Stay in a Two-Story Tree House at This Incredible Surfer’s Paradise in Indonesia

The Nihiwatu resort’s new villas range from a whimsical tree house to traditional Sumbanese homes…

In 1988, Petra and Claude Graves’s quest for the perfect wave led them to Sumba, an Indonesian island with one of Asia’s most consistent surf breaks. In 1998 they opened Nihiwatu, a surf resort tucked away among rice paddies, tropical flora, and a 1.5-mile beach ensconced by craggy headlands. Two years ago, the entrepreneurs Christopher Burch and James McBride acquired the resort, determined to develop the property into much more than a surf resort while preserving the area’s heritage and current culture. True to that resolution, the resort recently unveiled three new sets of Nihiwatu villa residences sure to immerse guests in the island spirit.

For a whimsical stay, guests can indulge at the Mamole Tree House, a three-bedroom complex positioned amid wispy trees and jungle vegetation. The two-story, circular tree houses—perched on wooden stilts—look out over an elevated infinity pool and pavilion to the pristine beaches beyond. The main tree house has its own private infinity pool, a living area, and a bathroom on the first floor, as well as a bedroom, a bathroom, and a balcony on the upper level. The remaining tree houses, connected by a bamboo bridge so guests can easily slip from one to the next, each feature a bedroom, a bathroom, and a balcony. The secluded residences are decorated with traditional Sumbanese carvings and ikat tapestries (made using an Indonesian technique of weaving resist-dyed yarns).

The one- and two-bedroom Puncak villas were designed to look like traditional Sumbanese houses, with thatched, peaked roofs. Highlights of the villas include an outdoor jungle shower, a spacious balcony with a bathtub, a study, and bedrooms outfitted with locally inspired decor. Outside, a sunken dining area flanked by stone-tiled pools, a thatch-roofed pavilion lined with sofas and chairs, and a deck overlooking the ocean provide ample opportunities to appreciate the picturesque scenery.


Raja Mendaka, a collection of five separate one-bedroom villas grouped together within one compound, is well suited for large groups. The master villa features Sulawesi marble inlaid with tropical hardwood, a waterfall that cascades into a private infinity pool, a massive cave, a bedroom furnished with Sumbanese decorations, and a platform with an outdoor jungle shower and bathtub. The remaining two-story villas are fashioned after traditional Sumbanese homes.

Nightly rates at the new Nihiwatu villa residences start from $850. (nihwatu.com)

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