Nobody does shabby chic quite like Nikoi. Live coral reefs with schools of fish and turtles laying eggs on the beaches. Views right out over the ocean with private daybeds especially for in-villa massages. This Indonesian private island is so peaceful and serene, the only issue is that you may never want to go home. What more could you want for the perfect luxury family holiday. (Don’t miss your chance to win a family holiday to Nikoi courtesy of suitcases&strollers. Read on for more info.) *THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED*
The Destination: Nikoi With Kids
For those who like the theory of a Robinson Crusoe-like adventure island but with all the modern charms of a resort, this is ideal. Nikoi does not pretend to be like any old cookie cutter five star resort. Instead, it has its own distinct charms. And located conveniently just on the other side of Bintan, Indonesia, its best point of entry is from Singapore which makes it accessible to just about everybody.
Nikoi is all about rustic luxury. It has modernised the traditional Indonesian architecture to create beautiful beach villas out of recycled materials that fit in with the tropical surrounds. And that’s what defines Nikoi best – embracing its environment by maintaining the rainforest feel, using washed up driftwood as sculptural art and providing holiday resources with minimal impact on the ecology.
All over the island are activities for all ages – but with the quaint and distinctive Nikoi signature. Tennis is on a real grass court (best played barefoot) and the swimming pool is magically set among the huge natural boulder formations (but requires a walk through the rainforest to get there). Throughout the day various ad hoc activities are randomly announced – some evenings there in a huge bonfire, other afternoons an impromptu children’s treasure hunt.
Particularly for kids over 6 (or those who are independent enough to play unsupervised) there is a wealth of adventure. When the tide is low, the beaches reveal rock pools and exposed coral reefs (pack suitable wet shoes for searching for small fish and crabs). Mangroves also abound for playing shipwrecks. When the tide is high, the waters are clear for decent snorkeling and there is a host of watersports including kayaking, wind surfing plus there is the massive blow up trampoline right out on the water.
The kids club is not what you’d traditionally expect – it is not a babysitting service (although on-request babysitting is available) – but a rather cool hangout with a pirate ship, zip line and tree house, homemade with recycled materials. In the evenings there is a makeshift cinema and during the daytime their resident big kid, Yogi, makes neat play weapons. If you're on the other side of the island, you don't need to worry. Ask the staff about the Nikoi app which has a live streaming camera direct into the kids club.
Meals are all pre-set so there is no menu which makes for a no-brainer experience. Unless you have dietary restrictions, you eat whatever’s served up. While there are two huge communal dining tables, seating is arranged so that you don’t really have to talk to your neighbours unless you want to – or you can make it one large party.
In fact, the whole of Nikoi is about what you make it. Apart from mealtimes, there is no schedule to follow. If you want your kids to meet plenty of other families and socialise at the beach (while you socialise at the bar), there’s always guests who will join you. But if you prefer a quiet private holiday, there are plenty of spots on the island where you can retreat with a bucket, shovel and good book and just soak it all in.
With the clean white sands, abundant wildlife, clear waters and quintessential tropical island feel, Nikoi is the perfect family holiday destination.
The Practicalities of Nikoi With Kids
While Nikoi is luxurious, it is proud of its rustic heritage. This means some modern conveniences are missing – there are no televisions, air conditioners and mobile phone and internet reception are only basic at best. There are no mini bars in the rooms – you will need to stock perishable baby supplies in the main kitchen. Bring a light cotton sweater for cool weather and all the relevant sun and insect protectants for warm weather.
Similarly, don’t expect golf buggies to ferry you round the resort or in-room phones to call up room service. (Although you can now order coffees and drinks to your room via the Nikoi app.) To get from one part of the island to the other you will need to use your own leg power, so bring a stroller if your children can’t manage significant walks and pack some light snacks (such as dried fruits or museli bars) for the kids. [For a handy list of travel-friendly foods, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
The easiest way to access Nikoi is via Singapore which involves a ferry to Bintan, Indonesia, land transfer and then another speedboat ride. The drive is windy and the boat can be choppy (depending on the weather) so if your kids are prone to motion sickness, come prepared.
Since Nikoi’s accommodation is all traditional-style two storey villas, very young children will require a lot of supervision. All villas are open air (with a roof but exposed walls) without toddler-proof safety rails or guards (although these are available on advance request). If you have kidlets who love to climb but are too young to understand danger you will need to be on high alert at all times.
It is not safe to drink the water in Indonesia. Only use bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth and be wary of children drinking water in the shower. (There are no baths on Nikoi.)
To see a review about Nikoi from a suitcases&strollers reader, click here.
For family beach safety tips from the team at Bondi Rescue, read the suitcases&strollers interview here.
To win a family holiday to Nikoi plus loads of other fantastic prizes, click here. *THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED*