Hotel Review: Nihi Sumba
A Luxury Indonesian Retreat at The Edge of Wildness
Nihi Sumba was the highlight of our 3-week trip to Indonesia. After almost two weeks in Bali, we spent 7 nights in Nihi, a perfect way to end any vacation in Indonesia, and definitely the grand finale, so save it for last. Nihi Sumba is an off-the-beaten-path remote resort that provides unique experiences that you cannot find anywhere else. The breathtaking landscape at this resort is indescribable, with a sign that greets you as you enter the property that reads “Nihi Sumba: At the Edge of Wildness.”
Perfect For: Families | Honeymooners | Romantic Getaways | Surfers and Adventure Seekers | A Quiet Escape | Those Who Want to Give Back to Communities
Nihi Sumba Location
Getting There: A 1.5 hour flight from Denpasar (Bali) to Tambolaka, the main airport on Sumba, and then a 1.5 hour drive to the resort. We booked our flights directly with Nihi, which I highly recommend as these are small Indonesian airlines that we can’t book in the GDS, so they handle all the logistics. They provide VIP arrival service upon landing in Denpasar and even though we arrived to Bali long before our trip to Nihi, they still provided the VIP arrival service, which was amazing. After the 1.5 hour drive through the villages of Sumba, arriving here will feel like you’ve arrived to a slice of heaven on earth, making the trek to get here well worth it.
Vibe: Nihi is all about the experiences they provide, from picking you up in an open air jeep with coconuts as your welcome drinks (and coconut holders in the jeep to boot) + handmade granola bar snacks wrapped in banana leaf pouches. They have a nightly themed dinner from the the white party to the Sumba Foundation dinner. Nihi is the ultimate in barefoot luxury. It’s not fancy, but service is another level. Each villa has a private butler or “captain” that tends to your every need. Our kids roamed free while we were there. It’s that kind of place. Our captain would magically appear when needed or follow the kids from behind when they wandered on their own, but never felt imposing.
Accomodations: 23 villas make up the property and they’re all unique. The nicest entry level villas are Kanatar 1, perfect for honeymooners, and Lumba. Many of their villas can be 2, 3 or 4 BR villas as they’ll close off rooms. As each villa is privately owned, it’s best to consult with me in order to hand-select the right option for you. Mandaka is the owner’s 4 BR and is the nicest, and can also be made into a 2 BR.
We stayed in Raja Kanatar 2, and it was perfect for us as we had all 3 kids in the downstairs bedroom and had privacy with the upstairs bedroom. Bathrooms are outdoors but completely private, though some villas have indoor bathrooms, so if you prefer that, just let me know and I can match you to the proper villa.
Food & Beverage:
There is a wide variety of food and beverage and they are very accommodating for every type of diet. I was shocked to have so many choices on a remote island, but after a week stay, I didn’t begin to feel bored by the menus. My favorite was the poke bowl for lunch each day, which was served with fresh-caught tuna and the most delicious ingredients – with the perfect amount of spice! Dinners each night changed, and if you ever have any request, they are sure to prepare it for you.
Wellness: Don’t miss the spa safari – best spa experience I’ve ever had. They take you to a separate location 10-15 minutes drive away, or you can hike in which takes about an hour (they charge $75 to hike in because you have to go with a guide). They have oceanfront villas set up and they serve breakfast or lunch, depending at what time your service is, and you can do either half or full day. The spa menu is on a chalkboard, which you select 4 services and then you’re literally transported to heaven.
The experience is indescribable and other-worldly. As a fellow traveler told me, “It felt like I floated out of my body…” For days that you don’t want to take a full day to treat yourself to magic, you can also opt for a massage in a smaller spa area next to the main pool, or in your cabin. We did both! And in fact, pricing on massages was so fair that I treated myself to a daily massage while we were there. They were the best I have ever had in my life.
Things to Do in Nihi Sumba: Nihi Sumba is an iconic surfing destination. Directly in front of the resort sits a perfect reef break known as “God’s Left” offering up to 300 meter exhilirating rides through hollow sections and rippable walls. Beginers can take surfing lessons directly infront of Nihi Sumba when the swell is small or take a short drive to Nihi’s Coconut Cove, where guests can spend half a day with breakfast or lunch tended by Nihi’s staff. There are not many places where a empty world class surf spot sits infront of a luxury resort.
Sumba Foundation One of the highlights for me was the way Nihi resort supports the community and the owner, Christopher Burch, founded the Sumba Foundation which provides resources that go directly back to the community. They aren’t pushy about it and request your participation in a very tasteful way. They provide a twice weekly visit to the Sumba Foundation school and medical clinic where you participate with about 100-200 kids. For us, it was a life-changing experience and so well done, not just for us but for our kids as well. They also have the weekly Sumba Foundation dinner that shows a short video on where the Sumbanese were 20 years ago to how far they have come. In large part to the Sumba Foundation, the island is thriving and the community’s happiness is contagious.
What Sets It Apart: We never go back to the same place twice, but before we checked out, I was already working to book our return visit. The majority of people who go to Nihi Sumba become annual visitors. It’s hard not to want to return, the place is truly that special. I don’t get emotional about leaving many places, but Nihi was one place where I teared up when we had to leave.
I would say the people are what truly distinguishes Nihi Sumba into its own category. Our captain, Sarney, felt like family by the end of our stay, and we connected through social media and still keep in touch. We have already requested her for our next visit, and our kids are safe wandering under her watchful eye. Everyone from the manager, to the bartender, and the guests who visit, had a similar energy of peace and gratitude for the slower pace and the majestic beauty of the island. It felt like being on sacred ground, and the commonality of sharing that experience with strangers creates a bond that is indescribable.
How Much Does Nihi Sumba Cost? Rates vary greatly depending on the room category and whether you are visiting in dry or wet season, or during wave season. Entry level villas, which are still incredibly spacious, start at about $1,083 per couple per day, with full board – meaning meals are already included!
Diego Travel Loves: When it comes to sustainability, which seems to be a big buzz word in travel now, many properties talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.. At Nihi Sumba, they truly deliver on the goal of practiced sustainability without sacrificing the luxury comforts you might be used to while traveling.
I also love that each day included two organized activities for our kids that were included with the rates. Every day at around 10 AM and 3 PM, the kids had the chance to go for about 2 hours to paint, hike, make chocolate at the on-property chocolate factory, or do something with the horses. While they don’t typically love kids clubs, this felt different and was immersive in island culture and also allowed them to interact with other kids from around the world.
Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:
- Priority upgrade at time of arrival
- Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom
- $100 USD resort credit
- One 60-minute massage for 1 person
- Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Nihi Sumba Insider Tips:
Nihi Sumba Insider Tips: The most important thing to know about Nihi is that each villa is unique and varies on location, view, proximity to the main pool/restaurants, number of stairs required to reach it, etc. Please reach out to us at Diego Travel to guide you to make the right choice on the villa that will be right for you and your party. We can also assist with combining Nihi with the rest of your Asian vacation, no matter where you plan on traveling to beforehand.
If you have any questions about visiting Nihi Sumba or Indonesia in general, I’d be happy to answer any questions or help book your stay so that you get all the added value mentioned above. Plus, we make an intimidating trip to Indonesia worry-free and take all the stress out of your planning by including assistance with international and domestic flights, pre- or post-travel, and answering any questions you might have about entry requirements or in-the-know details. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our Trip Design form in order to get started planning.