Resort Stay, Reviews, Riau Islands, Singapore Weekends

Nikoi Island: An Idyllic Private Island Resort Near Singapore

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A few months ago, I was researching for a quick getaway from Singapore. I have a young child and we are currently expecting our second one, so I wanted to visit a destination that isn’t too far from home.

I have heard a lot about Nikoi Island through friends and online forums. Many people gushed about how perfect it is for families with young kids, and being a parent of one such kid I understood the importance of kids’ activities during our holidays.

So, I decided to check out Nikoi for myself! Here is how my stay went:

Nikoi Island South Beach by the Jetty
Nikoi’s South Beach by the Jetty

About Nikoi Island

Nikoi Island is a small island located in the east of Bintan Island. The perimeter of the island can be circled on foot in less than 20 minutes.

Nikoi Island
The path around the island

Nikoi Island was built by a group of friends in 2004, who leased the island and committed to building an island getaway close to Singapore that is not just eco-friendly, but gives back to the local community as well. The Nikoi Island, as we know it now, opened to the public in 2007.

In 2022, the waters around Nikoi Island and the east coast of Bintan received Marine Protected Area status.

When is the best time to visit Nikoi Island?

Nikoi Island is open all year round, but with its location being in the tropics near the equator and prone to rain storms, there are better times to go to the island.

For good weather, you’d want to avoid the Monsoon season to minimize the chance of rain. March to June and September to November typically provide the best weather and water visibility.

We went in mid-March and I can confirm the weather was terrific. There was a rain storm one of the nights, but never any rain during the day.

Nikoi Island
Beach from the defunct northern jetty

The island also goes through a topography shift throughout the year. In some parts of the year, the beach shifts to the western end of the island. From July to January, there is a large sand spit that forms in front of the main dining area, which would be a lot of fun for children and adults. In other months, the sandy beach would shift to the south side of the island, near the jetty.

The island is surrounded by shallow water, so the tide also plays a large part in what you can do on the island. Depending on the time of the month, you might experience low tide in the morning and high tide in the afternoon.

Nikoi Island is VERY popular with expat families residing in Singapore, so you’ll want to book in advance if you’re planning to go during the Easter and Summer school holidays. Take note, the holidays for International school kids are different than local school kids.

How long should I stay in Nikoi Island?

There is a 2-night stay requirement to book a room on Nikoi Island, so 3D2N is a minimum by default. However, during peak period, the minimimum stay is 3 nights.

I went for a 4D3N stay on weekdays, which I thought would be plenty on a small island. But when it was time to leave, I was very sad! I think I could have done with one more night. I noticed that most guests who arrived with us were staying longer. I think 5D4N is the average stay for most Nikoi visitors.

Booking Nikoi Island

Nikoi Island is very popular. The one-bedroom beach houses are booked months in advance – definitely book ahead of time if you’re eyeing those rooms.

Book Nikoi Island: You can book a stay at Nikoi through their official website. Weekdays (Mon-Fri) is about 20% cheaper than a weekend stay.

On top of the nightly room rate, there is also a transportation fee for a private car from Bandar Bentan Telani to the jetty that will take you to Nikoi. There is also a daily board charge for each person which consists of three meals per day and most of the activities on the island.

For Infants and Toddlers under 4, travel and stay are complimentary.

What to pack for Nikoi Island

Sun Protection – You’ll be spending a lot of time outside by the beach, so bring all the sun protection you need – SPF 50, Aloe Vera (if you’re prone to sunburn), hats, and a couple of sunnies.

Swimsuit – One of the benefits of Nikoi is the abundance of water activities you can do on the island. Bring multiple swimsuits so you can use one while the other one is drying!

Mosquito repellent – Yes, there are mosquitoes on the island, though not very many. I am very prone to mosquito bites (they really love my blood!) but I only got a few bites when we decided to circle the island. So if you’re planning to venture into the foresty part of the island, bring Mosquito repellent!

Nikoi Island
Swing by the Jetty

Passport with at least 6 months validity – When a getaway is this close to Singapore, it might feel like you don’t need your passport… but you still do, because you’ll be crossing over to Indonesia.

Cash for Visa on Arrival – You’ll need to pay S$50 or Rp 500,000 per person for a visa on arrival in Bintan. I’ll elaborate more on this below. Aside from this, you don’t need much cash as everything on the island can be paid via credit card.

Medication – The island stocks first aid and general medication, but if you anticipate special needs, please bring those medications. For example, I always brought with me some Panadol Extra (paracetamol pain killer with caffeine, since the regular one just won’t do for me when I get migraines).

Nikoi Island Sunset
Sunset from the bar

Getting Indonesia Visa on Arrival

Starting November 2022, You will need a visa on arrival to enter Indonesia unless you hold a passport from ASEAN countries. If you qualify for visa on arrival, you can apply for an Indonesian visa on arrival online.

➡️ Indonesia visa: Find out how to get e-VOA here

However, in the case of visiting Nikoi, I found that it was not necessary to apply for the visa ahead of time. This is because upon arrival in Bintan, you’ll be helped to a VIP section which grants your visa on arrival easily.

You can pay Rp 500,000 if you have Indonesian Rupiah, or you can pay in Singapore dollars for S$50. Paying in Rupiah is slightly cheaper according to the exchange rate at the time of writing.

Getting to Nikoi Island from Singapore

From Singapore, the easiest way to get to Nikoi Island is from Tanah Merah Ferry Interchange (TMFT) to Bandar Bintan Telani (BBT) in Bintan. I recommend using Bintan Resort Ferry as your ferry operator.

Book ferry ticket online: You can book your ferry tickets online here via Klook: Bintan Resort Ferry departs to/from TMFT to BBT.

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Checking in for BRF at TMFT – go to their counter on the left!

Don’t bother getting the Emerald Class ferry. Upon arrival at BBT, all Nikoi Island guests can use the VIP room, where they’ll help you with the immigration process and visa. This is the same treatment as the Emerald class guests!

Bandar Bintan Telani VIP section
Entrance to the VIP Section
Bandar Bintan Telani VIP section
The VIP Waiting Room

After your immigration procedure has been completed, you’ll be ushered into a private car to the jetty to get on the small boat that takes you to Nikoi Island. The car ride took about an hour, and the small boat took about 20 minutes.

Private car from Bandar Bintan Telani
Private car from Bandar Bintan Telani

If you’re prone to seasickness, beware. It could get pretty rough on the sea even when the weather seems good. My son got sick both on the ferry and the small boat on the way to the island. However, he was fine on the way back to Singapore when the sea was much calmer. Try to sit on the back of the boat where it’s less bumpy and you can get access to fresh air.

Nikoi Island Boat
The small boat that took us to Nikoi

The resort will send a car to pick you up, but you need to book the ferry within certain times, otherwise you’ll need to pay 50% surcharge for the transport to Nikoi island. Check their website for the timing, it changes depending on the time of the year.

I booked the 11:10 AM ferry to go to Bintan and arrived at the island by 1:30 PM local time, just in time for lunch. On the way back to Singapore, we took the 2:35 PM ferry which required us to leave Nikoi by 12:10 AM. We got back to Singapore around 4:30 PM.

Overall, I was really impressed by how smooth the entire process was, thanks to the thoughtfulness of the staff of Nikoi Island.

Checking in to Nikoi Island

As soon as we arrived on the island, we were served our welcome drink and a brief explanation of how things work on the island. We were introduced to the Nikoi Island Guide, where we can check the island map, today’s menu, tide timing, and the scheduled activities for the Kids’ club.

Nikoi Island Welcome Drink
Our welcome drink

Any extra charges incurred during the stay (drinks, activities, and spa treatment) will be billed to the room. You can settle the bill at the end of your stay.

There are no phones in the beach houses. Instead of calling the front desk for help, we can WhatsApp the front desk for anything we need. There is wifi coverage throughout the island.

Room Review at Nikoi Island

There are several types of rooms in Nikoi:

  • One-bedroom beach house
  • One-bedroom beach house with bunk room
  • Two-bedroom beach house with bunkroom
  • Two-bedroom beach house (2x king beds)
  • Three-bedroom beach house
  • Pool villa 2-bedroom

I will be reviewing two types of rooms:

1. One Bedroom Beach House with Bunk Room

We stayed in the One-bedroom beach house with bunk room (Room 2, to be specific). This room consisted of a 1 bedroom on the upper floor with two day beds, lounge chairs, a working table, and an ensuite bathroom.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
View of the master bedroom as soon as you get up the stairs

There’s a ceiling fan above the bed to keep you cool while you’re sleeping. There is also a USB charging point, switch for the ceiling lights and two reading lamps.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
The master bedroom
One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Lounge chair which I often used in the morning
One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
One of the two daybeds in the upstairs bedroom

The bathroom is quite spacious, with a rain shower and plenty of hooks and rack space to dry your clothes.

On the lower floor, there is one small bedroom with bunk beds, intended for older kids. Each bed has its own fan and charging point.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Bunk room on the lower floor

The living room comes with a swing bed and an outdoor shower so that you can have a quick rinse to get all that sand off before coming into your room.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Living Room
One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Swing bed – I spent lots of time lounging here

If you’re traveling with younger kids who still prefer to sleep close to you, there are two day beds on the upper floor that can be converted into beds, and a standing fan will be provided next to the converted beds. If you’re traveling with an infant, they’ll also provide a baby cot with mosquito net for you. So theoritically, you could fit 6-7 people in the beach house!

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Day bed converted to a bed with mosquito net

The rooms are open-concept. There is no AC in any of the rooms, but there is a sufficient breeze from the ceiling fans. I never had issue with the lack of AC as there are sufficient breeze from the ocean as well as the fan.

All the beds come with insect nets. Thanks to this we never had issues with mosquitoes at night.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
The side of the beach house that faces the beach

All the beach houses have direct access to the beach. Even though during our stay the beach mostly were in the south side of the island while our room is located in the north, we still have a small strip of beach in front of our room. We were the only people on the beach most of the time!

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
The small pathway that leads straight to the beach
One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
We always had the beach to ourselves!
One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
When the tide is high, you can have a quick dip

Another amenities they have on the lower floor is a small sink and an ice box, should you require some refrigeration. There are no fridge in the room otherwise.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Small sink and ice box

Every night, the staff will do a turndown service where they let the mosquito nets down and turn on the ambiance lights for you. I thought this was a nice touch, since I don’t have to think about doing it myself before the mosquitoes come out at night. They’ll also light a mosquito coil under your bed to ensure you won’t be bothered.

Turndown service at the beach house
Turndown service at the beach house

2. Pool Villas

Nikoi also has pool villas which were newly opened in 2022. I asked for a room tour since I was curious to see how they looked like in comparison to the one bedroom beach house.

Pool Villa at Nikoi Island
Pool Villa at Nikoi Island

The layout for the most part is similar to our beach house, except for the obvious addition of a private pool at the front of the villa. Instead of bunk beds, the lower floor room has a proper king-sized bed and its own ensuite bathroom.

Pool Villa at Nikoi Island
The bedroom at the pool villa
Pool Villa at Nikoi Island
Living Room at Pool Villa

The bathroom fittings seems to be more premium compared to our beach house, with a floating toilet and his and hers sink.

Pool Villa at Nikoi Island
Bathroom at the pool villa

There are only three pool villas in Nikoi and they’re all located on the east end of the island, furthest away from the jetty and the main dining area. But you would be next to the pool, spa, and Restaurant Biru. It doesn’t take very long to reach the jetty, only about 10 minutes walk.

Service and Amenities at Nikoi Island

Staff and Service – The staff at Nikoi are just lovely and their service is impeccable from start to finish. They’re so friendly, courteous and very helpful. They’ll remember your name, which room you’re staying and any preferences you have. I don’t like prawn, and they made sure to offer alternatives for me on the days when prawn were on the menu.

Wi-fi Coverage – I was not expecting this, but internet coverage was decent throughout the island. Even when I was walking to the pool (which requires me to walk through a short path with nothing around), I was still able to get a connection. My husband did a video work call from our beach house, although he said the connection gets a little spotty towards the end so I wouldn’t rely on it for an important phone call. I was able to get 4G connection via Indosat as a fallback when Wi-fi was spotty.

Swimming Pool – The pool is located at the eastern end of the island, about a 10-minute walk from the main dining area. There is a small kids pool and a larger adult pool. They use salt water.

Spa – You can book a massage or other treatment during your time here. But act fast, they get booked up quickly. I’ll elaborate more on the spa section below.

Kids’ Club – All parents will know that the Kids’ Club at resorts are such a godsend when you have kids between 4 to 10 years of age. The kids’ club at Nikoi was amazing. I’ll elaborate more on this below!

Nikoi Island Kids Club
Taking the kids to the swimming pool

Laundry – If you need anything washed, the staff can do it for you free of charge. However, keep in mind the laundry will be sent to Bintan and then back to Nikoi when done, so there is a 1 – 2 days turnaround. I would still try to bring enough clothes for the stay and only wash for emergencies. If you’d like to wash anything by hand, you can just ask for detergent.

Food Options at Nikoi Island

There are only two restaurant options on the island: Meals are served in the Main Dining Room on the west of the island near the jetty or at Restaurant Biru on the eastern end of the island.

The Main Dining Room serves Indonesian-inspired cuisines, while Restaurant Biru serves Mediterranean fares. Restaurant Biru requires a reservation at least one day in advance. You can ask to check the menu for both restaurants with the waiters, and decide where you want to have you next day meal.

In both restaurants, lunch is typically served family-style where you share the mains with your group, while dinner is served three-course (Appetizer, Main, Dessert).

Every day at breakfast time, you can check the menu to see what will be served at lunch and dinner in the main dining room. Or, you can check the menu on their website!

Menu board at Nikoi Island
Example of the Menu Board

In terms of timing, meals are served as follows:

  • Breakfast: 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM (Last order 9:30 AM)
  • Lunch: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
  • Dinner: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

1. Main Dining Room

The main dining room is the default choice for all your meals. It’s the closest to other amenities, as well as most of the beach houses. There are two dining halls – one for families with kids, and one for adults. There are long tables to accommodate large groups as well.

The entire floor are filled with fine white sand, so you can rock up to all your meals barefoot! That’s what my son did during his entire stay – he ditched his footwear for all four days.

Nikoi Island Main Dining Room

For breakfast, there is an option of Indonesian or Western breakfast. The Indonesian menu changes everyday (we’ve had fried rice and beef noodle soup), but the western breakfast stays the same – it’s basically an english fry up where you can choose the style of eggs you want.

Additionally, they’ll serve a fruit platter, some sweets, and four choices of cereal. You really won’t be hungry on this island!

For lunch, the meals are served family style, where all the dishes are intended to be shared among the group.

Dinner is served as a three-course meal with appetizer, main, and dessert.

2. Restaurant Biru

Restaurant Biru means “Blue” in Indonesian. As I mentioned before, Restaurant Biru serves Mediterranean fare, and sometimes pizzas as well as the kitchen is equipped with a pizza oven. The restaurant is located right next to the swimming pool, making it a perfect choice for meals after a swimming session.

Restaurant Biru at Nikoi Island
Restaurant Biru

I am Indonesian and will usually favor Indonesian food over anything else, but the dishes at Restaurant Biru just blew my mind. I do recommend having at least one lunch and one dinner at Restaurant Biru.

Here are examples of some of the amazing meals I had:

We were very impressed with lunch. Thankfully we had the foresight to book dinner at Restaurant Biru as well. I thought lunch was already amazing, but dinner was even better! I think I would be paying $100+ for these in Singapore.

We also had Grilled Prawns as one of the mains, but I did not take photos of it since I dislike prawns. Aside from the citrus salad pictured above, there were 2 other vegetable dishes.

3. Kids Meal

What also impressed me was the kids’ menu. They don’t just serve chicken nuggets and fries or pizza all day, they ensure the kids’ menu is just as diverse as the regular menu.

Here are some examples of the kids’ meals during our stay:

Things to do at Nikoi Island

As you can see from the map, Nikoi Island isn’t a big island. What can you do to keep yourself occupied for 4 days? Turns out, there are a lot.

1. Water Activities at the Boat House

There are plenty of gears you can borrow for water activities at the boat house. Most of them are complimentary, but there are paid activities as well. For example, Snorkeling, beginner windsurfing, and fishing are complimentary.

For a list of the paid activities, please refer to their menu board:

Nikoi Island Water Activities
All the activities you can do on Nikoi!

I went snorkeling during our stay. The area around the main jetty is the best place for snorkeling, but visibility does vary depending on the sea condition. There are plenty of fish and colorful corals around the jetty.

2. Kids’ Club Activities

Every day, they have activities planned from 9:00 AM, which includes fun things like crafts, ziplining, fishing, treasure hunt, bonfire, to movie night at 7:30 PM.

Nikoi Island Kids Club
Schedule of the day

My 4-year-old was mostly happy to be left at the Kids club most of the day and does not require my presence at all, which is huge for him. He’s usually attached to me by the hip.

Nikoi Island Kids Club
Woodworking at the Kids Club
Nikoi Island Kids Club
Woodworking at the Kids Club
Nikoi Island Kids Club
Movie Night

3. Bush walking around the island

If you follow the path to the rows of beach houses on the south side of the island and continue past all the beach houses, you’ll come across a short trail that you can follow to the eastern end of the island. It’s not a difficult walk, but bring mosquito repellent!

Nikoi Island Bush Walk
Bush walking around the southwestern end of the island

It’s possible to make a full circle of the island to the pool villas, but you have to do it when the tide is low. Otherwise, parts of the trail are not passable.

4. Get a massage at the Spa Center

Act fast, they do get booked up quickly. When I wanted to make a last-minute booking, there was only one spot available for the entire day even though the island was only at half capacity.

I did a foot massage while my husband did a Javanese body massage (S$60 for 50 minutes). I think the body massage might be better – I was not particularly impressed by the foot massage, but my husband was happy with his body massage.

Nikoi Island Spa
The spa beds at the spa center
Nikoi Island Spa
Getting my feet soaked in flower water before my treatment

5. Fishing at the Jetty

From the boat house, you can borrow a simple bamboo fishing stick and do some fishing from the jetty. The area around the jetty is very abundant with corals and many small fishes. However, catch and release is recommended here.

Nikoi Island Kids Club
Fishing by the Jetty

6. Drinks at Sunset Bar

Sunset Bar is aptly named so because it is the best spot to view the sunset on the island. You’ll get a full unblocked view of the sun as it sets for the day, and if you’re lucky, you might get a vibrant orange sky.

Nikoi Island Sunset
Sunset from the bar

The bar offers all kinds of drinks from alcoholic – beer, wine, cocktails (S$14 – 18), to non-alcoholic – mocktails, soft drinks, juices (S$6 – 7) for those who prefer to not consume alcohol like yours truly. There is also a complimentary snack bar consisting of Indonesian chips like kerupuk (Rice crackers) and emping (Melinjo chips), as well as cookies.

Nikoi Island Sunset Bar
Nikoi Island Sunset Bar
Nikoi Island Sunset Bar
West-facing seating at the bar, perfect for sunset

Becareful of those rice crackers, they’re truly addictive. I must have eaten my body weight of them during my stay!

Nikoi Island Sunset Bar
Drink of the day – Mango Daquiri with addictive kerupuk

7. Swimming at the Pool

The pool is located at the eastern end of the island, about 10-minute walk from the main dining area. There is a small kids pool and adult pool, and they use salt water.

There is a toilet that also serves as a changing room, and an open-air rain shower on the stairs that takes you down to the beach.

Nikoi Island Swimming Pool
Adult swimming pool
Nikoi Island Swimming Pool
Plenty of pool lounger around the pool!

There are plenty of pool lounger around the swimming pool. I never had to fight for it, but the ones facing the beach were very popular. They were almost always occupied, especially the ones directly below the tree.

Nikoi Island East Beach
Some of the lounger faces the beach

Similar to the Sunset bar, you can have some complimentary snacks by the poolside and order any drinks you want from the bar.

Nikoi Island Swimming Pool
Pina Colada – Of course, you can order cocktails by the pool as well

8. Daily Bonfire

Every day after dinner at 7:15 PM, there is a bonfire by the beach where you can roast marshmallows. The bonfire is located on the western side of the island, next to the main dining area.

Nikoi Island Kids Club
Daily Bonfire and Marshmallow Roasting

Checking out of Nikoi Island

Checking out was seamless. The night before I was due to check out, I received a WhatsApp letting me know what time I needed to be at the jetty and when I needed to have my bags packed. I just had to settle all the extra charge incurred during the stay, which was payable using a credit card.

There is a Tipping Form at the Sunset Bar that you can fill in and turn in when you settle your bills at the end of your stay. The tip will be distributed among staff.

Of course, tipping is completely optional. If you want to, I recommend leaving Rp 100,000 per night per guest. You can leave a tip via credit card while settling the bills, which makes things so much easier since I did not bring that much cash with me.

You can also order takeaway meals in case you’re leaving during lunch time. There isn’t much time to eat once you’ve reached the ferry. Sandwiches range from S$10-12, while kids sandwiches are S$2, and they’ll pack it for you in a takeaway container.

Cost Breakdown for a weekend at Nikoi Island

As I’ve mentioned before, the cost of staying at Nikoi consists of room rates, board rates, and transportation fees. Stays on weekdays are 20% cheaper than on weekends. Room rates also depend on whether it’s low or high season.

Here is an example of a 4D3N stay for a family of 3 (2 adults 1 child) on a weekday at the one-bedroom beach house:

Example cost for a stay in Nikoi

Take note the above cost does not include extras like cocktail, beer, or juices that isn’t included in Board rate. It also does not include tip should you decide to leave some gratuity for the staff, or any treatments at the spa.

In Conclusion

Nikoi Island is definitely my favorite short trips from Singapore. I can see why there is so much hype around Nikoi Island and why they’re booked up months in advance. It is truly the definition of an easy vacation, especially for families.

The service at Nikoi was impeccable – from getting off the ferry at Bintan all the way to going to the island, everything has been thought of. And once you’re on the island, you really don’t need to worry about anything!

Nikoi Island
Plenty of space to lounge around in Nikoi Island

The island is not big, but they make good use of the space they have. They were at about half capacity when we were there, but we did not bump into other guests too often except during meal times.

Another thing I loved about my stay in Nikoi was how independent my son could be. He was comfortable being left on his own at the kids club, despite usually attached to me by the hip. Any parents with a small child can tell you that this is super important for the parents to be able to enjoy their vacation!

Nikoi Island
Perfectly safe to walk around barefoot

I’ve just left the island, but I’m already plotting my way back. It’s no wonder many guests we met during our stay were repeat visitors of this island. It was truly the magical idyllic vacation that we desperately needed.

And that was my experience at Nikoi! As usual, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. I love hearing from you.

Until next time! 🌊

Note: I was a guest of Nikoi Island for the purposes of writing this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are honest and remain my own.

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Filed under: Resort Stay, Reviews, Riau Islands, Singapore Weekends

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

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