In 2012, stories of the unregulated freedom and natural beauty of the relatively unknown Sumba Island in Indonesia reached Christopher Burch, who was told that the founder of a small surf camp there was looking for help to expand. Four years, 33 villas, and thousands of coconuts later, the Nihiwatu resort has become an award-winning travel destination of global attention.
Maintaining its deep-rooted philosophy, and through the generosity of Burch, a portion of Nihiwatu’s profits are now repatriated into the Sumba Foundation that was established by the resort’s original owner in 2001. The Foundation’s aim is to provide humanitarian aid by fostering community-based projects that impact health (including medical access and malaria control), nutrition, education, water and income-generation, while preserving and respecting the culture and traditions of the Sumbanese people.
With the enthusiastic support of hotel guests, Nihiwatu has become a philanthropic vehicle dedicated to supporting the Sumba Foundation’s projects. During their stay, guests are introduced to the Foundation’s efforts through an impactful presentation and short film, and during cultural immersion experiences on the island. Guests are also welcome to join the Sumba Foundation team for volunteer projects. Imagine being greeted by hundreds of smiling schoolchildren as they sing “Da!”, their native hello, as you arrive at school to serve a hearty lunch of rice and vegetables, or hand out books and crayons, or pass them during a hike on their way home from school.
Many guests subsequently become benefactors to the Foundation. The result is a rare collaboration between a resort and its local community that today co-exist with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island and the Sumba Foundation gives back to the local communities.
Over the last fourteen years, the Foundation has set up over 15 primary schools, built 48 water wells and 5 medical clinics, supplied 172 villages with clean water and reduced Malaria by 85% in affected villages.
Since pictures say one thousand words, we continue to update this page with images of the extraordinary progress of Sumba Island led by the Foundation, and the magic of Nihiwatu.
For more information about the Sumba Foundation please visit