to and from
For whatever reason I've always found getting to Sumba an awful lot easier than getting from it. Something no doubt to do with information. However Sumba, as with most of Indonesia, operates on the principle that information about a place is best found in the place itself. This means that making a visit to anywhere not on a route others are taking requires a fair amount of breath holding, counting to three and diving into dark places hoping that air and light will appear soon. Whether you come by plane or boat your planes may well have to shift a day or so but hopefully by having an understanding of the overall picture of the thing you'll get through it with as much fun and as little stress as possible.
There are are currently two airlines flying to Sumba. Merpati Nusantara Airlines and Trans Nusa. This is mostly contrary to any information that travel agents outside of Bali or NTT will give you. The majority of people believe there to be only one. But again I repeat there are two. Merpati and Trans Nusa. And while the routes fluctuate ever so slightly depending on demand they both roughly follow the following pattern
which when translated means you can definitely fly to/from Denpasar and to/from Kupang and you may be able to fly to Maumere. Between the two airlines there's pretty much a flight in both directions every day with Merpati taking the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday options with a flight to Kupang on Mondays and Trans picking up the Wednesday and Sundays's with occasional flight on Fridays and a Monday flight to Kupang.
Currently Merpati sleeps in Denpasar and Trans Nusa sleeps in Kupang which means the Merpati flights starts first thing in the morning in Denpasar and finishes there late afternoon (11am to Kupang; 4 pm to Denpasar. Trans Nusa does the reverse (9am to Denpasar; 3pm to Kupang).
The Trans Nusa plane is a little smaller, a little friendlier, better serviced and a little cheaper. It's also a little harder to get. Best thing to do is ask in the airport in Denpasar before you leave or phone them.
Both flights in either direction will set you back in or around Rp1,000,000 (Roughly US$110 or €70).
From Kupang you can fly pretty much anywhere in NTT and from Denpasar you can just fly pretty much anywhere.
There are various routes and means here. The Pelni Boat "Awu" stops here twice on its fortnightly circuit which goes: Waingapu, Lembar (Lombok), Denpasar (Bali), Waingapu (Sumba), Ende (Flores), Kupang (Timor), Kalabahi (Alor), Loweleba (Lembata), Maumere (Flores), Makassar(Sulawesi), Maumere (Flores), Loweleba (Lembata), Kalabahi (Alor), Kupang (Timor)
It is definitely the safest and most comfortable option on the water. Phone the Pelni Office to ask one of the dates and then calculate on your own from there (the second Waingapu is three days after the first). A ticket to Denpasar for passengers cost about Rp. 284,000 and to Kupang Rp.170,000 and your pretty safe bringing lots of luggage.
On Friday's there a Ferry to Ende, Sabu, Kupang, Rote.
On Tuesday's there's a Ferry to Aimere in Flores and those of you interested in further adventure could leave from Waikelo in West Sumba to Sape ( Bima, Sumbawa) on your way to spot some Komodo dragons.
All Ferry's are cheap, if not cheerful. Operated by ASDP and can be phoned if you're brave.