form of
transport for longer distances. This will give you the opportunity to get
very easy in contact with locals who will be curious to find out what you
are doing. Many will find it hard to believe that cycling is even an option
let alone can be fun.
Bicycle shops are very hard to find in Nusa Tenggara. Bali, especially
Denpasar, is your best option to get materials. As I didn't need any
materials and I didn't like Denpasar much, I left quickly.
If you come for a short time, make sure your bicycle is in top notch
condition as good spare materials are hard to find. Tires are not difficult
but are usually 2 inch wide and heavy. Tubes are no problem. All other
spares I recommend to bring yourself.
Accommodation and hotels in Nusa Tenggara
Finding a hotel in Nusa Tenggara can be a little difficult. The bigger
cities like Maumere, Ende, Mataram and Waingapu have accommodation although
not always at western high standards.
To me, it is one of the things you have to accept when traveling in this
part of the world. Accommodation can be very cheap. For a few dollars you can
have a reasonable room with toilet, shower and air-conditioning.
For more up-market hotels we have set up a few pages to help you out.