Catch an "Indo Tube"
BASE CAMP: Nihiwatu Resort
ACTIVITY: Ride the perfect wave in a tribal outpost
Imagine catching wave after wave on an island peopled by former headhunters. That's what drew American Claude Graves and his wife to Sumba Island, Indonesia, in 1988. The pair was seeking the ideal location to build a low-impact resort, and after years spent gaining the confidence of local tribes, they got their wish. The surprisingly chic Nihiwatu Resort, some 250 miles (402 kilometers) east of Bali, sits on a headlands-capped beach surrounded by rice terraces and grasslands. Seven handcrafted thatch-roof bungalows and three two-bedroom villas look out at a fat left-hand break that crests just 80 yards offshore. "It's a beautiful wave," says Graves. "Dark blue water, smooth and crisp ... with a perfect tube from the start to the end."
GAME PLAN: Surf, surf, and more surf. The resort offers boards and lessons. Beginners go out at high tide, when the waves are the mellowest, while serious surfers set their watches for mid-tide, when the swell gets big. Beyond the break, the indigo sea holds allure for divers as well, especially a mile out at Magic Mountain, an open-ocean pinnacle where masses of large pelagics—marlins, sailfish, even blue whales—congregate. If you'd rather stick to land for a day, guides are available for visits to tribal villages, where Sumbanese weavers create wildly patterned ikat blankets, sashes, and sarongs. Time your visit right in February and you may catch the animist celebration of Pasola, in which local clans perform ritual warfare. Participants ride on horseback while hurling wooden spears at one another (the metal tips have been removed). Though it's a
contest and the violence is supposedly monitored, be aware that things can get bloody: The event is not for the faint of heart.
THE VITALS: Nihiwatu Resort ($390, including meals; $50 a day for board rentals; www.nihiwatu.com).
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