Sophie Digby checks in to a spectacularly remote surf camp – and prays for flat water. Images by Ian and Erick Regnard.
Shock horror, I think I am suddenly interested in surfing! No, not the actual sport, I am a little too past the up-to-vertical in one swift, fluid movement of arms, hips and feet. Nor is it because one can view sun-bleached hair, wide, tanned backs, slim hips in low-riding board shorts. No, none of the aforementioned. I am interested in the world of surfing. Great surf breaks attract great surfers; great surfers find great lost-to-the-world beaches and luckily some of those surfers decide to set up shop with some of those great breaks in plain sight of the breakfast room. Some such persons are François and Natalie, and some such lost-in-paradise lodge is Scar Reef Resort, happily planted on the west coast of Sumbawa, already very well known to those that paddle out looking for impressive right or left handers.
Scar Reef Resort is located on a fabulous white sand crescent shaped bay and looks out over a reef, which is the raison d’etre for the famous Scar Reef wave that at times hosts seriously high barrels and extremely impressive sunsets daily.
Having recently undergone a major ‘upfurb’, the resort now consists of one large (just gorgeous) and for want of a description “honeymoon suite” aka The Beach House – this is my auberge for the three nights I am staying here, and no I am not on any honeymoon … however the label is not lost on me.
It is all wood. A very spacious, open-plan, white-washed bedroom-cum-sitting room opens onto the terrace and annexed is a fully equipped kitchen, which comes with bar counter, barstools with surround sound waves gently ‘swashing’ the shore. The view is of Scar Reef – The Wave – so the tales around the proverbial campfire are possibly of brutal, board-breaking bravery … and Betadine.
The Family House stands two stories high and stands back a bit from The Beach House, also all wood, mostly white washed with one main bedroom-cum-sitting room and an additional half attic room up a laddered staircase – perfect for the kids to dream of pirates and ships lost at sea. The spacious right and left shower-rooms are below the ample balcony on the ground floor.
The other five individual rooms continue with the ever-elegant, white washed wood interiors yet differentiate with terrazo floors instead of wood, and boast cleverly molded pavilion seating. Eye to detail is impressive. Natalie’s taste is exceptional.
What is left to ‘upfurb’ is the breezy restaurant, which in its own right is still cute and perfectly functional. Surrounded by immaculately brushed sand, palm trees and bougainvillea, the Scar Reef eatery is manned by head of ops Jon and his trusty crew of Uka, Maliki and Erol, amongst others. Of note is that everything is prepared fresh in the kitchen – the muesli is home-blended, the tomato curry sauces for fish or chicken are lovingly blended by hand – not easy when quality provisions are hard to come by, and the wholesale and retail comestible world is two islands west away. But, by George, Jon manages to step up to the plate and deliver!
But back to why I would I be interested in surfing? Did I mislead you, I wonder? I am actually interested in great surf resorts when the incoming swell is zero. The surfers are absent and the occupation is low, the beaches are deserted (which they are anyway here in Sumbawa) and the tide is in. I now find myself checking swell charts and trade wind forecasts, looking for the niche in between the king tides and the 9ft and singles.
So just to tally up, when the ‘surf’s down’, I’ll be catching me a plane and a boat and booking into Scar Reef Resort!
Photography: Insta – @iananderick
• Fly to Lombok (Praya Airport), hire a driver to take you to the northeast sea-port and get on the fast boat to Sumbawa – the 16.30 is the easiest one to catch if coming in from Bali.
• Boat trips out to the reef – or a free trip around the bay even if non-surfers – is included in the room-rate. NB. If the surf is ‘up’ the boat is busy and would not be available for landlubbers – understandably so!
• Yoga – beautiful wooden Yoga off-ground pavilion, located in the centre of the property, is ideal if looking to do a yoga or breath work retreat or just daily morning practice.
• Snorkeling is an option if the lagoon is calm, and if you bring children we definitely recommend buckets and spades too.
• Horse riding is also an option if you are experienced – please advise before booking.
• Waterfall – half an hour away is swimmable (not in the dry season of course),
• Scar Reef’s 4×4 car trip to Gunung Kertasari for sunrise and cloud viewing.
• Two motorbikes are for rent.