Places to visit

Pulau Satonda, Unique Salt Water Lake of Sumbawa

Pulau Satonda, Unique Salt Water Lake of Sumbawa


Two European scientists named Stephan Kempe and Josef Kazmierczak were researching Satonda Lake in 1984, 1989 and 1996. The result of their studies showed that Satonda Lake is a rare phenomenon because of the salty water with alkaline levels much higher than regular sea water. It was their combined opinion that Satonda basin coincided with the formation of craters which aged back more than 10,000 years. (Microbialites and Hydrochemistry of the Crater Lake of Satonda ", 1996)

Not many people have heard of Pulau Satonda, lying off the northern coast of the island of Sumbawa, close to Pulau Moyo.

Satonda island was formed by volcanic eruption on the sea floor at a depth of 1000 meters, and thrust upwards some millions of years ago. This charming island is located in the Flores Sea and is administratively part of the Nangamiro Village area, in the district of Dompu, in the province of West Nusa Tenggara .

The volcanic island of Satonda looks especially stunning when viewed from the top of Mount Tambora, which is located approximately 30 kilometers from Pulau Satonda. Many say it feels incomplete to climb Mount Tambora without paying a visit to Pulau Satonda as well. Reportedly Satonda is more popular among foreign tourists who make it a sort of stopping point when visiting the Komodo National Park from Bali or Lombok. They usually come to see and experience first-had the stunning white sand, and crystal clear waters for snorkeling.

In addition to the diverse tourist crowd, beginning with the exotic, natural volcanic mountains and beautiful salt water lake in the crater, Satonda also stores a wealth of coral reefs in the surrounding waters. Due to the wealth it has of natural sea coral reefs, Satonda was designated a Marine Nature Park (TWAL) in 1999 by the Ministry of Forestry.

There are several types of coral in the waters around the island Satonda, namely Acroporidae, Xenia sp, Favidae, Sarcophyton sp, sp Labophyton, Hetractris crispa, Nephtea sp, sp Capnella, Lemnalia sp and sp Astrospicularis. In the living corals surrounding this island are also many species of ornamental, exotic fish and other sea creatures. Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imricata) is also often seen swimming and foraging among the Satonda coral reefs. As for the types of marine flora found here, several in abundance are, ketapang (Terminalia catappa), sea pandanus (Pandanus tectorius), fig (Ficus sp), sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), nyamplung (Calophyllum inophyllum), Mentigi (Pempis sp) and tamarind (Tamarindus indica).

In addition to being a tourist destination, the island volcano area of ​​2,600 hectares,  managed by the West Nusa Tenggara Natural Resources Conservation Center, is also frequented by scientists and researchers from both within and outside the country. One reason for this is because of the presence of the island that can not be separated from the phenomenal eruption of Mount Tambora which shook the world on 15 April 1815. The eruption of Mount Tambora rocked several parts of the world, spewing dust and polluting the Earth’s atmosphere for many years, even tearing the thin ozone layer. Its effects also resulted in climate change which led to eight weeks of nonstop rain in the UK which triggered a typhus epidemic that killed 65,000 people. The eruption of Mount Tambora also resulted in darkness which brought on crop failure in China, Europe, and Ireland and led to food shortages in these countries.

In connection with the effects of the eruption of Mount Tambora, the presence of a salt water lake in the Satonda crater is one of the unique and interesting effects to be studied. The Satonda crater resembles a figure eight with a diameter of 950 meters from the south and 400 meters from the east. This ancient lake was formed from the Satonda eruption thousands of years ago. The Satonda volcano which is supposedly older than Mount Tambora, grew along with several parasitic volcanoes scattered around Tambora. The lake that was formed in the crater was once filled with fresh water. It is said that the eruption of Mount Tambora resulted in a tsunami which filled the crater and turned it into the salt water lake that it is today

To Stay

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Visit Tambora Guest House

Jalan Kampung Bali Kecamatan desa pancasila 84191

Blue emOcean

RT 002 RT 003 84316

Bougenvil Homestay

Jalan Gunung Setia no. 41 Kelurahan Brangbiji Sumbawa 84316

Hotel Samawa Rea

Jalan Kebayan no. 4 Sumbawa Besar 84313

Hotel 99

Jalan Garuda 84316

Samawa Transit Hotel

Jalan Garuda No.41 Sumbawa Besar - West Nusa Tenggara 84312

Hotel Dewi

Jalan hassanudin No. 48 84313

Kencana Beach Cottage

Jl Raya Sumbawa - Labuan Poto Tano Km 11 84372

Gili Eco Villas

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

La Rossa

Jalan Pasir Putih, maluk, Sumbawa Besar

Hotel Any Lestari

Jl.Raya Lintas Lakey Hu'u Nangadoro 84271

Lakey peak hotel tomo

RT06 RW00 jalan lintas lakey huu 84313

To Stay

As this island is uninhabited, the nearest recommended accommodation to Pulau Satonda are in Sumbawa, 50 km. To the southeast. Below are the addresses and contact information for two of the recommended accommodations.

Samawa Seaside Cottages
Tanjung Menangis (Opposite Pulau Moyo),
Sumbawa Besar 84312
50 Km. Southeast of Pulau Satonda
Phone:  +62 – 371 – 21754

Samawa Transit Hotel
Jalan Garuda No. 41
Sumbawa Besar  (around 50 km. Southeast of Pulau Satonda)


Prepare your clothes, towels, snorkeling equipment, and all you will need for the day when you visit the exotic volcanic island. Saltwater lakes and calm waters around the island will attract you to swim and observe them.

Bring enough to eat and drink during the day as the island is uninhabited, with no restaurants or shops.

Bring or keep the trash you produce (eg, from food or drink packing ). If there aren’t any trash bins found on the island. Help us to preserve the natural beauty of this island.

Wear something comfortable, clothes and shoes conducive to climbing, if you will be doing the climb up to Satonda Lake.

You may not take action that leads to destruction and environmental pollution around the island. This island’s ecosystem has a unique richness that is not found in many other places in the world. Therefore, it is mandatory for any visitors to participate in maintaining and preserving it.

Get There

Administratively, Satonda island is located in the district of Nangamiro, Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara . To reach Satonda Island there are several alternative paths to choose from.

There are only a few local flights to Bang Bidji airport at Sumbawa besar. Take a flight from Bali or Lombok to the town of Sumbawa Besar, centrally located on the island of Sumbawa
Merpati flies twice weekly and Trans Nusa also has flights to Sumbawa Besar. Please check with the airlines.

From Sumbawa Besar, the journey to the Nangamiro village can be reached in approximately 8 hours by car. If you are from Dompu, the journey to the small village would be approximately 5 hours.

From the Nangamiro harbor, Satonda Island can be reached by boat in about a half to one hour’s ride. Boat rates are approximately Rp. 25,000, - per person. Another alternative is to take cruises from Bali or Lombok, towards the Flores area. The cruise ship is often stopped for a visit to the Komodo National Park before proceeding to Satonda

To Do

Pulau Satonda is an uninhabited, natural tourist destination with many unique and beautiful sights and experiences, ranging from white sandy beaches, to ancient volcanic caves. There is a seemingly inexhaustible list of wonders such as the natural mountains, the unique salt water lake, and a wealth of underwater parks to name just a few. These are the main attractions but as you visit and explore this island paradise, you will find a new adventure at every turn.

To reach the island which is located approximately 3 kilometers from the Sanggar peninsula on Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara , you can take a motorized outrigger boat from the nearest village, which is Nangamiro Village. During the trip which normally takes approximately one hour, if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the dolphins swimming across the waters of the Flores Sea.

Upon arrival, as afore-mentioned, the beach is fairly deserted with stretches of sparkling white sand. It is only a short walk on a path paved with concrete slabs from the jetty of the inland lake. The ascent to the Crater Lake begins around the middle of the island. The road will begin to climb and climb, and in not long at all you will have reached the summit of Mount Satonda. The view from the summit is a crater-shaped in the figure of an eight. This unique and beautiful lake is called Lake Satonda. It is green in color and lies peacefully in the middle of the crater surrounded by a forest of green trees. Singing birds perched in the trees would be the only sound you would hear in the silence presented on this uninhabited volcanic island.

Upon arrival at the lake, swimming is certainly a thing that should not be missed. You can experience (and even taste!) this salt water body, which has no point or gap which connects it to the sea. The water here is even saltier than sea water. Another interesting find, is that the ripples of the lake, move with the same natural ebb and flow of the sea water surrounding Satonda itself. For this reason, this impressive, natural phenomena, being more than worthy of preservation, is highly maintained and protected.

Salt water from the lake with varying depths of up to 69 meters has the acidity levels of pH 7.08 to 8.27. Beneath the surface are not very many fish and other sea creatures, there are only a few small fish. These fish also contain high levels of salt. However, apparently due to the salt water conditions, it is the right medium for red algae to thrive on the rocks surrounding, as well as found in the lake.

Lake Satonda, with water temperatures from 28.3 º C-39, 0 º C is said to have similarities to the ancient sea conditions. This conclusion is obtained based on the results of a study of fossil from corals and algae that live in the lake. Therefore, it is no wonder that many researchers from both within and outside the country are interested to visit this lake for extensive research. In 2008, researchers from BP Migas and Gadjah Mada University even found that reefs in Lake Satonda contain oil and gas. But of course, this area should not be a mining area.

At the lake, you will see the stone fruit trees. The stones are deliberately suspended by travelers who had visited there. Because supposedly hanging stones represent prayers and hopes of those who believed would come true.

Other interesting activities you can do while visiting Satonda is snorkeling in the waters around the island which are calm with almost no waves. Satonda Island Beach is a white sandy beach with sloping bottom waters (in the east and south of the island) and steep sections (north and west)as well. Satonda which has been designated as Natural Park of the Sea (TWAL) in 1999 does have the potential richness and beauty of the sea.

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