Surrounded by acres of untouched forest and pristine coastline, Nihiwatu resort is a far-from-it-all family-friendly hideaway with a conscience.

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At a glance

  • You'll love

    Starlit restaurants

    Peaceful wilderness

    Open-air spa

  • Kids will love

    Riding on the beach

    Private pools

    Turtle hatchery

  • Don’t expect

    A calm swimming beach

    A communal pool

    TVs and DVD players


Hidden away on one of Indonesia’s most unexplored islands, Nihiwatu hotel is a luxury resort with a conscience. Almost entirely free of urban development, Sumba’s spectacular landscape makes for surprisingly family-friendly getaways: surf the world-famous breaks, explore the bush on horseback, work on community projects or simply while the days away by your dreamy private pool.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Nihiwatu with us:

A family outing by open-top jeep to swim at Lapopu waterfall


‘A Nihiwatu experience is all about the outdoors: let the children run free around the estate’s winding paths, lush gardens and rugged beach. Strong swimmers and rock-pool explorers will do best here, as the sea can often be too rough for a leisurely swim.’

Smith & Family


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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia

Need To Know


32 villas, including five two-bedroom villas suitable for families.


11am. Earliest check-in, 1pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.


Double rooms from £1025.31 ($1,331), including tax at 21 per cent.

More details

Rates include all meals (American breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon teas and coffees, soft drinks and bottled water from the minibar). Children Up to two under-5s stay free in parents’ accommodation. Extra beds for kids aged 6–11 cost US$90 a person, each night; 12–16s are charged US$195 a night.

At the hotel

Private beach with watersports facilities, spa, in-room massages, 567 acres of land, equestrian centre, restaurants, bar, family club, beach cinema, ping-pong table, pool tables, free WiFi throughout.

In your room

Minibar, free bottled water and soft drinks, tea and coffee-making facilities, Nihiwatu natural toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Close to Menara and with easy access to the beach, the two-bedroom Pantai Villas are ideal for family groups, especially with energetic older kids. The living room in Lulu Amahu villas can be turned into a second bedroom and has its own bathroom. Ratu villas have lush tropical gardens to run around in; the one in the Wamoro Estate has a second floor that makes a great hideaway for children.


There is no communal pool at the resort, but each villa has its own unsupervised pool, which can be fenced off if you’re travelling with little ones.


Open from 9am to 5pm in a sheltered creek framed by pandanus trees, Nihiwatu’s open-air spa pavilions look out over the beach and crashing waves. Worthy of its name, the Sumbanese Dream treatment combines a mineral-rich foot bath, relaxing massage, lavender-scented scrub and aloe-infused body mask. For an out-of-this-world experience, book a babysitter and embark on the Nihioka Spa Safari, a journey to a secluded valley where four bamboo-clad couples’ treatment rooms await. Pick one of the home-made aromatic oils and indulge in a stress-busting massage with views of peaceful paddy fields. If a visit to the beach spa doesn’t float your boat, in-room massages are available from 9am to 8pm.


If you’re travelling with curious toddlers, ask for socket covers in your rooms. Private pools aren’t supervised and some villas have unrestricted access to the beach, so keep a watchful eye on wandering tots.


Responsible luxury is the guiding principle of Nihiwatu’s eco-friendly approach. Much of the restaurants’ produce is grown in the resort’s organic garden, fed by a clever composting and water-recycling system. The hotel’s green ethos extends beyond its walls, too, with community outreach programmes in local villages, a turtle hatchery and a foundation working to clean water and reduce malaria on the island.

Food and drink

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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia


Sheltered beneath a spectacular thatched roof, laid-back Ombak is the resort’s gastronomic hub, blessed with sweeping ocean views. Set right on the sand, long wooden tables welcome families, but there are plenty of romantically lit nooks for couples, too. Chef Bernard Prim makes the most of the garden’s organic produce and the island’s line-caught fish: don’t miss his Archipelago menu of Indonesian fare flavoured with lemongrass, sambals and palm sugar. Just steps from the sea, Nio Beach Club serves simply grilled fish, sizzling satay dishes and pizzas fresh from its large clay oven.

Family fare

Children are welcome at all the restaurants. Picky eaters will love the kids’ menu with its crowd-pleasing burgers, fajitas, toasted sandwiches and banana splits. For more authentic fare, book a rijstaffel (rice table), a family-style Indonesian feast. The kitchen can whip up home-made purées for tots, too, some of which have an exotic twist: pick from papaya, pumpkin and avocado, or plainer peas, carrots or potatoes. High chairs are on offer, though little ones may prefer playing on the sandy floors; if they get too fidgety, colouring books and games can always be brought over from Menara.

Hotel Bar

Open-air Ombak Bar serves fruit-infused daiquiris, rum-addled caipirinhas and an excellent mojito made with home-grown mint. Little Smiths can order mango milkshakes, virgin piña coladas and seasonal smoothies. Open in the early evenings, the Boat House bar is an upmarket surfer hangout, complete with a bonfire on some nights; both offer fresh sashimi to go with your sundowners.

Last orders

Ombak serves breakfast 7am–11am and dinner 7pm–10.30pm. Lunch at Nio Beach Club is 12 noon–3pm, after which light snacks can be ordered at the Boat House until 6pm.

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    Perched in a treehouse platform over the rugged coast, the Nest is a one-of-a-kind spot for long family lunches. Ask to have dinner at Nio Beach Club – dressed with flower garlands and pretty hanging lanterns, tables there are impossibly romantic.

  • Room service

    Order meals from 6 am to 10pm from a tempting menu of Indonesian classics (nasi goreng, fried noodles and grilled fish with a fiery chilli sambal) and family favourites (burgers, grilled tuna salad, comforting chicken soup). There are kettles in rooms, but if you need to heat milk, just ask a butler.


    Staff can also organise torch-lit dinners on the beach, treehouse barbecues and in-villa lobster feasts; just give them a day’s notice.


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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia

Parent approved

‘A Nihiwatu experience is all about the outdoors: let the children run free around the estate’s winding paths, lush gardens and rugged beach. Strong swimmers and rock-pool explorers will do best here, as the sea can often be too rough for a leisurely swim.’

Smith & Family

Kids Club

There’s no kids club or crèche, but Nihiwatu’s staff can tailor activities to suit your little Smiths' whimsy. Thatch-roofed and sandy-floored, Menara is an open-air space for families, where children can enjoy books, games, crafts and a game of ping-pong or pool. Sandcastle-building competitions take place on the beach; cooking classes, beach games and turtle-release sessions can also be organised.


English-speaking babysitters can look after a brood of little Smiths for US$7 an hour; book a day ahead.


Call on Nihiwatu’s experienced team of English-speaking nannies if you’re keen to go on grown-up daytime excursions. Nannies cost US$7 an hour and require 24 hours' notice.


A baby monitor can be handy if you’re planning on spending a lot of time enjoying your villa’s luxuriant gardens and private pool, but you’ll need to bring your own.

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Baby bath • Infant car seat • Socket covers

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Cutlery • Swimming aids • Beach toys • Crayons/pens • Craft materials • Picture books • U-rated DVDs

For older children

• Car booster seats • DVD library • Board games • Craft materials • Ping-pong table • Pool table • Dart board • Surfboards • Wetsuits • Mountain bikes


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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia

Things to do

Kick off your shoes and spend carefree days exploring Nihiwatu’s winding paths, tropical greenery and organic gardens. With its games, pool tables and beach cinema, Menara makes a laid-back hangout for families. Stretching over 2.5km, the resort’s private beach is a rugged but pristine crescent of white sands; in summer, its wild, crashing waves have earned it cult status among surfers. A serene hilltop pavilion offers yoga and Pilates classes with breathtaking ocean views. The resort runs daily excursions to explore local villages and spectacular landscapes on foot, mountain bike or horseback – the sort of exertion best rewarded with a lengthy visit to the open-air spa.

Hotel activities

Borrow a board and embrace your inner surfer dude: confident swimmers over eight can take lessons at Nihiwatu. The resort’s legendary surf break is just off the coast (only 10 spots are available each day), and the beach is watched by lifeguards from 7am to 6pm; for a more family-friendly splash in the waves head to Tranquility Beach, a 15-minute drive away. In calmer weather, snorkel just off the beach or test your balance on a paddle board; spear-fishing, deep-sea fishing and scuba- and free-diving are also on offer. Families with over-5s can set out on horseback to explore the estate from bush to beach; serious riders should bring their own gear and book a private session with Carol, the resident riding instructor and horse-whispering mentor.

Local Guide

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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia
Don't miss…

The Pasola festival in February, a daring display of spear-fighting and horsemanship.

With its dramatic waterfalls, tranquil valleys and golden coastlines, Sumba has bags of lost-world appeal. Rooted in tradition and ancient animist practices, local life is colourful and vibrant: visit off-the-beaten-path villages to discover festival rituals, exquisite Ikat weaves and monumental megalithic burial sites. Guided hikes through the valleys take in the national park, sheer cliffs and a miraculously blue lagoon – the perfect spot for jumping off the rocks and devouring a well-deserved picnic. A tour of the Sumba Foundation makes an excellent family day trip: working hand in hand with the local communities, this unique philanthropic setup is responsible for much of the island’s preservation successes.

+ Enlarge
Desa Hobawawi, Wanukaka, West Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur, 87272
Hotel setting

Unspoilt surfer’s retreat

Getting There

Nihiwatu is a secluded private estate clinging to a hillside on Sumba’s south-west coast, surrounded by acres of lush tropical forest, unspoilt valleys and rugged coastline.


An hour’s flight east of Bali, Sumba has two airports, served by domestic flights from Denpasar, Jakarta and other Indonesian islands. The closest is Tambolaka airport in West Sumba, a 90-minute drive from Nihiwatu. The resort can arrange return travel from Bali, which includes flights, taxes and service, use of VIP lounges in Bali and Tambolaka, and airport transfers to Nihiwatu (US$375 each, $500 in business class). One-way airport transfers from Tambolaka cost US$125 (excluding tax and service) for up to four guests. Your other option is Waingapu’s Mau Hau airport in East Sumba, a journey of three hours; one-way transfers cost US$200 (excluding tax and service) for up to four guests.


The condition of the island’s roads can be unpredictable: leave driving to the professionals. Nihiwatu can organise a car with a driver and a has a fleet of open-top Land Rovers for off-the-beaten-path exploration.

Parent travel tip

A few nights in Bali can be a pleasant way to break up long flights. A pram is useful for navigating the airports, but quite impractical along Nihiwatu’s rocky paths. Bring a baby carrier to make the most of a stay with a babe-in-arms.


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Nihiwatu – Sumba – Indonesia

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Nihiwatu – has been selected and approved by parents.

A wild far-flung island may not be the obvious choice when it comes to child-friendly getaways, but Nihiwatu resort is nothing short of magical for families with an adventurous spirit. Clinging to the hillside above a golden coastline on off-the-grid Sumba island, its distinctive thatched villas and private pools offer luxurious respite from the stresses of modern life. A Nihiwatu experience is all about the outdoors: let the children run free to explore the estate’s winding paths, lush gardens and rugged beach. Strong swimmers and rock-pool explorers will do best here, as the sea can often be too rough for a leisurely splash. For older kids at heart, this laid-back surfer’s paradise calls for underwater adventures – snorkelling, diving and spear-fishing are all on offer here – but there’s plenty to do if you’ve yet to find your sea legs, too. Visit the stables for bush-to-beach excursions, follow trails through unspoilt valleys and discover the ancient culture and colourful traditions Nihiwatu is working so hard to preserve.

Smith & Family

The Guestbook  Smith member reviews

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith & Family hotel, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life family guests had to say about Nihiwatu in the Guestbook below.

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