Bawah Reserve is a private island retreat that offers its guests a luxury escape in Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago. Made up of 6 Islands, 3 Lagoons and 13 Beaches, Bawah is a lush tropical paradise that you will never want to leave! From the moment you start your journey to Bawah, to the second you step foot onto the jetty, you know you are in for a magical and unique stay. Just make sure to book your visit for more than a few days as you will never want to leave. Now let me tell you why Bawah Reserve should be on your bucketlist!
ABOUT BAWAH RESERVE
Bawah Reserve opened it’s doors to guests in late 2017 and already it has been featured in Conde Nast Traveller and several other luxury publications. The reserve is made up of six islands with one main island home to overwater bunglalows, beach bungalows and garden suites as well as a spa, restaurants and bars.
Bawah is a luxury private island resort owned by Tim Hartnell and it is his vision that has allowed this eco friendly luxury resort to be created with great respect for the natural environment that surrounds it. Bawah can be described as a luxury resort for those who want to have everything catered for them, but with this being done in a relaxed and natural way. It’s for the eco conscious traveller who still wants to enjoy luxury amenities in a responsible way.
GETTING TO BAWAH RESERVE
The luxury service begins before you even arrive at Bawah. The journey to the islands is an adventure in itself and part of the whole Bawah experience. First you will be picked up at your hotel in Singapore around 7am by a private car. The driver will take you to the ferry terminal where you will be met by a representative of Bawah who will have your tickets ready and will escort you through to the ferry. You will then board a short ferry ride of around 40 minutes to Batam where you will be picking up the seaplane. Depending on the weather the ferry is a smooth short ride, so you are unlikely to need any motion sickness tablets – but perhaps good to bring them along just in case.
Once you arrive in Batam you will be greeted by another Bawah representative who will then take you on the second leg of the journey. First they will assist you with entry at immigration (as you will be entering Indonesia here) and then they will accompany you on a short ride to the airport.
At the airport your luggage (and you) will be weighed and it’s then on to the sea plane! This is the best and most exciting part of the journey. Bawah has it’s own private seaplane that leaves from Batam once a day and takes you directly to Bawah Reserve. The plane seats 12 guests and two pilots and flies at around 5,000 feet – giving you an amazing view as you leave Batam, throughout the 1.5 hr flight duration and of course when you arrive at Bawah Reserve. Your pilot will likely give you a fly by so that you can see and take photos of the islands from above. I recommend sitting on the left side of the plane for the best view – but double check with the pilot the route they will take in.
ECO AWARENESS & CONSERVATION
Staying at eco-friendly sustainable resorts has become increasingly important to me and when I plan my trips this is something I take into consideration when selecting a hotel. I think its important to recognise that not all resorts are able to be fully sustainable and if a hotel is even making some small steps in the right direction that is great. But Bawah is doing more than that! As an independently owned reserve they are able to make decisions and implement eco-friendly practices far easier than a large chain resort can.
I was delighted to discover that Bawah takes sustainability seriously! In Bawah Reserve all of the waste is recycled; all paper is mulched; food waste is composted, and crushed glass is used in the water filtering process. The only land vehicles on the island are electric buggies and they even have two solar powered boats! Water at the resort is heated by solar energy; waste water is treated for the permaculturalist to use on the organic fruit and vegetable gardens; and pesticides are banned. Due to the official marine conservation status of the Reserve, fishing, anchoring and collection of any marine life is forbidden; and finally so that the island does not suffer tourist trampling, only 35 suites have been built. Which means you get to enjoy this paradise with only a small number of guests.
Whilst all of this is very impressive I was also interested to see smaller touches around the hotel rooms that help to educate guests about responsible travel and the environment. In the bathrooms, instead of fluffy towels you will find Turkish bath towels which use three times less water to wash than a regular towel. There is a note explaining this to guests and it was something I did not previously know myself and I will now be replacing my towels at home with these Turkish towels. In addition, there was a copy of Together We Can Turn Tides by Jeroan Van De Waal, the perfect book to take out onto your private deck to learn some facts about the oceans and environment and how we can make small steps to protect them.
DINING BAWAH RESERVE
Everything at Bawah is fabulous and dining is no exception. As mentioned all your meals are included, so it’s just a matter of deciding where you want to dine each day. Breakfast is served at the main Treetops restaurant, situated up a long flight of steps in the jungle, you will have an incredible view looking out over the ocean to the other islands whilst you enjoy your morning coffee. If you prefer something a little closer to home, you can request for your breakfast to be served on your deck in the morning.
Next up, lunch. You can either dine at Treetops or at the beach restaurant The Boat House which is the perfect relaxed sand in your toes dining spot. In the evenings the Boat House is also an option for dinner and some evenings a seafood and meat barbecue is on offer – and I definitely recommend trying that!
For the evening you can head up towards the Treetops restaurant and go a little further to the Jules Verne Bar for a sunset cocktail before dinner. The creative cocktail concoctions are delicious, but I found the simple favourite of a Mojito was the winner here. Make sure to enjoy the ambiance of the bar and also take in the design details around you, you will notice in this bar an octopus sculpture above you and when you make your way down to Treetops the light fixtures above the main dining table represent jelly fish. (and if you ask nicely you may be treated to a colourful light show!)
After a couple of cocktails pick between Treetops, the Boat House for you evening meal or if you want a romantic secluded dinner for two book dinner at The Lookout. The staff will set up your dinner with candles and lanterns hanging from the trees around you as you enjoy a private evening with your loved one!
THE BEACHES, ACTIVITIES & DIVING
As I mentioned, Bawah is made up of six islands, three lagoons and thirteen beaches. As soon you arrive at Bawah you will walk along the jetty and see bright blue corals either side in the water and you will know the first order of business is to get your snorkel on and start discovering the underwater world! Luckily Bawah caters for this and everyday a blackboard is set up at the Grouper bar with times for snorkelling and other activities. There are typically two snorkel tours per day at 10am and 3pm, so try and catch them both so you can see more of the Bawah Reserve. You can expect to see stunning and brightly colour corals, plenty of fish, turtles, occasional eagle rays and black tip reef sharks. And if you want to discover even more you can book a dive here, with crystal clear waters and amazing wildlife I would highly recommend it!
If you prefer to be above the water then there are sailing trips around the islands, or the sunset cruise where you can learn all about Bawah Reserve and how it came to be what it is today. During the day you can access a glass bottomed kayak, regular kayaks and wooden paddle boards from beside the Boat House. Paddle boarding above the corals was my favourite activity in Bawah and the perfect way to see the underwater world from above.
In the evening, Bawah also offers a selection of fun activities which change throughout the week. During our stay an outdoor cinema screen was hung above the infinity pool for movie night!
YOGA & THE SPA
Unlimited spa treatments? Yes please! Well there is a slight limit, one treatment per guest per day. But with so much to do in Bawah even fitting in a one hour treatment can be challenging. Choose from a selection of divine massages, salt scrubs and facials. And if you want some more activity yoga sessions are also available in the spa area. Whichever you choose you will leave feeling relaxed and re-energised for the day or evening ahead.
THE BAWAH EXPERIENCE
Overall Bawah Reserve offers its guests a luxury experience, but in what feels like a far more personal and natural environment than a typical luxury chain resort. I loved that every part of the experience at Bawah felt indulgent and once in a lifetime, but at the same time it felt homely and friendly. All the guests interacted with one another and the staff were incredibly warm and welcoming. The small personal touches like a wooden sign painted with your names hanging outside your room made Bawah a special place.
AN ALL INCLUSIVE PACKAGE
From the moment you arrive in Bawah Reserve everything is taken care of for you and everything is included in nightly price. The only exclusions are alcohol (which is very reasonably priced with cocktails around US $8) and diving. Everything else is included, all meals, activities including snorkeling tours, sunset cruises, sailing trips, a picnic on one of the 6 islands deserted beaches, daily yoga, a daily spa treatment of your choice, use of paddle boards and kayaks.
WOULD I GO BACK?
ABSOLUTELY! I can honestly say that Bawah Reserve was one of (if not the most) amazing place I have ever travelled to in my life. For me, Bawah ticked every box and I would jump at the chance to go back. 2 nights simply wasn’t enough time to relax, enjoy, see all the islands so I would need at least a week here and recommend you do the same!
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Bawah Reserve. If you have any questions about Bawah or Indonesia please leave these in the comments below!
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