Sumbawa’s Sea Gypsies

Sumbawa is a jagged island in Nusa Tenggara lying between Komodo and Lombok. It includes a lot of twisted and protruding peninsulas that form a protective layer of bays for all the islands along the northern coast; which includes Satonda, Sangeang and Moyo. These beautiful and protected areas provide ideal breeding grounds for macro creatures, has vibrant and deep walls along with crystal clear waters. Although, it is quite often disregarded as a diving destination; it does boast unblemished coral reefs and a rich marine life.


For generations the Bajau people have been living a seafaring life, traveling around the waters of Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Borneo, some not even setting foot on land for years. Nowadays, the Bajau populations are settling on land and spending less of their lives at sea. On the island of Sumbawa the Bajau began building their stilted homes on small islands of land and since then have used Porites boulders, sand and other stones to reclaim land and build a more settled village.


The village was set on the island of Sumbawa which sits between Lombok to the west and Flores to the East. And, as you can image, the island is surrounded by lush coral reefs. Most of the coral was very shallow, within snorkeling depths.


The Sea Gypsies live from the sea using their underwater backyard to farming oysters for pearls and corals for the aquarium trade. The Sea Gypsies are also skilled fishermen and fish daily for food and a source of income.



Photo by Monteverdo Barnsley on Unsplash