Bawah Reserve is tropical oasis comprising six idyllic private islands that are located in the Anambas regional archipelago of Indonesia. Here, visitors will discover three azure lagoons, 13 soft white sand beaches, and several mangrove swamps. Situated approximately 150 nautical miles northeast from Singapore, Bawah is so isolated and remote that it is only accessible via a one-and-a-half-hour private twin-engine seaplane ride that departs from the Hang Nadim airport in Batam, Indonesia. The entire island resort accommodates a maximum of 70 guests at any single time. Accommodations include 35 villa-style suites (three Garden Suites, 21 Beachfront Suites, and 11 Overwater Bungalows) that are spaced out across the front of the main island. Each suite comes with your very own butler.
Couples and families alike come to Bawah seeking a chance to relax and enjoy nature in a secluded destination. The entire island retreat feels fairly deserted most of the time, with the only sounds you hear during your stay coming from the tranquil waves upon the shore, and the distant hum of the propeller engines of the seaplane as it lands and takes off twice a day to ferry the guests to and from the island.
A thoughtful and welcomed personal touch that truly delighted me was to see wooden panel signboards with our names artistically written in grains of sand that hung at the entrance to our spacious overwater bungalow. We even got to keep these panels as special souvenirs and a personalized mementos of our stay.
All suites are well equipped with everything that you might require, such as insect repellent, snorkelling equipment, stylish ponchos, straw beach tote bags, and sun hats.
There are no televisions and satellite Internet connectivity is limited, which ensures that guests slow down their pace and fully immerse in the Bawah islander experience.
Bawah Reserve is home to spectacular coral reefs and several species of marine creatures such as butterfly fish, sea turtles, parrotfish, squid, jellyfish, and small harmless sharks. Snorkelling excursions, scuba dives, and catamaran sailing trips around the islands provide guests a keen sense and appreciation of the myriad living corals and local marine life. While kayaking in a see-through bottom kayak, I even got to witness a pair of flying fish majestically leaping out of the waters and then elegantly gliding a good distance before gracefully submerging back into the placid sea.
Paddleboarding is also a fun way to explore the untouched mangrove swamps and the coral reefs set around pristine crystal-clear waters consisting of iridescent shades of turquoise, teal, azure, and aquamarine.
A thick and dense jungle canopy of coconut and palm trees surround the sparkling lagoons and mangrove coves that play hosts to a plethora of striking and captivating wildlife such as birds, lizards, insects, starfish, and cute miniature crabs.
After a day exploring the island and enjoying all its natural beauty, you are sure to have worked up an appetite. Bawah’s experienced chefs hail from around the world and pride themselves on crafting the most delectable and aesthetically pleasing cuisine and beverage creations. In order to maintain freshness, all the executive chefs and kitchen hands work tirelessly around the clock to cook and prepare bespoke culinary meals on-demand to satiate the resort guests who are absolutely spoiled for choice with the extensive, customizable menu.
Local produce and seafood are brought in daily to complement what is already organically grown in the fertile volcanic soils of Bawah’s farms. The scrumptious signature salads are tossed with leafy greens, sliced fruits, chopped nuts, and your choice of meat, poultry, or fish, and then splashed with light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Some of my favorite dishes here include the blue crab tartare, and the sizzling grilled seafood that are seasoned with exotic Indonesian spices and garnished with herbs grown and harvested on-site. For a romantic sunset dining experience, a picnic or candle lit alfresco dinner table on the beach can also be organized and prepared for your enjoyment.
Guests at the resort get to indulge in as many massages, facials, and spa treatments as they like during their stay (based on availability). At the end of each rejuvenating session at the cozy Aura Spa, the masseurs make light casual banter before serving you with some freshly brewed Indonesian Jamu, which is a spicy and tasty speciality health elixir made from clove, star anise, cinnamon, turmeric, lemongrass, royal jelly, raw honey, and other detoxifying herbal ingredients. The warm and delicious cup of lovingly made Jamu served with a sweet smile was a simple pleasure that I remembered fondly, and is hands down the perfect heavenly treat to nourish and revitalize the senses right after a relaxing spa treatment.
The head concierge told me that the majority of visitors merely wish to rest and relax, taking it easy throughout the duration of their stay. As such, most guests do not make the fairly arduous hike uphill through the three designated forested nature trails over at the largest main island of Bawah. Personally, I would highly recommend doing these hikes through the forested hills as you will be well rewarded with a good cardiovascular work out, as well as breathtaking panoramic views of the entire resort, spotless beaches, beautiful lagoons, thriving coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and the surrounding islands.
From the higher vantage points at the peak of the hilltops, you will encounter complete and utter silence. Not a single audible sound. You will then realize that the chief reason for coming to Bawah is really to savour the complete seclusion and isolation it offers. To make the trip over to Bawah Reserve is to be deliberately far removed from the hustle and bustle of urban living, and have the rare opportunity to stargaze on clear night skies.
Bawah took an entire construction team a total of six years to engineer and build by hand using natural materials such as coconut, stone, teak wood, bamboo, etc. No heavy machinery was used so as not to damage the natural landscape and surrounding coral reefs. The resort management is fully committed to environmental and oceanic conservation. The owners are so serious about protecting the environment from the impact of operating the resort that they created the “Bawah Anambas Foundation,” with the chief aim of integrating and educating the local communities and neighboring fishing villages, so as to provide them with the knowledge and resources to protect and preserve the surrounding waters and environment.
Bawah Anambas Foundation development advisor Jerry Winata spearheads and oversees the resort’s eco-conservation and waste management initiatives with his dedicated team of savvy eco-aficionados who work closely with the Anambas archipelago natives so as to ensure maximum environmental sustainability. All these strategized arrangements make Bawah Reserve a true bonafide destination for even the most demanding and discerning of eco-travelers.
Their all-inclusive flat-fee package includes door-to-door round-trip transfers in luxurious comfort from Singapore (including luxury chauffeur, express immigration clearance, and journey on Bawah’s private seaplane), three daily meals (breakfast, lunch, and à la carte dinner), pampering spa facials and massage treatments, yoga/Pilates classes, water sport activities, and free flowing in-room mini bar that is amply stocked up with soft drinks, juices, homemade cookies, nuts, and snacks. There are no hidden costs to deal with when you check out. The only two things that you would have to pay for are the optional scuba diving sessions, as well as for any alcoholic beverage consumption. The cost per night based on two people sharing accommodations range from $1,780 (Garden Suite), $1,980 (Beach Suite), $2,280 (Deluxe Beach Suite), and $2,400 for an Overwater Bungalow
Not surprisingly, I am already planning my return trip and cannot wait to go back to Bawah. It is the perfect combination of seclusion, natural beauty, and hospitality, just four hours from Singapore. www.bawahreserve.com