Sabu Island, East Flores

Sabu only merits no mention in the guidebook because it got dropped, presumably for a combination of space saving and the fact that it was way too much hassle for visitor to go there. But it is fabulous. A place that really does feel like the end of the world.

sabu island 2

Very few visitors make it there, including surfers. Several surf charters anchor offshore each year, but rarely come ashore (though they have caused upset in the past by going ashore on uninhabitted Dana, away to the southwest – the home of departed souls for traditional Sabunese, and not somewhere you’re supposed to go wandering around).

A very small handful of independent surfers turn up on the ferry each year, as do a handful of missionaries, but that’s it (though the best known priest in Seba is, a Dutchman, who’s been there about fifty years).

There is at least one ferry a week from Kupang. It takes about 15 hours, and is very prone to cancellation due to the weather (especially at this time of year; but try to stick it out, even if you have to wait – it’s worth it). From Sabu it usually continues to Waingapu on Sumba, then comes back.

sabu island

The Savu Islands (also spelled as Sabu or Sawu) measure 460,78 square km. and include Rai Hawu, Rai Jua and Rai Dana. The three islands are fringed by coral reef and sandy beaches. Rai Dana is a small, uninhabited island, situated thirty kilometres south-west of Rai Jua.

The land is for the larger part covered with grass and palms. The climate is dry for large parts of the year, due to hot winds blowing from the Australian continent. Most rain falls during the months from November to March. Between 82% & 94% of all rain falls during the west monsoon, with little or no rain falling for the months of August to October. The mean annual rainfall for Savu Island is 1019 mm.

sabu island 3

During the dry season, the islands’ streams dry up, so the islanders depend on wells for their water supply. From April to October, deep ocean swells pound the south facing coastlines.

The form of Savu island resembles an animal lying with its head to the west and its tail to the east. The head is called Haba, the chest and belly Liae, while Dimu in the East is its tail. The island can also be described as a boat, where the hilly and mountainous area of western part or Mehara is categorized as the raised platform at the front part of ship (duru rai) while Dimu, which is a bit flat and low, is categorized as the ship’s stern (wui rai).

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