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Bawah Reserve, Indonesia’s Incredible Private Island Retreat


If you are bored with Bali and tired of Thailand, Bawah Reserve could well be the answer to an experientialist’s prayer. This private island resort in the South China Sea is out of the way and most definitely out of this world. You will fall in love with it from the get-go.

Bawah Reserve in Indonesia is one for the bucket-list, a remote archipelago of pristine coral islands cast adrift in the South China Sea. Saved from destruction by illegal dynamite fishing, this private atoll is now a marine reserve and ultra-exclusive eco-retreat. From the moment your sea plane touches down on the shallow turquoise lagoon, you’ll be totally absorbed by the six tropical islets with impossibly white sand against a jaw-dropping backdrop of virgin jungle. And it’s all yours to explore.

This retreat blends discreetly into its island surrounds, hand-built to minimise its ecological impact. Sandy paths and ironwood walkways connect the 36 thatched villas and safari-style tents, some secluded among lush foliage, others on stilts above crystalline water just a few feet above the colourful fish.

Activities and spa treatments are part of your stay, so days can be spent kayaking, snorkelling and learning to cook. From bespoke beach picnics and five-course treetop suppers to guided jungle hikes and massages, you’ll be cossetted with genuine warmth. Ideal for barefoot honeymoons or off-grid adventures, Bawah is a rare gem indeed.

Where is Bawah Reserve located and how to get there?

Enveloped by lush tropical greenery and azure blue ocean, Bawah Reserve rests in sheltered carefree seclusion 160 nautical miles (300km) northeast of Singapore in Indonesia’s remote Anambas Archipelago. Surrounded by clear turquoise waters, blue lagoons and coral reefs, this pristine and previously uninhabited marine conservation area caters to outdoor adventurers with an appetite for indulgence as well as paradise seekers looking for relaxation. Bawah offers the true meaning of sustainable luxury.

No arrival to an island is as thrilling as via seaplane. Your journey starts in Singapore, where you will be collected from your hotel, airport or residence by a chauffeur and escorted to Batam International Airport, where you will board the Bawah private seaplane for a smooth 80-minute journey, landing on Bawah Reserve’s spectacular lagoon in front of your suite.

What sort of accommodation is available at Bawah Reserve?

Hand-built from recycled teak, bamboo and driftwood, the 36 bungalows and suites were carefully designed to immerse guests in nature. Simple yet stylish, the wooden structures have high-pitched ceilings and bamboo lattice walls, which allow a gentle breeze and natural ventilation. Canopied four-poster beds feature luxury cotton linens, while open-air bathrooms have rain showers and deep copper tubs.

The real showstoppers are the Overwater Bungalows, stilted above a picturesque lagoon, with huge daybeds on wooden decks and idyllic views of sunsets or sunrises. Ideal for honeymooners.

Dotted along the water are the safari-style Beach Suites, with canvas roofs stretched across their private verandas. The Deluxe Beach Villa is ideal for families with older children, with two (or three) suites, a separate living area and a private plunge pool.

Behind the beach suites are the Garden Suites, nestled in the jungle foliage, where you’ll wake to the sound of tropical birds flitting among the trees.

What activities are available?

  • Enjoy a complimentary daily treatment at the open-air Aura Spa when you will enjoy massages, scrubs, yoga and meditation
  • Snorkel in the shallow lagoon with its colourful coral walls; you might come face-to-face with parrotfish, turtles, even a blacktip reef shark
  • Learn to dive at the on-site dive centre; the surrounding waters hide world-class dive sites
  • Hike through the jungle interior to a deserted beach; trek up to the ridge for stunning island views
  • Try windsurfing and Stand-up Paddle-boarding
  • Take a boat and picnic to Turtle Beach and spend a relaxed afternoon in complete privacy
  • Cosy up on a beanbag at the outdoor cinema, once a week a huge outdoor screen shows classic hits on the beach
  • Peer through the resort’s telescope at one of the clearest night skies imaginable. Truly breath-taking

Is Bawah Reserve suitable for children?

Though families with children over 5 are welcome, Bawah Island Reserve isn’t suitable for very young children due to its remote location and rugged terrain. If you have older kids, they will love having a deserted island and natural playground at their disposal, and playing on the beaches, snorkelling or sailing in the shallow lagoons, and taking cooking classes, guided jungle walks or playing tennis.

Best for - Children (5-12 years), Teens (over 12)

There is family friendly accommodation, and all suites can fit an extra single bed, though booking two suites is a more comfortable option as they are really designed for two. The Deluxe Beach Villa comprises two (or three) suites, set 50m apart, so are suitable for teenagers wanting a little independence (beds can be made up as twins).

What should you pack?

Lightweight, natural materials are key for all your clothing. We suggest that you bring t-shirts and shorts, and barefoot glamour – if you wish – for the balmy evenings.

Footwear: sandals, flip flops or beach shoes, shoes for hiking (trainers are sufficient or anything with a grip).

Clothing: beachwear, a sarong, sunglasses, swimwear.

Please note that the seaplane allows a maximum of 15kg of luggage per guest however their boutique stocks sunglasses, swimwear and resort wear for men and women.

When is the best time to go to Bawah Reserve?

Bawah Island Reserve is close to the equator and has a humid year-round climate. The best time to visit is from March onwards, just after the wet northeast monsoon ends (November-February). Daily temperatures average 26-29C.

For further information, please do feel free to contact Nicola directly or at The Explorations Company for further inspiration and unforgettable safaris and holidays to Africa, Asia, and Latin America

Or, if you would like to just dream some more for now then you can by visiting our Video Library.

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