Nikoi Island is barefoot luxury writ large; this laid-back, secluded getaway offers an abundance of pristine natural wonders and wildlife encounters. Ringed with white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and coral reefs, and blessed with a rainforest teeming with birds, this tiny island offers the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience.
Situated just off Bintan Island, and a degree north of the equator, Nikoi Island is so unspoilt you feel you’ve rented the whole thing for yourself. The only buildings on the island are the resort’s 15 beautiful Indonesian beach houses, each with a stunning seafront location and perfect sunset view. Affordable and far from pretentious, the resort has 2 pools, affable staff and eco-friendly principles (solar-powered hot water, sustainable buildings, sea turtle conservation). The clientèle are honeymooners, young couples or families whose kids can enjoy treasure hunts, pirate adventures and nature trails. You’ll not be short of things to do – snorkeling, island hopping, fishing, and sailing, and beachcombing, wildlife spotting – or just reclining on a daybed, cocktail in hand.
A scattering of 15 Zen-like stilted wooden beach houses, each with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, lines the western coast. They’re generously spread across 5 hectares – and the island’s remaining 10 hectares are a wildlife sanctuary – so the place doesn’t feel overly crowded (though we fear it would if more were built).
Each house is open to the elements and has been created using driftwood and thatched grass alang alang roofs. The 2- and 3-bedroom houses have spilt-level, spaciouswooden walkways between the bedrooms and bathrooms.
Décor is cream and white with polished wooden floors. Rooms are enhanced with seashell-embellished furniture, cosy sofas and wooden deckchairs on the verandas, which face the ocean. Ceilings are high and vaulted with fans; windows are open and unglassed. Downstairs is an open sand-floored lounge area complete with daybeds and a massage sala. Each house has an iPod dock and speaker system.
The bedrooms are all on the upper floor and feature kingsize four-poster beds draped with mosquito nets and dressed with luxurious white cotton linen; this is changed every other day. Bathrooms are artfully crafted from natural stone and wood; you get a shower and basic toiletries such as shampoo and body wash.
Sustainable energy is the overall focus. The houses were designed to not need air con, using fans or open windows instead (hence the houses are all sea facing for that breeze).
- Watersports are the order of the day here. Swimming, sailing, island hopping, windsurfing, diving, kayaking, fishing – you name it, you can do it
- The snorkelling around Nikoi is first rate thanks to its powder-white beaches and clear waters – the sea is teeming with little Nemos. Wreck diving can be arranged with advance notice. In general it’s best to go diving and snorkelling between March and November
- Zone out on your daybed with a good book, or indulge in a deep-tissue Balinese massage in your sala
- Soak up the natural attractions: we saw lizards, tropical butterflies, golden orb spiders and geckos during our stay; dolphins can also be spotted
- Sea turtles nest on the beach from March to September. The resort runs a conservation programme and guests can sometimes help release hatchlings into the surf
- Take a dip in one of the 2 swimming pools located to the right of the villas. The pool bar and loungers overlooking the crisp ocean are perfect for sundowners. Beach volleyball and boules are available
- Visit neighbouring Bintan or other islands for mountain biking, adventure trekking or rock climbing – Nikoi teams up with a local group to arrange these
- Keen bird lovers should look out for the resident white bellied eagle on the hill. Bright yellow golden orioles and stork billed kingfishers can occasionally be spotted in the mangroves
- Send the kids off on an island adventure with the informally run Kids Club. We saw the staff taking children on treasure hunts, climbing the granite boulders, going on nature trails and searching rock pools with gusto
- Beachcombers will love the shells on the strand
It’s a 45-minute high-speed catamaran ferry ride from Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry terminal to Bintan. Ferries operate up to 5 times a day. You’ll then take a 1-hour transfer across Bintan, followed by a further 15-minute launch ride to Nikoi. It’s essential to book the ferry in advance if travelling at weekends or holidays. The resort can arrange transfers from Bintan for you; see Rates. It can also provide an information sheet before arrival and advise on travel to Bintan from Singapore.
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