It is no exaggeration to say that there is a sort of magic within the bright green canopies of jungle that surround Nihiwatu. The Yoga and Activities Director, Mary Tilson will be the first to tell you that the Nihi resort experience is a one of a kind. “I joke about how often I get the goosebumps here, but it really is true, every time I step outside I’m in awe of something new”; she shares with a contagious smile. It seems that is a feeling shared by guests as well as those who work at Nihi, just named ‘World’s Best Hotel’ for the second year in a row.
Jane Tilson | Updated July 2017
Mary’s love for Nihi and this island shines through in each unique practice. Her passion for sharing her knowledge of yoga and meditation attracts guests at all levels of experience, and allows her to customise each sequence to the individual.
As her younger sister, I couldn’t help but giggle during sun salutations, as she had somehow managed to pull Australian surfers away from the world’s best wave and into Warrior Two. If Mary’s bubbly personality isn’t enough to bring you to your mat in the morning, the yoga pavilion certainly will be. The view from the pavilion will have even the last person at Ombak Restaurant up in time for sunrise; and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a rainbow or two as you rise into Upward Dog.
From there, you can close your practice with a bow and begin that day’s island inspired adventure. If you’re feeling ambitious, head down to the beach for a surf lesson with Nihi’s Boat House crew, Jake, Marshall, Shawn and Kyle. There is no better place to give it a try than a resort built around a wave that has the best surfers in the world coming back year after year. Or, if you’re just looking to catch some rays, there’s always an open spot in the ocean for you to put your feet up on a paddle board; bring a pair of goggles and you may even catch sight of a sea turtle too.
Whatever you do, don’t get too busy to stop by Nio Beach club for a lunch break. But, who am I kidding, with the delightful dishes and an even more delightful Sumbanese staff serving them, you will never miss a meal at Nihiwatu. Rony, an unforgettable face at Nio that is native to Sumba, says smiling, “I love my job. I get to talk and joke around with people from all over the world. And, even if someone doesn’t walk in as happy at first, I get them smiling and laughing with me eventually.” Although, he will be the first to admit, it is not too often that a guest at Nihi is hiding their smile.
One of the resort’s most unique features is the astonishing beach-side stable. Whether you have been riding for years, or have never gone near a horse, this is certainly a must-stop spot. The Stables Manager, Carol, offers everything from an empowering horse meditation to a game of polo by the ocean. After experiencing those things and more, it is no surprise to me that she has guests coming back day after day.
Of course, you can’t talk Nihi, without mentioning the Nihi Oka Spa Safari. Start the day with a trek through the hills and villages of Sumba Island. Then, prepare to be greeted with fresh coconuts and a five-star breakfast upon arrival. As the day continues, enjoy this incredible opportunity to relax among the rice paddies, and drift to sleep to the sound of the shifting waves. The Nihi Oka Spa staff will be there to grant your every last wish.
During your trip to paradise, enjoy all that the Island has to offer you, but don’t forget to consider what you can do for the island. A large percentage of the resort’s profits are given to the Sumba Foundation. This organisation is dedicated to fighting poverty and improving the quality of life in Sumba. Their aim is to “provide humanitarian aid by fostering village-based projects that impact health (including access and malaria control), education, water and income-generation, while preserving and respecting the fragile culture and traditions of the Sumbanese people.” Nihiwatu provides guests with the opportunity to take part in the School Lunch Program and visit the clinics being funded by the Sumba Foundation. During my trip to the Sumba Foundation clinic, I was fortunate enough to witness a village women see her unborn baby for the first time on one of the very limited ultrasound machines available on the island. As well as, seeing the malaria testing process first hand. The Sumba Foundation will help you see the world in a new light, and inspire you to consider what you can do to give back in your own community.
Nihi makes for the perfect fairytale escape; natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation at one of the world’s most luxurious resorts.
Sumba Island, Indonesia
Jane Tilson is an adventure obsessed blogger, hiker, snowboarder, travel journalism major. Jane fell in love with seeing the world during a service trip to India in 2012. Since, her passion for travel and adventure has inspired her move to the mountains, and continued to carry her around the world.