Immersive experiences are what travel is all about.
Cultural travel is the respectful and responsible immersion into a foreign culture; a type of intelligent travel that places emphasis on experiencing life the way locals do, rather than superficially as an outsider.
Cultural travellers visit a specific destination for a purpose. They’re looking for a deeper understanding of – and connection with – a destination and the people who live there. They want to broaden their horizons by experiencing those of others.
Cultural travellers are informed – they research their destination in advance and are mindful of current political, economic and social factors. They’re respectful of cultural, religious and societal norms. They take the time to learn some basic language essentials and interact with locals to learn more about how they live.
If this type of travel resonates with you and you’re fascinated by other cultures, these are the four destinations to add to your list.
Located 400 kilometres east of Bali on Indonesia’s most unexplored island, Sumba, and set on 467 acres of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands that wrap around Nihiwatu Beach, Nihi Sumba is a luxury resort with a conscience.
The resort has evolved from its humble beginnings as a surf retreat into an example of a sustainable operation in harmony with the environment and the Sumbanese people. It was founded on the trust and cooperation of the local community and today these values remain the heart and soul of the Nihi experience.
Ninety per cent of the staff (including those in senior positions) are from the local area and the resort supports local initiatives and enterprises through their continued partnership and collaboration with the Sumba Foundation.
Guests are encouraged to partake in cultural experiences sustainably, ethically and healthily. A stay at Nihi Sumba allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s magnificently preserved ancient culture, to imbibe the local tradition and flavour, and enjoy the rich symphony of daily life in Sumba.
You can witness Sumba’s vibrant culture through a visit to the local villages and markets to see local arts and crafts, monumental megalithic burial sites, and exquisite Ikat weavings that are famous around the world.
SINALEI REEF RESORT & SPA
Samoan heritage extends back over 3,000 years and is renowned as one of the oldest and best kept cultures in the Pacific. A stay at Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa, one of the country’s most respected resorts, allows you to experience Samoa’s abundance of tradition and customs.
Every Wednesday guests are invited to a “Fia-Fia” show, a night dedicated to the celebration of the Samoan people and way of life. Treat your taste buds to a journey around the Pacific with the age-old recipes of Palusami, Oka and Fai’ai I’a as features of the feast, and enjoy the accompanying customary song and dance by the men, women and children of the surrounding villages.
Delve a little deeper into Samoan history with a storytelling session, mat weaving and underground cooking demonstration, topped off with a visit to a nearby village accompanied by a local host.
Further immerse yourself with a Signature ‘Fa’a Samoa Tour’, where a visit to a village community is complimented by an ava ceremony, fire knife dancing, Samoan language and ukulele lesson, traditional arts and crafts workshop and primary school visit.
With rich and immersive experiences in mind, this full day tour endeavours to share the intricacies of village life and identity in a uniquely Samoan environment.
QAMEA RESORT & SPA
Fijian culture is steeped in tradition and values and is a place of family and religion. In order to share the country’s beautiful culture with you, Qamea Resort & Spa offers a number of activities centred around the local Fijian way of life including a traditional kava ceremony, meke (a traditional style of dance) and visits to local villages.
Fijians are proud of their culture and enjoy sharing it. Everyone is welcomed at Qamea Resort & Spa, with staff wanting to get to know guests and share in life experiences. By respecting customs and traditions, you will always be a welcome guest in their villages and homes.
Most Fijians lead simple and stress free lives with high value placed upon spending time with family and loved ones. Fijian etiquette and culture are mostly unspoiled by modern day influences, and you will find that they are naturals at providing warmth, hospitality and kindness.
Guardians of places that have existed long before humans, Soneva’s unique vision is inspired by nature’s magnitude, mystery and enchanting beauty. Founded on shared passions and masters of innovation, they are a thriving community working hand-in-hand with the environment and local cultures to craft beautiful, bespoke experiences where discovery is a way of life.
With their expert hosts as your personal guides, Soneva invite you to explore and delight in the possibility of each moment as time melts away and you lose yourself in experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.
In addition to experiences that showcase the Maldivian landscape that is cherished by locals – such as private sandbank picnics and snorkelling with mantas – guests of Soneva Fushi can embark on a trip to Eydhafushi Island or Maalhos Island to see how locals live.
Eydhafushi is the capital island of Baa Atoll where you can dip your toes in the local culture by watching the islanders as they work, rest and play. Learn how they build their houses, the traditional dhoni boats and prepare their food.
Maalhos is a quaint traditional fishing island with only 600 inhabitants. Visit the area where the local ladies weave mats and baskets as it has been done on the island for hundreds of years.