This Breathtaking Indonesian Island Filled With Horses Is Only An Hour's Flight From Bali

It has been left as one of the world's "hidden" gems.

Cover image via Phinemo/Explorations Company

An hour's flight east of Bali lies an Indonesian island where wild horses run free and white sandy beaches resemble paradise...

Sumba has been left as one of the world's "secret" gems, while other popular holiday destinations like Lombok and Bali take the forefront for tourism

Image via Phinemo

Mata Yangu Waterfall, Sumba.

Image via Travel Marbles

Here are seven things to know about this magical island that could be your next escapade:

1. Horses have been a part of Sumba's cultural identity since the mid-18th century. They are often used in horse racing and at events.

Image via Travel Marbles

Sumba horses, generally known as Sandalwood Ponies, derive its name from the island's main export – sandalwood.

Historically, Sumba was also known as Sandalwood Island or Sandal Island for its fragrant wood sought by Chinese noblemen.

Unfortunately, most of the island has been deforested leaving patches of thin soil on limestone savannahs.

2. Unlike many Southeast Asian islands, Sumba isn't lush or green – instead it's dry and arid

Image via City Nomads

Rather than having steep volcanoes like most Indonesian islands, Sumba's landscape is low and filled with limestone hills.

Most of the land has been cleared for planting crops, such as maize and cassava, a root that looks similar to a sweet potato.

3. Many Sumbanese still live in traditional villages with thatched huts

Image via Travel Marbles

Scattered throughout the countryside are thatched traditional houses clustered around unique megalithic tombs, where villagers pay homage to their ancestors.

Although Sumba is twice the size of Bali, it has only one-sixth of its population.

Sumbanese are predominantly Catholics. However, there are also a number who practise animism.

4. Sumbanese celebrate the Pasola Jousting Festival, where they ride on horses and charge against each other with spears

Image via iRadiofm

Pasola Jousting Festival is an annual tradition to welcome the new harvest.

At the event, two groups of men charge at each other on horseback and try to hit their rivals with 'pasol' javelins or spears.

The key is to also avoid getting hit themselves.

5. There are a few luxurious resorts on the island which cater to travellers looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life

Image via Nihi Sumba
Image via Watukaka
Image via Telegraph UK

Some of which includes Nihi Sumba and Watukaka, among others. There are also several Airbnbs scattered throughout the island.

6. Sumba has several gorgeous spots to visit, such as Weekuri Lagoon, Bawana beach, Waimarang emerald pool, and Lapopu waterfall

Weekuri Lagoon.

Image via Aditya Rahman/Flickr

Air Terjun Waimarang.

Image via Phinemo

Kanabu Wai

Image via @bocahsawah/Instagram

Many of Sumba's attractions have been preserved as a result of being less touristy compared to other islands.

So, if you're looking for an adventure, you will definitely enjoy its beautiful treks and waterfalls. Two that should be checked out are Kanabu Wai and Tanggedu waterfalls.

7. Aside from waterfalls, other activities you can do are surfing, and immersing yourself in the local culture by visiting an ikat weaving factory and Sumba's traditional villages

Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern fabric.

Image via Travel Marbles

Rantenggaro Village

Image via Travel Marbles

There are tour packages that plan trips to different parts of the island. However, you can also choose to plan your own itinerary.

Have you heard of any other "hidden gems" to visit? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you're sick of the usual holiday spots, here are more places to check out: