Nikoi Island, Indonesia

Photo: Nikoi Island
Photo: Nikoi Island

It’s been a long week in Singapore. Between endless meetings, late client dinners, and trying not to fall behind on emails, you’re exhausted. But the thought of the 19-hour flight home isn’t too comforting either. That can wait a few days, can’t it? You deserve a break—or at least a long weekend—before returning to work again.

In just a few hours, plus a couple of ferry rides, you could be at a boutique hotel on a private island in Indonesia. From Singapore, head south to Bintan Island, a former trading post on the China-India route in the Riau Archipelago. From the launch on the east coast, it’s a quick ride to Nikoi Island. There you’ll find huge granite boulders, white-sand beaches, and just 15 beach houses. You’ll have the island practically to yourself.

Upon your arrival, you’re handed a cold, scented towel and a glass of tropical fruit juice. The 42-acre island is filled with huge banyan trees and chirping birds. Mangroves lie on the east coast. Rope swings dangle in the water. Rock pools and those impressive boulders dot the beach. Nesting sea turtles will soon come ashore. Plus a vibrant reef—that attracts cuttlefish, sweetlips, and octopuses—is just a few yards offshore.

Photo: Nikoi Island
Photo: Nikoi Island

The stilted buildings, in true eco-resort fashion, are barely visible from the shore. They’re made of driftwood and have thatched alang-alang roofs that make air conditioning unnecessary. Not that you’d want it on anyway, since everything is open for indoor-outdoor living. Your one-bedroom villa has a wide balcony with an uninterrupted view of the water. A swinging daybed and an iPod speaker system are inside. While the first bathroom has a cool stone floor; the second one, on the ground floor, is perfect for a quick rinse when you return from the beach. You haven’t even unpacked, yet you’re already quite comfortable.

When you’re ready to start exploring, hike up the small hill for views over the South China Sea. Go swimming in the freshwater pool that sits between more giant boulders, sip a fruity cocktail at the pool bar, and lounge on the wooden boardwalk on the eastern shore. Go rock climbing on the steep white boulders on the island’s northern tip. You’ll have a view of offshore iPod Rock, which looks just like its name. Swim in the clear lagoon. Find starfish in the rock pools. Look for little seahorses through your snorkel mask. Then play tennis on the grass court. Though the resort is almost at capacity, it hasn’t felt crowded all day.

After a quick nap on your balcony, head to the sunset lounge to watch the sun disappear over the horizon and the sky turn brilliant shades of pink. You have a huge grin on your face as you sip a glass of Chablis from a soft, sand-colored couch. Move to the dining room, which has a sandy floor and a long table made of driftwood, to eat a beef caesar salad and pasta with grilled shrimp. Then listen to the softly crashing waves as you finish a nightcap, before heading back to your villa. You’ve already missed one flight heading home, and now you’re hoping that you might “accidentally” miss a few more.


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