In the 3 days we spent on the island, we never ate in the same place. The staff meticulously selected different areas of the island for each group of guests to keep the feeling of discovery and excitement fresh in our minds.
The archipelago of Indonesia is full of tropical paradises. Most of the islands are uninhabited but a special few have luxurious accommodation to spoil those lucky enough to have a getaway on a private island. Pulau Joyo is one such paradise that spoils its guests with beachside comfort, pristine beaches & gourmet dining. And the beauty is, this Robinson Crusoe getaway is only 2.5 hours from the busy metropolis of Singapore.
GETTING TO PULAU JOYO, PRIVATE ISLAND
We took the family, which always makes the travel to a destination fun! Being a parent, I am more than aware of the ‘caged tiger’ syndrome, with kids screaming & throwing toys after being stuck in a plane for more than 2 hours, you definitely deserve a holiday once you get to your destination. So for us, Pulau Joyo private island was an easy decision. The fact that we didn’t need to board a plane made the travel oh so much easier, and the boat rides were fun for the kids.
Coming from Singapore, we caught the Bintan Resort Ferries from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in the north east of Singapore. The ferry schedule is quite flexible with over 10 services to choose from between 8:30am – 20:15pm. The Ferries themselves are very comfortable, if you can afford it I would recommend the upgrade to the premium class, not for the added comfort on board the 1 hour ride but more for the fast track in clearing customs at both ends.
When arriving in Indonesia, there was a friendly face from Pulau Joyo waiting for us. We were directed to a spacious van, equipped with a baby seat for our toddler, and some thoughtful snacks and drinks to keep our hunger and thirst at bay. The hour drive is easy, the roads are well maintained and as safe as Indonesia can be with very little traffic. The kids slept most of the way while us adults got an insight into the real life in Indonesia, passing many small villages, viewing the day to day interactions from the locals. There is always something exciting about travelling through areas where English is not commonly spoken.
As we approached the private jetty, the kids were woken by a family of monkeys on the side of the driveway. We boarded a private modern boat for the easy half an hour ride as we headed toward the paradise island, Pulau Joyo, where we were greeted by the friendly staff, waiting for us on our very own beach.
THE DESIGN OF PULAU JOYO
Walking over the small sand dunes with a welcome drink in hand, we were taken back by the construction of the environmentally ergonomic design of the accommodation. The staff had carefully handpicked drift wood from Pulau Joyo and surrounding islands to construct a very deliberate oneness with the island. The driftwood palaces were furnished with princess style four-poster beds, with mosquito nets draped in a regal fashion to our daughter’s delight, her imagination ran wild as she climbed on the bed if she were about to plant a flag into the mattress and took the throne in the declaration of our new ‘holiday home’.
The drift wood palaces have been built with local materials, which while being big and spacious, allows them to have a quaint almost homelike quality. And being on a small tropical island, all the palaces were on the beach, and the layout was well planned. The islands owners were not greedy and refrained from the urge to pile on as many rooms as possible to get a dollar, the generous space between villas allows each family their own private paradise. And the common areas, focused around the 25 metre pool, follow the same trend, offering many chill out zones that are well spaced so you don’t feel like you are rubbing shoulders with other guests but more like you are relaxing in your own, beach house accommodation with your feet in the sand from your villa to the table.
We came for the beaches, but if you don’t like the salt on your skin, the pool, which is centred on the island, is stunningly beautiful. The 25 metre pool is shaded by the original trees on the island that were carefully kept and not lost during the construction of the accommodation. There is a beautiful piece of driftwood, crafted into the pool as a dive board, or as our kids referred to it as the plank on our pirate getaway.
Our breakfast, lunch and dinner experiences were all incredible, with our feet in the sand from our first step off the boat, the settings were very relaxed yet sophisticated enough that we felt spoilt. And the staff made our lunches and dinners fun by leaving us guessing the location right up until our meal was served. In the 3 days we spent on the island, we never ate in the same place. The staff meticulously selected different areas of the island for each group of guests to keep the feeling of discovery and excitement fresh in our minds.
And the food itself was abundant. We were served an array of cuisines from crab, to prawns, tender steak, fresh salads and fruit to lobster tails. In between meals, not that it was needed, there was a self-service area filled with local fruits, homemade biscuits, nuts and brownies along with the standard drinks but also coconuts and cocktails to your liking.
When I could eventually get up from my food coma, we took to the sights and activities on offer. Coming from the city state of Singapore, getting back in touch with nature is always high on our holiday priority lists, so we spent hours on the private white sand beaches. Our mornings were filled with activities such as chasing crabs, collecting beautiful postcard like shells, swimming, splashing, building sand castles, spotting fish and picking up hermit crabs. There were also kayaks and stand up paddle boards on the shore which we took for a spin around the island in less than 15 minutes.
When the sun was at its hottest we retreated to the shade of the pool and relaxed with our feet in the water and our noses in a book, while the kids played quietly on the beautifully manicured grass area and the shallows of the pool.
The staff did remind us that they could take us out further on their boat for snorkelling adventures, but with so much to do on Pulau Joyo and so much relaxing to be done, we never took them up on their offer. The photos from the trips off the island did look spectacular but the view from the pool with a cold beverage in hand was also magnetic.
THE PRIVATE ISLAND’S STAFF
The staff, as you would expect, were incredible. And this is important because the staff can make or break an experience such as Pulau Joyo. Many of them lived around the local area, but some had come from Java and even Bali. The experiences they had gained working for big chain hotels in popular tourist destinations elsewhere in Indonesia gave the staff the knowhow to enable us to get the most out of our holiday. There is a fine line between being attentive to people’s needs and being over the top that one can’t relax. They had the balance nailed.
We and when I say we, I mean myself, my husband, my 5 year old and 2 year old, thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Pulau Joyo. Some getaways can be geared toward kids, or to adults, but Pulau Joyo’s private island allows people of all ages and walks of life to get whatever it is they want from an island experience.
We wanted a break from the hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore, and we found a private island paradise only a mere 2.5 hours away.
Address: Pulau Joyo, Private Island, Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia