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Nikoi Island Review

My friend Tania was seeking recommendations for child friendly resorts a boat ride from Singapore.  ‘Club Med Bintan?’ I offered, although I could already see her shaking her head.  ‘Batu Batu in Malaysia?’, then I remembered she quite fancied access to a kids club. Suddenly the penny dropped, of course there was somewhere that perfectly fit the bill. The sister property to the amazing adults only Cempedak… the family friendly Nikoi Island in Indonesia!

About Nikoi

The property has a great story.  Nikoi was developed following disenchantment with the standard of holiday accommodation on offer within easy reach of Singapore. As the owners put it ‘It was either flea-ridden shacks or opulently garish five-star hotels; cultural sensitivity, vernacular design and simple luxuries were seemingly unheard of.’ As you’ll see from Tania’s review, and my experience on Cempedak, they really have achieved something special.

Where is Nikoi?

Nikoi is a 15-hectare private island 8km off the east coast of Bintan, Indonesia.  From Singapore, you’ll need to catch a ferry from Tanah Merah which takes approx. 1 hour to Bintan. Nikoi will only meet certain ferries so be sure to check in advance before you book. From arrival on Bintan, it is then another 1 hour private car transfer and then a 20 minute speedboat ride.

When to go to Nikoi?

The best time of year is from March to November. Monsoon season begins in January and the weather is unpredictable.  They can suggest which room would be better e.g. room no 1 to 7 for more breeze. Rooms no 7 to 15 on the south side are quieter.

How to book

Book directly through their website. You have the choice of 1 or 2 bedroom beach house, both also have the option of a bunk room. There is also a 3 bed beach house.

If you’re a family of 4 then you only need a 1 bed villa as the two day beds are actually beds.  The 1 bed plus bunk is really for older kids as the door to the bedroom is exposed completely.  I could have saved about $500 if I’d known that.

Cost-wise, Nikoi is not cheap.  For 4 nights, including transfers from Bintan, I paid around $3,500 for the 3 of us, which includes all meals.

How’s the room?

Stunning, in fact you can check out a video on Jetlag & Mayhem’s Instagram. The rooms are crafted from driftwood with grass roofs.  Each have the same master bedroom and ensuite upstairs. Downstairs is a chill-out zone with open lounge and daybeds.

Activities

  • You might be lucky enough to see the turtles hatching on the beach. The seabed is shallow and the area has pristine hard coral gardens. This means the chance to spot stingrays, seahorses, octopus and more.
  • Nightly bonfire
  • Snorkelling – we saw sea urchins and clown fish. We took our own snorkelling gear but actually this is all included as with kayaking, Sup boarding and a few other activities.
  • The beach is lovely
  • The pool is quite small and we saw very few people in it
  • No traditional fitness centre but your room comes with a TRX band should you want to work out
  • Stunning grass  tennis court
  • The staff are phenomenal and really cater to what you need.  I had a beautiful Javanese massage and they organised a babysitter for the time, even though there is a Kids Club. This way they had someone looking after the kids and would prevent them from coming into the Spa!

Kids Club

The Kids Club is fab and the kids just happily sauntered off after breakfast, looking for friends to get up to mischief with. This isn’t I guess Club Med circus skills but very basic stuff. Necklace making, woodcrafting, climbing trees, jetty jumping and fishing. I pretty much joined in as loved it.

Dining

There are two dining rooms. One for families with older kids or adult travellers and another for younger families.  Think that worked well really.
You can chose from Indo or western breakfast. Given with kids we went western which was abundant.  Can order hot cooked sausages eggs etc as well as the usual selection of tropical fruit and cereals. Pastries change daily and are locally centred. Sticky rice with jelly which was amazing. All produce is locally sourced.
You do have an option for kids meals so if you don’t like what’s on offer just ask for an alternative eg pizza spaghetti Bol etc. I had the Indo meals for lunch and dinner and they were outstanding. I’m not a big portion eater but if you were they always asked if you wanted more.
Drinks are extra but v reasonably priced eg pina colada think sgd 12. The bar has a few games to borrow including giant jenga

Overall

The highlight for me was the whole centre around the four c’s. Conservation, community, culture and commerce. Definitely do the sustainability walk to show how the Island works and operates as it’s mostly off the grid.
I’d happily spend a week there and met some wonderful people there as well.
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