If Steven Spielberg were to film The Lost World again, it would probably be at Nihiwatu. Less than an hour’s flight from Bali, and described as being “on the edge of wildness”, it is the ultimate abode for the millionaire castaway.
Hermès, Rockefeller and the Kardashians are reported to have been devotees of this pristine paradise. As you settle down for breakfast, you get the first taste of why they adored this untamed edge of the Indian Ocean.
Dancing turquoise waves to your left and a sweeping arc of white sandy beach to your right, provide the perfect backdrop for your Eggs Benedict. As you drink in the view along with an exotic blend of fresh fruit juices, you begin to see why your private villa has no TV. Why watch Discovery Channel when you can discover a new world yourself?
As my wife and I strolled along the cushion-soft sand, hermit crabs began a game of hide and seek with us. On our right, palm fronds merrily waved out.
Approaching the craggy end of the beach, we heard a rustle in the neighbouring green blanket of papaya trees. It was a wild horse. On our way back, a curious wild buffalo peered at us through the bushes before shyly retreating.
There are so many delightful ways to rest your feet after the 2.5 km walk. Hammocks, Beach Beds and Swing Beds are tucked away in nooks and corners amongst the foliage. The Swing Beds on the beach are my absolute favourites. The sound of the waves and the gentle swaying of the Swing Bed could just be the cure for insomnia. (It’s also the perfect setting to read Life of Pi.)
If toning your tanned body is more your thing, Nihiwatu has a wearying array of activities. Surfing, snorkelling, spearfishing and deep-sea fishing are all yours for the asking. If you aren’t a very strong swimmer, be careful. The undertow here is exceptionally strong. We found ourselves, and even the resident fishes, being constantly pulled in another direction. Not surprising when you consider that Nihiwatu is renowned in the surfing world for its legendary left-hand break. “During summer, the waves can be 3 times as high as me”, said Carla, the tall American Manager. “And I am 2 metres tall”. Horse riding on the foam-kissed sand, though, is extremely pleasant round the year and we enjoyed it a lot.
We were just as spoilt for choice when it came to cuisine. While the sandy floor and thatched roof at Ombak kept us anchored to the rustic environment, the changing daily menus took us on a continent-hopping gastronomic tour.
Ben McRae, the award-winning Executive Chef, has collected as many culinary influences as tattoos during a career that has taken him everywhere from The Whitsundays and Cook Islands to London and Thailand. He may have cooked for Prince Charles, Prime Ministers and Governors, but that didn’t stop him from accommodating our personal menu requests. (Thank you Ben.)
Amongst the countless delights savoured during our stay, Gado-Gado, a zesty Indonesian Beef Soup, Crab & Lobster Gnocchi, Tuna Sashimi, Fried Squid Salad and Persian Gulf Prawn Curry still get our reminiscing gastric juices flowing. The Mango ice cream was comparable to the finest on the French Riviera. While the Coconut ice cream and Passion Fruit sorbet are two of the most delectable desserts money can buy.
For indulgence of a different kind, it’s hard to top the Marangga Wave Front Villa. Inside, the bed adorned with a grand canopy made us feel like beachfront royalty. Outside, our plunge pool winked at us invitingly. Next to it was our private garden, with a path that led us to another outdoor bedroom with spectacular views.
While we were sprawled there in our sedentary splendour, my mind went walkabout. It saw clouds and rocks in shapes I’ve never seen before. I spotted a cloud that looked like a meerkat. Another cloud resembled a long-backed dragon. And 2 rocky boulders arcing towards each other, seemed like amorous sea lions.
As the tangerine sun slowly fell asleep, I couldn’t help but reflect on what made our Nihiwatu experience so memorable. Clearly, Nihiwatu isn’t for those who expect luxury to come with acres of marble and granite.
It is designed to give us all the creature comforts we love, without depriving monitor lizards, trees and fishes of their homes.
It is proof that you can have it all, without destroying the world that makes it possible.
It is hedonism with a heart.