Nikoi Island

Riau Islands, Bintan Islands, Indonesia Book from Book from £212 per night

Eco-friendly luxury on a serene private island in Indonesia - just 2 hours from Singapore
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 - snorkelling, island hopping, fishing, sailing, beachcombing, wildlife spotting - or just reclining on a daybed, cocktail in hand.

Highs

  • Super-friendly, dedicated staff make the experience complete - they called us by name and remembered our favourite things
  • Beachfront massages in your private sala, where the only soundtrack is the sea
  • Yummy food using locally sourced, fresh products
  • Spacious, Zen-like beach houses that can accommodate 2-6 people
  • Abundant wildlife including sea turtles, monitor lizards, komodo dragons, butterflies, monkeys, eagles and geckos
  • The most fantastic carpet of stars at night time

Lows

  • Book early - it's often full!
  • Expect to see creepy crawlies, though each house has mosquito nets and coils to keep them at bay
  • The food is delicious, but set meals are the only option (though special dietary requirements can be catered for)
  • Bit of a schlepp to get to: a ferry from Singapore to Bintan, then a taxi and a private launch - all up, a journey of 2 hours
  • No phones or TVs in the rooms - but there's mobile reception, limited WiFi, movie projectors, iPod docks, and you can borrow books, mags and board games
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    Some 2-bedroom houses have 1 double room and 1 twin room (others have 2 double rooms). Some 1-bedroom houses have a separate sleeping area with bunk beds, ideal for children.

    Parents should know...

    Because the island is surrounded by coral, toddlers and babies might need aquasocks.
  • Cots
  • High chairs

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

The informal Kids Club runs activities everyday, from making shell necklaces or bows and arrows, to nature walks, rock climbing and jetty jumping. Older children can enjoy watersports (including a floating trampoline), and the staff keep younger children entertained in the evenings with pirate treasure hunts and open-air screenings of children's films.

Food can be served in your beach house or in the restaurant and you can also order picnic hampers. Children are charged at half an adult rate. It is usual for children's meals to be served separately from adults' meals, so let the staff know if you want to eat together. The children's menu changes daily, but popular dishes include fish and chips, roast chicken, hamburgers and, of course, fresh fruit.

  • Swimming, snorkelling and a wide array of watersports
  • Island adventures with the Nikoi Kids Club staff: treasure hunts, rock climbing, nature trails and rockpools
  • 2 pools, a cinema, volleyball, boules and board games
  • A dressing up box with mermaid and pirate outfits
  • Beaches
  • Jungles
  • Boat trips

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
  • Beach Resort
  • 15 beach houses
  • Restaurant and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
Room: 1-Bedroom Beach House

Rooms

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, spacious wooden 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).

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Ipod dock
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals are created using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients; menus change on a day-to-day basis. Guests get 3 meals a day (it's a lot of food), which are taken at a communal table in the open-sided, sand-floor restaurant at the beachfront clubhouse. If you want more privacy, secluded picnics can be arranged on the beach or on a neighbouring deserted island.

Although not exactly fine dining, the resort serves up tasty simple fare in generous portions. The service is slick and attentive. The highlight of our stay was a seafood lunch: generous portions of juicy baked snapper, steamed bok choi with soy and garlic, fresh Niçoise salad and vivid saffron rice, followed by a warm, rich chocolate torte.

Dinner was a choice of tender steak or freshly caught fish with a rustic tomato pasta, a selection of stir-fried or steamed vegetables, and a melt-in-the-mouth dessert - ours was an apple tart. Breakfasts are quite basic - tropical fruit, cereal, and eggs with toast - but are still satisfying.

Cocktails at Nikoi are the order of the day - and priced very reasonably for a private island. Yogi (the famed bar manager) has an inventive streak and dishes up his own tried and tested cocktails alongside regular classics. The favourite - his ‘Yogicolada’ - was creamy (fresh coconut cream) and fruity with a nice kick. All drinks can be served in any of the 3 bars, or taken back to your villa.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Communal dining
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Best Time to go

As Nikoi is one degree north of the equator the temperature almost always hovers between 26-30C. From mid-December to mid-February there's a north east monsoon, when the chance of rain is higher, but the weather is still fairly mild.

Our Top Tips

Bring your iPod (loaded with suitably chilled music to match the surroundings) so you can make the most of the in-room docks and speaker systems.
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 6 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

We had the most amazing time on Nikoi Island. We were made to feel very special from the moment we stepped off the Ferry at Bintan. All the staff are kind and considerate and made a huge fuss of our 2 children much to their delight. The island itself is a large serving of paradise. You cannot fail to relax and soak up the chic yet laid back setting and atmosphere. The food menu was outstanding and the family restaurant staff went out of their way to provide our kids with sand toys and entertainment so we could continue to enjoy our meal once the children were finished and looking for distraction. The kids were also given a wide range of fun activities daily, from fishing to jetty jumping to wooden crafts and jewelry making. Each evening came to a
close with the children toasting marshmallows on beach followed by watching an open air movie all snuggled up on large beanbags! My 5 year old son spent 4 days with a wooden bow and arrow permanently attached to his person and could not get enough of his hand crafted sword and shield! As adults we also enjoyed participating in the fun activities as well as a guided nature walk of the island, watching the wildlife and a birthday dinner on the beach! Nikoi has set a high bar to beat and touched us all from my 2.5 year old to my 70 year old parents!

10/10,

We would echo the previous comments regarding the high quality of the staff. The hotel does not offer a choice of food but the food was also of high quality, especially when one bears in mind that it all has to be shipped from the mainland. We travelled child-free, but observed that the staff did a really good job of keeping the little monsters amused and out of harm and other guests' way. But prospective guests should bear in mind the following: 1) The pool area is shaded except in the early morning so not good for sunbathing. 2) It seems that the sea can be quite rough in December/January, limiting the opportunities for swimming and snorkelling. 3) In accordance with the owners' eco-friendly principles, the cabanas are really dimly lit (so as not to disturb the nesting turtles or overstrain the electric supply) and are kept cool not by AC but by being open sided. In hot weather you might face an unenviable trade-off between closing the shutters and sweltering and suffering a mosquito invasion.

9/10,

Nikoi Island was the perfect low-key luxury retreat for our family. The small number of villas means there is a very secluded, private feel - there were many occasions when we were the only family in the pool! The staff were lovely, efficient and attentive and the resort has a fantastic range of activities for children. The island design is stunning and the food was sensational. The proximity to Singapore makes it an accessible trip for Australian families looking for something a bit different. Highly, highly recommended.

10/10,

We enjoyed the most incredible family holiday on Nikoi. It's the only place we've visited that we'd like to return to. Annually. Forever.

10/10,

Nikoi is wonderful. The staff are incredibly friendly. Our 4 year old son absolutely loved it: kids club with a total difference. Original fun. He refused to wear shoes the whole time we were there.
The food was amazing and the menu changed every day.
I suppose the only disappointment, if it could be described as one was the pool. It was a little underwhelming and was a distance from the main parts of the island but that might be both negative and positive.
There was no air con in the gorgeous accommodation but again not a huge issue.

9/10,

A unique hotel and setting. The staff are amazing. I couldn't be happier with our holiday choice this year.

10/10,

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Rates for Nikoi Island