heading west by sailboat

Sailing West (Along the Sunda Islands)

With not one but two waterfalls on the tourist trail, the island of Moyo makes for a great stop when sailing west along the Sumba islands of Indonesia.


We spent a good week here, getting to know the local chief and his villagers, while hanging out at the beachside restaurants.

Sailing West
Easy there, old boy
Sailing West
We were the only people there

Pulau Moyo is difficult to get to and once there, difficult to navigate around. It has no roads, so visitors tend to be yachties and local tourists. There is one 5 star resort, Amanwana, where the rich arrive by boat and tuck themselves away from everyone else.

We say it’s worth grabbing a water taxi and visiting during the SE monsoon. There are a few guest houses with restaurants where you can you kick off your flip flops and chill with the local families.

The sunsets are pretty spectacular, and it’s another place we could easily have stayed longer. But we needed to keep sailing west across to the north-western tip of Sumbawa to an island called Kramat.

Sailing West


At dusk, we noticed a trickle of silhouettes above us. Their numbers grew until there were hundreds, maybe thousands, streaming across the sky in one direction. We were watching a colony of bats making the regular commute from its roost in the mangroves to an orchard of choice, somewhere on the next island.

Sailing West
A still from drone footage

These bats use sight rather than echolocation to navigate, and can recognise patterns in low-light. With wing spans sometimes reaching over a metre, Sunda Flying Foxes are fruit bats. And, as the name implies, are little vegetarians preferring to tuck into a mango than a steak.

Sadly they are marked vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of endangered animals. They are also seen as a tasty meal by many local people, and since they sleep in trees during the day, are an easy target for hunters. Add to that the deforestation of mangroves, these harmless animals are caught between a rock and hard place. It’s easy to understand why their populations are declining.

A lot of good work is being done to save mangroves worldwide, and to change local eating habits, so let’s hope these fruit-bat-freeways continue to appear in the twilight sky for years to come.

Watch episode 366 for full immersion into the bat highway, and some rather nice sailing!

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