The private island’s motto “barefoot luxury” means you’ll feel the powdery white sand between your toes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Picture hearing an island is for sale, grabbing a group of friends, setting off on a journey to the deserted destination and handing over a cheque to buy your very own paradise!
Turning this fantasy into a reality is exactly what Australian expat Andrew Dixon and his entourage did nearly 10 years ago. They originally kept the island to themselves, taking their family and friends on camping holidays to soak in the deserted island’s unique allure: powdery white sand beaches, stunning white granite boulders, sparkly rock pools, palm trees, coconuts and beautiful wildlife.
But after a few years (and lucky for us!) they selflessly decided it was time to share their small slice of paradise with other Singaporean residents looking for a weekend getaway from Singapore, with the journey just 2.5 hours from the city by ferry, car and boat.
Today Nikoi Island – named from the local derivation of the Hokkien word “Papaya” – and one of our 10 MOST STUNNING BEACHES IN SOUTH EAST ASIA has become a destination for travellers around the globe.
The 15 beach houses on the private island are hand crafted from eco-sustainable driftwood, creating romantic little beach houses that we can only describe as “rustic luxe.” They’re charming, built high on stilts with balconies and gorgeous alang alang grass roofs, but with modern luxuries including wifi. They feature dreamy master beds draped in romantic mosquito nets and built-in day beds. Because of the open air design, no air con is available – or needed – on the island, with the beautiful evening sea breeze. However, there are ceiling fans above the beds for added comfort for those who need it.
The private island’s motto “barefoot luxury” means you’ll feel the powdery white sand between your toes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The 2 outdoor dining rooms are positioned over swept sand floors, with naturally chic bamboo roofs nestled amongst palm trees and ocean. You’ll capture the best sunset view from the island’s main bar, between both restaurants, looking back towards Bintan Island.
If you go for a walk around to the other side of the island, you will find a second more exclusive bar, built into the cliff and featuring a swimming pool. The views of the white granite boulders here are stunning and very unique. You are also surrounded by the most lush and beautiful green rainforest.
THE PRIVATE ISLAND’S STAFF
A lot of the staff have worked on the island since the beginning and have remained loyal to the Nikoi family. Their big grins sparkle throughout the day and they are clearly very passionate about their work. We learned they only work a 5 day week (most staff in Indonesia work 6) rotating 5 days on the island, 2 days off. They have also been given individual projects to work on, like turtle research and conservation, trialling new techniques for irradiating mosquitos (it must be working because we didn’t see any which is a huge relief with the current Zika threat!) and creating their own condiment and tea recipes from the local fruits.
OUR NIKOI EXPERIENCE
Normally to find a secluded island paradise involves a gruelling international flight and long transfers, but the ease of transport from ferry-to-car-to-boat was refreshing and very welcoming. A friendly Nikoi Island liaison meets you when you step off the ferry and takes your passport to get stamped at immigration while you wait in the comfort of the terminal lounge with a cold drink. It couldn’t have been easier to get there.
The best part of being on the island is you don’t have to think! You don’t need to spend hours procrastinating over what food to order as the talented chefs (based on your dietary requirements) set the 3-course menus for you. Our biggest challenge was making enough room in our stomachs to fit in a 3-course lunch after breakfast, and then being active enough in the afternoon to build up an appetite for dinner! But as soon as you smell the delicious scents of flavours coming from the kitchen, whilst sipping on a sunset cocktail, your stomach starts to get excited for another explosion of local island flavours.
Nikoi also offers a bunch of activities including rock climbing, snorkelling, sailing dinghies, kayaking and windsurfing. There’s a luxury spa with stunning ocean views and a Scallywags kids club for the little ones. And make sure you don’t miss a photo opp on 1 of the 3 ocean swings!