An hour’s flight east of Bali is Sumba: an island of ancestral villages, tribal traditions and, on a forested fringe of long golden beach, Nihiwatu. Originally a surf resort, it reopened in 2014 under James McBride, formerly of The Carlyle in New York, and soon became known for its simple luxuries and eco approach. Its villas – the largest of which has its own pavilions, kitchen and library – have pointed thatched roofs that are typically Sumbanese, private infinity pools and bales set in gardens of banana and frangipani trees. Butlers who attend to the villas are happy to reveal their animist culture to guests, whether that’s the symbols woven into local ikat cloth or the importance of the island’s spear-throwing festival. Experiences include riding ponies into the surf, nudging a paddleboard down-river, diving, and surfing one of the world’s most famous left-hand breaks. It’s a place in which, somewhere between the sea spray and lost-world traditions, it’s possible to lose yourself completely.
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