We recently went to Batam, Indonesia for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration and fell in love with the place.
We actually spent the entire time at a resort on Telunas island, which is just South of Singapore in the archipelego of Indonesia. We took a large (and fast) ferry from Harbour Front, Singapore, to Batam, Indonesia, about an hour and a half trip. Then in Batam we boarded long boats powered by three Yamaha F100 outboard engines—enough horsepower to push 18 - 20 adults + children at a good clip. Bonus; the three engines sound great when running together!
It was fun to watch the operators. Each boat had three; one up front on “junk-watch,” one in the rear, left as an extra set of eyes and one steering. Junk-watch is a very useful assistance to have, as the water there is full of debris from coconuts, to wooden planks, to rope (we actually had one engine taken offline after getting rope wrapped around the prop on the way home).
For the first two days we were there, we had enough people that we had the entire resort to ourselves, which was fortunate when the skinny-dipping ensued!
The story on how the owners found the location is interesting. They were touring several islands in the area by boat, looking for inspiration for a socially responsible business to set up and towards the end of their trip, the boat skipper asked if they wanted to see a beautiful beach, which is the beach just opposite from Telunas. They loved the beach and asked if the skipper knew who owns it and he said he did. Soon after they had bought both islands and set up a rough-and-ready adventure resort on the beach side and a luxury resort just opposite it.
The villas at both locations are on stilts with long walkways connecting rows of villas. Fresh water is pumped from underground reserves and is used for drinking, bathing, and on the luxury side, filling a large swimming pool.
Each villa has a basic suite setup on the first floor as well as a loft just above, for additional sleeping. Each villa also had its own water cooler to dispense bottled water and that was the extent of electronics—no TV, no radio, nothing. And since the property didn’t offer wifi and the best cell reception provided access to the Edge network*, the visit served as a nice tech detox as well.
During the day there is plenty to do. There are kayaks and paddleboards to use (we tried the paddleboards and throroughly enjoyed them), a swimming pool to lounge around, a bar to quench your thirst, and loads of sun to take in. The evenings are quiet and peaceful…as long as the guests are. =)
Oh, and since power to the entire resort is supplied by generator, charging cell phones and such is a very slow process. But again, it’s a great tech detox!
Since we didn’t leave Telunas all weekend, I can’t speak for the rest of Batam. On the longboat ride we saw plenty of small fishing villages and plenty of low tide fish traps. Batam houses one of GE’s oil and gas fascilities as well as a subsea fabrication yard (we could see several construction rigs docked near the Batam ferry terminal). Given that, there should be plenty of money around, but most of what we saw along the shore was very low-income housing and Batam doesn’t have a great reputation in Singapore. Having said all that, we would certainly return to Telunas for another long and relaxing weekend!