Ask an Expert: Bali vs. Sumba?

James McBride, former president of YTL Hotels group and co-owner of Nihiwatu resort in Indonesia, makes the case for visiting the oft-overlooked isle of Sumba in lieu of nearby Bali.

James McBrideSo, Sumba vs. Bali. What’s your take?
James McBride: The choice is easy. I hate to say, but more and more people are coming to Sumba because Bali, quite frankly, is tacky. Of course, there are still extraordinary things in Bali—Ubud and the northern beaches are incredible. But Sumba is life-changing. Sumba is like Bali 50 years ago, where there’s just one resort and you’re sharing the place with buffalo and the Sumbanese. Yes, they wear swords and its tribal, but they are so friendly—it’s a key cultural experience. We have deep-sea fishing, yoga, free-diving, and extraordinary hiking. You’ll see bikes, horses and the odd car, but you’ll never see an airplane in the sky.

By the way: Sumba is about an hour-long flight southeast of Bali. Don’t worry, I had to look it up too! Thinking about going? Check out pristine, beach-lux Nihiwatu resort.
Rooms from US$450 ($3,836) per night, all-inclusive.

The view at Nihiwatu resort
The view at Nihiwatu resort



Published by

Kate Springer

Freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong. Contributor at CNN, Forbes Travel Guide, BBC Travel, Fodor's Travel Guide, superfuture, Tatler, and more.

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