When it comes to far-flung island romance, Nihiwatu hotel is nothing short of magical. A village of 21 luxury villas clinging to the hillside above a perfect tropical beach, its distinctive thatch-roofed villas and private pools offer luxurious respite from the stresses of modern life.
A Nihiwatu experience is all about the outdoors: stroll through the estate’s winding paths, lush gardens and rugged beach. This laid-back surfer’s paradise calls for underwater adventures – snorkelling, diving and spear-fishing are all on offer here – but there’s plenty to do if you’ve yet to find your sea legs, too. Unwind at the breeze-kissed spa, visit the stables for bush-to-beach excursions, follow trails through unspoilt valleys and discover the ancient culture and colourful traditions Nihiwatu is working so hard to preserve.
I think it’s all very well to read what tour operators and travel agents want you to believe, but it is so much better to find out what people who have actually stayed at a resort think
We just returned from a magical visit to Nihiwatu and we are already planning our next trip back. The unspoiled beauty of Sumba and the luxury, tranquility and unbridled attention and service at Nihiwatu is unparalleled.
Every day was a unique experience, created exclusively for us. From the Spa Safari, to the rice paddy hike, paddle boarding, fishing or the village excursion to the massages overlooking the Indian Ocean, to the simple but sumptuous meals – we were in heaven
A few other facts about Nihiwatu that you should know
1. Rates include all meals (American breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon teas and coffees, soft drinks and bottled water from the minibar).
2. Staff can also organise torch-lit dinners on the beach, treehouse barbecues and in-villa lobster feasts – just give them a day’s notice. The resort’s legendary surf break is just off the coast; for a gentler splash in the waves head to Tranquility Beach, a 15-minute drive away.
3. The resort sits in 567 acres of land, private beach with watersports facilities, spa, equestrian centre, beach cinema, ping-pong table, pool tables, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Minibar, free bottled water, tea and coffee-making facilities, Nihiwatu natural toiletries.
4. The villas are crowned by distinctive conical roofs thatched with local Alang Alang grass, all the villas encourage breeze-cooled outdoor living, with private gardens, pergola-shaded bales and sweeping ocean views.
5. There is no communal pool at the resort, but each villa has its own sleek freshwater private pool.
6. In a sheltered creek framed by pandanus trees, Nihiwatu’s open-air spa pavilions look out over the beach and crashing waves. Worthy of its name, the Sumbanese Dream treatment combines a mineral-rich foot bath, relaxing massage, lavender-scented scrub and aloe-infused body mask. For an out-of-this-world experience, book a babysitter and embark on the Nihi Oka Spa Safari, a journey to a secluded valley where four bamboo-clad couples’ treatment rooms await. Pick one of the home-made aromatic oils and indulge in a stress-busting massage with views of peaceful paddy fields.
7. Responsible luxury is the guiding principle of Nihiwatu’s eco-friendly approach. Much of the restaurants’ produce is grown in the resort’s organic garden, fed by a clever composting and water-recycling system. The hotel’s green ethos extends beyond its walls, too, with community outreach programmes in local villages, a turtle hatchery and a foundation working to clean water and reduce malaria on the island.
Eating and drinking at Nihiwatu
Sheltered beneath a spectacular thatched roof, laid-back Ombak is the resort’s gastronomic hub, blessed with sweeping ocean views. Set right on the sand, tables for two are romantically lit with lanterns recalling lobster nets. Chef Bernard Prim makes the most of the garden’s organic produce and the island’s line-caught fish: don’t miss his archipelago menu of Indonesian fare flavoured with lemongrass, sambals and palm sugar.
Just steps from the sea, Nio Beach Club serves simply grilled fish, sizzling satay and pizzas fresh from its large clay oven.
Open-air Ombak Bar serves fruit-infused daiquiris, rum-addled caipirinhas and an excellent mojito made with home-grown mint.
Open in the early evenings, the Boat House bar is an upmarket surfer’s hangout, complete with a bonfire on some nights; both offer fresh-off-the-boat sashimi to nibble on with a sundowner.
Ombak serves breakfast 7am–11am and dinner 7pm–10.30pm. Lunch at Nio Beach Club is 12 noon–3pm, after which light snacks can be ordered at the Boat House until 6pm.
Order in-villa meals from 6 am to 10pm from a tempting menu of Indonesian classics (nasi goreng, fried noodles and grilled fish with a fiery chilli sambal) and international favourites such as burgers, grilled tuna salad and comforting chicken soup.
More Guest Comments
Exclusive and Private, Nihiwatu Resort in Sumba is definitely a small piece of heaven in the heart of Indonesia. 21 ecological villas built out of local and natural materials offer you comfort and relaxation. Even food is absolutely natural, products being taken from local gardens with tropical fruits and vegetables. Guests can sleep at the famous Boathouse,dance at the Nio Beach Club, dine in private dining pavilions or relax at the Beach Spa on a 2,5 kilometres of white sand beach.
If I were going to book a holiday at Nihiwatu
What is there to do at Nihiwatu
1. Kick off your shoes and spend carefree days exploring Nihiwatu’s winding paths, tropical greenery and organic gardens.
2. With its games, pool tables and beach cinema, Menara is a laid-back hangout for idle afternoons.
3. Stretching over 2.5km, the resort’s private beach is a rugged but pristine crescent of white sands. In summer, its wild, crashing waves have earned it cult status among surfers: only 10 surfers are allowed on its world-famous break at any one time.
4. A serene hilltop pavilion offers yoga and Pilates classes with breathtaking ocean views.
5. The resort runs daily excursions to explore local villages and spectacular landscapes on foot, mountain bike or horseback – the sort of exertion best rewarded with a lengthy visit to the open-air spa.
6. With its dramatic waterfalls, tranquil valleys and golden coastlines, Sumba has bags of lost-world appeal. Rooted in tradition and ancient animist practices, local life is colourful and vibrant: visit off-the-beaten-path villages to discover festival rituals, exquisite Ikat weaves and monumental megalithic burial sites.
7. Guided hikes through the valleys take in the national park, sheer cliffs and a miraculously blue lagoon – the perfect spot for jumping off the rocks and devouring a well-deserved picnic.
8. A tour of the Sumba Foundation makes an enlightening day trip: working hand in hand with the local communities, this unique philanthropic setup is responsible for much of the island’s preservation successes.
How to get to Nihiwatu
An hour’s flight east of Bali, Sumba has two airports, served by domestic flights from Denpasar, Jakarta and other Indonesian islands.
The closest is Tambolaka airport in West Sumba, a 90-minute drive from Nihiwatu.
The resort can arrange return travel from Bali, which includes flights, taxes and service, use of VIP lounges in Bali and Tambolaka, and airport transfers to Nihiwatu>
Your other option is Waingapu’s Mau Hau airport in East Sumba, a journey of three hours.
More Guest comments
To compare Nihiwatu to any other resort in the world does not do it justice. It is absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever visited, and the experience goes far beyond the scope of imagination. It is a luxury resort in which every one of your desires is fulfilled without hesitation, combined with the unique cultural experience of Sumba, located on a plot of land fit for a king. The day is yours to seize, with many different adventures available from surfing, spearfishing, hiking to a waterfall, visiting local villages, and even a massage overlooking the vast ocean. There is something for everybody at Nihiwatu. My favorite part was the culinary experience. The food was delicious, the menu was masterfully created with inspirations from around the world. Every meal was beyond amazing. One afternoon we caught a fish out on the boat and a few hours later we were eating the same fish for dinner, skillfully prepared to perfection by the chef. The staff is exceptional, they cater to each and every one of your wildest desires. Nihiwatu is truly paradise, and I cannot wait to go back.
I think that about covers all the bases. Nihiwatu would make the perfect honeymoon destination as well as a great choice for a reward holiday.