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Indonesia / Bawah Reserve

For anyone interested in an eco-conscious hideaway that doesn’t compromise on style or cosseting will fall hard for this private island resort, northeast of Singapore.

Saved from destruction by illegal dynamite fishing, Bawah is the brainchild of Tim Hartnoll who made it into a marine reserve. From the outset there has been a clear commitment to sustainability, with Singaporean designer Sim Boon Yang paying careful attention to the local environment with hand-built villas made from bamboo. Eco-credentials are prevalent; ocean-friendly suncream, solar-powered hot water and a zero waste programme.

An 80-minute seaplane journey leads to 13 white beaches, six uninhabited islands and three lagoons – this is a place that draws people looking to disconnect from the outside world. There’s a choice of just 36 rooms; beach suites are popular, overwater bungalows have direct lagoon access, and safari-style tented suites make the most of the jungle terrain. With no televisions and limited Wi-Fi, outward-bound grown-ups fill their time with early morning hikes, snorkelling with giant bump head parrotfish or picnicking on a private beach. And once all the playing is done, most gather at Tree Tops restaurant where the lights are fashioned like a bloom of jellyfish. It’s pretty rare to experience somewhere that feels this off-the-grid.

Travel notes:

  • Six islands, 13 private beaches and three lagoons to discover
  • 11 overwater bungalows, 21 beach suites, three garden suites and a jungle lodge
  • Daily spa treatment for each guest
  • Open-air cinema screenings at the Boat House, by the infinity pool or on your suite balcony
  • Older children are welcome; the Deluxe Beachfront Villa has the option of a second tented-safari bedroom which makes for extra space
  • Part of Bawah Anambas Foundation which focuses on the regeneration of land, sea and communities – it was created to conserve and expand the biodiversity of more than 200 islands in the region

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When to visit Indonesia?

Bali and Lombok have a hot, tropical climate year round, with May to September being the most popular months to visit when there is less humidity. Bintan Island is best visited during the dry season, March to November.

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