While some islands in Indonesia have accelerated, Sumba hasn't. It's timeless, effortlessly slow, and certain to appeal to anyone looking to experience a little of what Bali was like 30 years ago. Visits to tribal villages are enlightening and always rewarding. Breaking the ice is easy, and paves the way to unscripted cultural exchange. Limestone cliffs let you observe the surfer-friendly swell from up above, although booking into a luxury beach retreat gives you access to those white sands and Indian Ocean sunsets from an even more exclusive angle.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Driving into the village, the unique elements of Kodi culture are immediately apparent. Locals wander by wearing traditional Ikat clothing, some complete with impressive ceremonial swords. Kids appear jumping, dancing and skipping alongside your vehicle. You smile, they smile; you wave, they wave. Then you catch sight of one of the unusually tall, thatched houses alongside the ancestral stone tombs that you've heard so much about. Your driver pulls to a halt and you get out; it's a bumpy, unpaved ride west to the villages of the Kodi region. Views over the Indian Ocean are stunning, but the opportunities to find out more about the traditions and rituals of Merapu culture are just as eagerly anticipated.
Life's a pristine, golden, sandy beach in Sumba, and watching surfers ride the wild waves is certain to encourage even the most reticent of land lubbers to dip their toes into the Indian Ocean. Southwest Sumba, especially, is a real hot spot for surfers, but there are plenty of calmer stretches of coast where beginners can try snorkelling, sea kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. One such location that will really appeal to lovers of laid back luxury is the Nihi Sumba, next to Nihiwatu Rua village. This simply stunning private beach retreat encapsulates its tropical surroundings and allows guests to make the most of Sumba's sumptuous west coast.
Sumba is one of those rare places that’s still well and truly off the mainstream travel trail. The pace of life is slow - really slow - and although it can be a slightly rough and ready road to the west coast, once you arrive you'll be treated to a timeless, sleepy, beachside ambience that's akin to Bali 'back in the day'. This is an island where you can trek through tropical forests and go horse riding over undulating limestone hills. Also, the birdwatching opportunities in Sumba are brilliant. Untouched areas of forest provide umpteen examples of endemic species, from flycatchers and hornbills to Apricot-breasted Sunbirds. If you've not brought your binoculars, borrow a pair as soon as you arrive.