Editors' Picks

NIHI Sumba

Authentic, time-forgotten, unique

NIHI Sumba, Hoba Wawi, West Sumba Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

+62 361-757149

See Website

Indagare Adored

At a Glance

A gold standard of sorts for atmospheric and immersive luxury travel, NIHI Sumba (formerly Nihiwatu) conveys a unique sense of place with impeccable creativity and soul. This, it is clear to anyone who has been, is a very special, quite secret paradise. On the southwest corner of Sumba— an island 50 minutes by plane from Bali—NIHI Sumba sits on 560 acres of gorgeous, unspoiled land that includes a mile and a half of private beach (not to mention some of the world's most coveted waves). A collection of 27 thatched-roof villas, with individual pools and stylish interiors (woven textiles and chic pops of color), offer plenty of seclusion. But venture out to Ombak restaurant or Nio Beach Club and you’ll find a house-party-on-the-beach scene. Meeting the people of Sumba, however, is the highlight of a trip to the island, and guests are encouraged to spend time with locals, whether during a surf lesson or a visit to any part of the Sumba Foundation, which endeavors to protect and support the island’s population.

The Standout: Rahasia (or “Secret”), a secluded villa with unbelievable ocean views and private spa-treatment areas
Don’t Miss: Spa Safari™ Nihioka, a daylong experience with meals atop a bluff, a choice of multiple treatments and access to a special beach

Indagare Loves

  • Water-based excursions with the resort’s “watermen,” who are experts in all things aquatic—from diving and spearfishing to snorkeling to teaching guests how to catch a wave
  • Sushi prepared by chefs who regularly visit from Japan
  • The activities such as horseback riding on the beach or hiking through the jungle waterfalls


As one of the only resorts on the almost entirely undeveloped island of Sumba, NIHI Sumba sits on 560 acres of unspoiled land, including a mile and a half of gorgeous and wild private beach. NIHI Sumba was originally built as a collection of rustic bungalows for surfers lured by its globally coveted, exclusive wave break. Under the helm of Chris Burch, the property has since transformed into a luxurious, villa-style resort that doesn’t sacrifice its deep connection to—and protection of—the local community.

Arriving on Sumba (a 50-minute flight from Bali’s Denpasar airport), it is immediately apparent that the island remains untouched by commercialization and tourism. There are few cars, no commercial establishments and zero other visible tourists. Small local villages are set amidst the lush jungle-like terrain, tribes farm their plots of land and transport their crops by horse or mule and children collect buckets of water from the closest well to carry back to their communities. The coastline reveals itself as a seemingly endless stretch of pristine beach and waves crash against boulders that line the shore; but the wow-factor arrival on Sumba is just the beginning. Nestled in the southeast corner of the island, NIHI Sumba is a collection of thatched-roof bales dotted throughout the grounds. Public spaces include the open-air Manara dining room, which serves as the hotel’s library and lounge, where guests mingle over cocktails and enjoy BBQ-style dinners; Ombak, set closer to the sea, which serves breakfast and dinner with stunning views over the turquoise water below; and the Nio Beach Club & Pool, which makes for the perfect rustic lunch, with chic tables in the sand and a pseudo country club menu filled with catch-of-the day seafood and sashimi to match. Relaxed cuisine with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood and locally grown produce is offered at all of NIHI Sumba’s restaurants.

Directly in front of the beach sits the Boathouse, home to the resort’s impressive watermen, who are experts in all things aqua-based, from surfing and snorkeling to diving and spearfishing. After the day’s activities, the Boathouse bar becomes the nucleus of storytelling over cocktails, and a nightly beach fire is lit as the sun sets. While it is the daily activities and excursions that allow guests to truly bond with one another, NIHI Sumba’s perfectly created house party atmosphere and ideally situated public spaces are most conducive to intermingling.

The resort’s 27 villas, ranging from one to five bedrooms, stretch from the beach to the top of the resort and are not only vastly spacious but also come complete with private pools, outdoor (and separate) baths and showers and plenty of privacy for lounging in seclusion. Each villa has its own butler who typically also serves as your dinner waiter, so expect to be addressed by name (preceded by Ibu or Bapak, the Sumbanese words for Ms. and Mr. respectively) and for your food and beverage preferences to be well known and always accommodated. Most villas are designed to reflect the traditional Sumbanese style for homes and feature luxe, stylish interiors that make use of raw natural materials, quality textiles, stylish pops of colors and homemade organic toiletry products. Verdant, wild flora abounds creating a lush, tropical landscape that contribute to the "lost paradise’"vibe.

All activities and excursions at NIHI Sumba are perfectly choreographed. Days are spent hiking through jungle to waterfalls, visiting spiritual tribal villages where guests learn about Marapu traditions like animal sacrifice and the caste and dowry systems in play. Watersports are available in abundance, and avid surfers can not pass up the opportunity to ride “The Wave,” the resort’s exclusive break that can only be used by 10 surfers at any time.

Instead of a standard spa, NIHI Sumba features the NIHI Oka Spa Safari. Reachable by hike through rice paddy fields or open-air safari jeep, the Robinson Crusoe–style set-up sits on a bluff not far from the main resort. The experience includes breakfast made by open-fire grill in a treehouse that juts over the water, an entirely private beach for swimming or sunbathing, an infinity pool furnished with chaise lounges and individual treatment bales overlooking the ocean where guests can enjoy unlimited spa services for as long as they wish. Note: There are often several guests using the spa facility at the same time, so while treatments are private, there could be a handful of other guests using the beach, pool and lounge area.

It is impossible to discuss NIHI Sumba, though, without also addressing its ties to the local community. The property’s original owner, Claude Graves, established the Sumba Foundation in 2001 and a portion of the resort’s profits continue to be repatriated into the foundation. The organization has profoundly impacted the local communities of the island by building wells, founding schools and setting up medical clinics—which have eradicated 85 percent of malaria on the island. Each Tuesday, guests are welcome to participate in community-based projects like visiting a clinic and serving lunch to children at a local school.

Sumba and NIHI Sumba are the gold standard for atmospheric and immersive luxury travel. The island’s fervently felt soul coupled with the resort’s unique sense of place and impeccable creativity create the feeling that you are in a secret world, a paradise of sorts, which only those who go can understand.

Who Should Stay

Adults and families who value a strong sense of place and a highly social atmosphere; couples looking for a unique romantic getaway; honeymooners searching for an atmospheric cast-away experience; travelers who appreciate truly off-the-beaten path cultural experiences; and those looking for a profound community outreach experience.

Written by Sasha Feldman

What's Nearby

More Inspiration

Welcome back,
log in to Indagare

Not a member?

Forgot Password

Enter your email and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Type the first 3 letters to begin