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Indonesia / NIHI Sumba

Once an enterprise by two avid surfers who washed up on these shores in 1988, it’s the community, wildlife and an overall irrefutable seduction that has shaped this conservational juggernaut.

Affectionately known as the “forgotten island”, the allure of Bali can often distract from Sumba, the island twice its size that NIHI calls home. But evidently, it’s not somewhere that easily slips the mind, as the loyal regulars will attest to. There’s no denying NIHI’s lavish side – forest-clad bathrooms, four-poster beds and infinity pools housed under conical thatch, personal butlers and second-to-none cuisine all feature. Yet, there’s so much to see and do it can’t be helped that the villas simply become a place for forty winks, and every minute spent at home becomes a countdown to returning.

That’s because this conscious castaway has a second-to-none intuition when it comes to crafting unique experiences. They’re a rare insight into this Indonesian island and its indigenous wildlife (there’s two national parks to explore) and Sumbanese culture – leaving guests with something far more precious than they came for. Marapu ceremonies lead by animist priests, heritage villages and megalithic tombs all feature on the excursion lists of the culturally curious; alongside a heart-pumping beach gallop or ocean swim mounted on the backs of the resort’s free-roaming horses, a nod to the local Pasola riding traditions. The eco-adventurers who settle here are taken in by the great efforts of The Sumba Foundation, who have empowered the island’s residents with education, clean water and jobs (90% of the staff are locals). Even the usual resort comforts have levelled up, with a massage in a Bale (Bah-lay) in the middle of nowhere concluding a wander through rice fields and villages on a Spa Safari; and a boutique in the form of a market held to support crafts made by local women. 

Travel notes:

  • 28 villas all with private pools
  • Sumba's remoteness makes it tricker than most to get to, but it’s the perfect place for those wanting more than just a beach getaway
  • NIHI Sumba is a haven for families, especially for children between 5 and 12, who want to expand their minds to other cultures and countries
  • Dining options include Japanese dishes at Kaboku, waterfront tapas at Mex’ikan, the freshest lunch dishes at Nio Beach Club and open-air dining at Ombak Restaurant
  • Within the Spa Safari’s boundaries lies the Villa Rahasia – a utterly private “secret” villa ideal for honeymooners that feels more like a resort in itself
  • A surfer’s paradise for whatever level, the more advanced can ride one of the world’s most coveted left breaks (Occy’s Left)

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When to visit Indonesia?

Bali and Lombok have a hot, tropical climate year round, with May to September being the most popular months to visit when there is less humidity. Bintan Island is best visited during the dry season, March to November.

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