The review:

NIHI Sumba

'Luxe wilderness lodge meets remote tribal island' sums up NIHI Sumba, found in eastern Indonesia.

Put on the map by adventurous surfers, Nihi Sumba started life as a no-frills surf lodge; today it’s an upscale yet deeply authentic eco-retreat, rooted in the traditional customs of Sumba, offering guests an entry point into this wild, untamed land where ancient folklore is part of day-to-day life.

“Backed by jungle and with a pristine beach where horses roam, NIHI Sumba is an experience-led retreat cossetted by authentic luxury. Criss-crossed pathways take you to the clifftop spa, organic gardens, waterfalls and lost-in-time villages that you will never forget.”

Things to do

Although it’s hard not to sit mesmerised by the ocean panorama, dotted with surfers catching the famous left-handed break ‘Occy’s Left’, NIHI Sumba is to be experienced. Get out on the waves yourself with an instructor and photographer, or canter through the rolling surf at sunset on a Sumba horse. Other ocean pursuits include fishing, paddle-boarding and diving. You can also head into the jungle for treks or bike rides to waterfalls, rivers or visit a thatched village to learn about their way of life. The Spa Safari should not be missed – it starts with a scenic hike past rolling hills and rice fields to the NihiOka Spa where you can indulge in a massage, body wrap or organic facial in a cliffside spa room before taking a dip in the gorgeous infinity pool.

Sleeping

The resort is scattered along hundreds of acres of waterfront, between a glorious private beach and a truly untamed jungle. Accommodation comes in a range of light and airy villas of varying sizes – all elegantly rustic with sweeping views and private pools. Designed to fit perfectly in its surroundings, each villa beams with local teak wood, Sumba artwork, soaring grass-thatched roofs and huge doors that bring ocean views into focus. Space, light, natural materials and proximity to nature are defining features which give a real sense of place from dawn to dusk.

 

Food & Drink

As you might expect the food at NIHI Sumba is inspired by the surrounds, so it’s a great opportunity to explore Indonesian fare. Breakfast might be pandan pancakes, lunch nasi goreng and dinner a spicy laksa curry with seafood, but you can also enjoy western dishes too and the chefs are happy to cook to your needs. The organic garden is a great source of tropical fruit and abundant vegetables, so delicious freshly made salads, smoothies and stir-fries are ultra-tasty; and the Nio Beach Club is the perfect spot to re-fuel with tacos, fresh fish and pizzas for a post-surf meal.

What Stands Out

It’s lovely to think as a tourist you can make a difference to the places you visit, but so often it’s hard to know where your money is going. At NIHI Sumba, you can see the benefits of force-for-good tourism everywhere you look – from the ninety percent of staff employed locally to the deep care for its environment – the resort runs off biofuels and there is an on-site organic garden. The property also runs the Sumba Foundation which provides humanitarian aid through village-based projects such as ensuring clean water and malaria prevention. The link between the local community and the hotel is strong which is heart-warming to see.

Best For

Getting here is an adventure – from Bali, it’s an hour flight, then 1.5 hours through remote countryside before you reach the resort. If you love being off the beaten track, NIHI is a fantastic choice and very different from other island resorts as it really embodies its natural environment and is proud to be Sumbanese. We recommend it for active couples, honeymooners and families with older kids who can get involved with surfing, yoga, mountain biking and horse riding. Plus, the cultural shift here is pronounced – an ideal education to the diversity of the world.

The Verdict

A real destination hotel, NIHI Sumba shines on so many levels – from the incredibly beautiful natural location to the opportunities for cultural immersion in Sumbanese life. With an array of activities in the surrounding jungle and the ocean, a stay at NIHI is more than just a holiday. We suggest a stay of at least a week but talk to us about extending your trip, perhaps with a sailing trip around Flores and the Komodo Islands for the ultimate Indonesian adventure.

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