Travel: Nihiwatu Beach – Sumba Island, Indonesia

In 1988 when Claude and Petra Graves arrived at Nihiwatu beach on Sumba island, Indonesia, in search of a perfect wave they hit upon an idea. Their vision was to create an eponymous resort that would not only provide a unrivalled experience of freedom, luxury and culture for visitors but also preserve the breathtaking beauty of the area.

The unspoilt magnificence of the location and resort itself is undeniable. It counts surfing one of the world’s best left-hand break waves, world-class sport fishing and diving amongst its list of offerings. Whilst for those in search of a more relaxing break, a private 2.5 kilometre beach, star-lit dining, time spent in the Jungle Spa or with a life-changing guru might be more to your liking.

In 2013, the story of Nihiwatu and its burgeoning retreat reached US retail entrepreneur (and co-founder of Tory Burch) Chris Burch, who, along with James McBride (former manager of The Carlyle in New York) came on board with a passion to make this unique concept work.

The new team enabled significant investment, with the single-minded goal to evolve the resort into one of the best in the world that demonstrates a sustainable operation, both environmentally and for the local Sumbanese people.

To date, the resort’s  foundation has reduced malaria by 86 per cent within a 20km radius of Nihiwatu – in five to eight years and with a further £5 million, says health director Claus Bogh, there’s a chance malaria can be eradicated island-wide. It has also provided 172 nearby villages with clean water, built 48 wells, 5 health clinics and set up 15 primary schools, not to mention is the biggest employer on the island.

Today Nihiwatu is held in cult status – something they’re extremely proud of. Surfing remains at the heart of the resort but only ten are permitted to ride that famous left-hand break per day. Professional waterman Mark Healy heads up their ocean activates and is a dedicated conservationist, providing expert advice and excursions in and around the 560 acres of unspoiled natural landscape.

The resort continues to develop, the plan is to grow the 21 spacious villas to 32 and develop the tree-house Jungle Spa by Spring 2015, adding to the existing iconic boathouse, restaurant, private dining pavilions and beach club.

About the Author

Based just outside London, Sarah-Leigh Bunting is a seasoned editor and marketer, having worked with some of the world's biggest fashion and interior brands and retailers. In 2012 Sarah-Leigh co-founded What Peggy Did Next (, an event and communications agency based in the UK. You can follow Sarah on... Instagram - @sarah_leigh_b Twitter - sarah_leigh_b Facebook -