This Private Island Resort Off Singapore Is Like A Mini-Maldives

Credit: Bawah Reserve

The barefoot seaplane pilot flashes a sign that reads, “10 Minutes Til’ Paradise.” And like clockwork, you’re splashing down onto a crystal clear lagoon in what can only be described as, well, paradise.

Credit: Bawah Reserve

A Pantone palette of blues, lush swaying palm trees, wooden overwater bungalows and sugary white sands welcome you to Bawah Reserve. Opened in 2018, this eco-luxury resort in the remote Anambas Islands of Indonesia is four hours door-to-door from Singapore.

Bawah Reserve island view
Credit: Bawah Reserve

Its tented beach suites and stilted overwater bungalows are straight out of your desk-side fantasies. Depending on which category travelers choose, they’ll lounge among sustainable Indonesian bamboo lattice walls, flowy round bed canopies, pops of nautical blues and antique wallpaper murals. 

Credit: Bawah Reserve

The bathrooms here are one for the design books. Made of teak and bamboo wood, each is outfitted with elegant copper sinks, a matching tub and a circular shower cloaked in a safari-style curtain.

Credit: Bawah Reserve

Guests spend their days kayaking to any of the six surrounding private islands, hiking to deserted beaches, snorkeling the colorful reefs or just lounging with a drink in hand. 

Credit: Bawah Reserve

A day of relaxed island activities is punctuated with spa treatments and fresh, local food. With two restaurants and two bars to choose from, guests can get a tropical fruit parfait with island-made granola, Indonesian-style pizza and fish tacos at the Boat House. At night, a multi-course menu featuring the catch of the day and whatever is grown from the island garden graces plates at Tree Tops.

Credit: Bawah Reserve

And while luxury and sustainability are often oxymorons, Bawah Reserve is the rare exception. Arguably the most sustainable resort in Asia, 50 percent of this plastic-free island runs on solar power. It has its own water desalination plant, recycling plant and bottling plant. 

Credit: Bawah Reserve

The island’s permaculture garden supplies the island with vegetables and fresh honey while also composting its waste. Plus, there is a turtle hatchery with over 1,000 eggs that guests can watch hatch and turtles scuttle into the turquoise waves. And that doesn’t even scratch the sustainability surface.

Top Takeaways

Location: Anambas Islands, Indonesia

Rating: Five-Star

The Vibe: The ultimate in laid-back luxury with service so genuine and warm it’ll feel like your home away from home.

Food + Drink: There are two restaurants and bars at Bawah. You’ll spend most of your time with feet in the sand at the Boat House, with fruit-filled breakfasts and Indonesian lunch classics. Dinner at Tree Tops is high up in the flying fox-filled canopy, where a multi-course menu of locally and ethically sourced meats and fish is the highlight. Finish off the day with a pandan-infused nightcap at Grouper Bar or Jules Verne Bar.

Amenities: Once you arrive, pretty much everything (minus alcohol), from meals to laundry to snorkel equipment to spa treatments, is included. It’s a want-for-nothing kind of castaway experience.

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: It’s hard to argue with its screen-saver locale among some of Indonesia’s most beautiful corals and ocean vistas. But step foot inside the bamboo bathroom with its copper tub against tropical wallpaper, and you’ll swoon.

Any Personal Neighborhood Recs?: You’d be hard-pressed to find a neighboring island within eyesight. Totally remote and celeb-style private, guests can do as much or as little as they want during their stay. 

Rooms: 36 on the main island, six lodges on Elang Private Reserve, Bawah’s exclusive-use private island.

Pricing: Rates start at $1900 on the main island and $18,000 per night at Elang Private Reserve.

Closest Airport: Changi International Airport

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