Private resort getaways, where there is a focus on luxury and service, are what many travellers seek nowadays, and there are indeed a few such places easily accessible to Singaporeans.
There is one island, however, that offers us the greatest value for money – and time, considering how close it is to our sunny island.
Nikoi Island rests just 85km from Singapore and is only 2.5 hours by ferry and speed boat away. Surprisingly, however, not many Singaporeans have heard of it. Well, fear not. I recently spent a few days on Nikoi Island, and I’ve got all you need to know about it right here, so read on to find out more about this 15-hectare paradise in Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
It’s one of the world’s best private island resorts
The Nikoi Island experience is so legendary, it actually made its way into Condé Nast Traveller’s list of “The World’s 22 Most Incredible Private Islands“. Standing toe-to-toe with private island resorts in exotic locations like Belize and The Grenadines is no small feat.
It’s the most bang-for-your-buck private island resort
Right now, there are a whole bunch of rather good private island resorts in the Philippines. On top of the list are Ariara and Amanpulo, but those resorts are pretty exorbitant, to say the least. A room at Amanpulo resort, for example, would cost US$1,375 a night, while Ariara charges US$715 per person, per night if you’re in a group of 6-8 guests. The smaller your group, the more expensive the stay.
Contrast that to a one bedroom villa at Nikoi Island for two at S$390 (weekdays) or S$500 (weekends), and you can see why Nikoi is a clear winner. Even with room and board at S$90++ per day, it’s more than worth the price of admission.
It’s really close to Singapore
The 15-hectare Nikoi Island is just 20 minutes off the east of Bintan by speed boat. This means that it takes about 2-and-a-half hours in total to get transported from Singapore to the island paradise of Nikoi. I learnt that the owners are expatriates who live and work in Singapore, so they definitely understand the need for a quick and easy getaway.
You’re VIP all the way
I didn’t expect it, but once I booked my Nikoi getaway, I was told that there would be VIP service once I got off the ferry. True enough, my immigration clearance was handled for me while I waited in a VIP lounge, and my bags were quickly placed in a car before I was whisked away to a private jetty 40 minutes from Bintan’s main ferry terminal.
That level of VIP treatment continued all the way throughout my stay on Nikoi Island, and didn’t end until I boarded the ferry home.
For families with kids, this is a boon! I personally witnessed a few sets of parents breathe a sigh of relief at being able to skip the long immigration queues.
The service is truly top class
Whether it’s advice on which water activities to do at different times of the day, tailoring meals to your preference, or making sure you’re absolutely comfortable in your villa, the service is impeccable. It’s not just warm and friendly, it’s also discreet and non-intrusive.
The Nikoi Island staff are also constantly on the lookout for the wellbeing of the guests. While I was out kayaking, there was a lady who paddle-boarded way too far out to sea, and upon spotting her from the jetty, the staff immediately hopped onto a speedboat to make sure she was safe. It may seem like a small incident, but the attention to details and safety of guests helped us relax, knowing we were in the best of hands.
You can live a guilt-free, Crusoe Luxe Life
Nikoi Island does not espouse the gold-gilded, decadent and wasteful type of luxury. Villas are solar-powered and built using only local materials, labour and techniques. The island is also 100% supplied by local markets and small traders, so ingredients are fresh.
I really appreciated how the management at Nikoi Island was also committed to ensuring the wellbeing of the surrounding marine life and coral reef. It’s rare for island resorts to focus on environmental sustainability nowadays, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nikoi Island was one of them.
You can see Hawksbill turtles lay eggs
There is a possibility of seeing Hawksbill turtles landing in the dark to lay their eggs during the correct seasons (early-February onwards) and if you’re lucky, you will be able to see Nikoi Island staff release turtle hatchlings after they incubate in the sand (May onwards). The island also has a conservation officer that helps to find and protect turtle eggs from the monitor lizards that are native to the island.
Convinced on making a trip down to Nikoi Island? Check out our recommended itinerary for a relaxing 3-day/2-night trip to the luxurious private resort.