Yes, Nikoi Island is an expensive place, which is almost fully booked all through the year and certainly takes longer to get to than the other resorts at Bintan. Now that we have got the drawbacks of the place out of the way, lets move to the positive side, which is everything else!
We couldn't believe our luck when we suddenly found a vacant villa for a weekend at Nikoi and we had completed the booking 10 minutes later. The resort website provides you all the information about the place correctly, and its highly recommended to read this before going to Nikoi, so that you have no surprises whatsoever. The resort collects all information about your visit and stay at Nikoi (ferry timings, dietary requirements, additional bookings like massages, etc.) as soon as you confirm the booking. Once you have provided them that, you just have to arrive at Bintan, after which your perfect holiday is pretty much on auto-pilot mode.
Right from reaching Bintan, you are the recipient of the warmth and hospitality that is provided by Nikoi Island. They receive you and take care of your visa formalities while you wait at the lounge. Once that is done, they take you to the waiting transport that takes you all the way to their ferry terminal, which is an hour away by road. The travel is pretty smooth and they provide you with water to drink during the ride. We reached Bintan by the 5pm ferry, so it was a bit late by the time we got to the ferry terminal. The speed boat ride to Nikoi was a bit rough for us due to the strong waves and the direction of the boat being opposite to that of the waves. It was not too long though (15 to 20 minutes), but maybe the boats could have been better designed to provide the passengers with more bars/handles to hold on to.
We reached Nikoi by about 6.30pm and were immediately showed in to our villa after a quick check-in. The villa was perfectly designed facing the sea, made almost entirely of wood. The bed had nets all around which kept away the insects and we could close a glass door if we wanted to prevent anything from flying inside, but it sort of defeated the purpose of staying close to nature. You don't feel very private in the villa due to its open design, but we really didn't hear or see the other guests while we were inside. The bathroom, the storage space, the accessories provided in the room were all very well thought out (including the torch and the power converter) and we really didn't miss anything. The swing bed that we had in the ground level was a great addition to the villa's furniture and decor.
The food at the resort was very good - we are vegetarians (which we had informed the resort prior to arrival), but they had ensured that they had made at least a couple of vegetarian dishes for each meal. The staff would very politely give us a few options at the earlier meal on what we would want for the next one, and our requests were met very well. Though the options were limited, the taste certainly made up for it.
The beach is very pretty and there is a small part of the beach, that you can do snorkeling on. The currents were a bit strong when we were there, but it was still possible to have a good time. The resort provided us with all the required gear and equipment like life jackets, snorkeling gear, kayaks, etc. and made sure that we had all that we wanted. They did offer to organize diving or snorkeling trips to the certified divers, which we weren't, and hence had to pass on. The pool at one end of the island was another great place to spend a quiet morning or evening (the view is much better in the early morning during the high tide) with a drink or two. All the dining areas and bars had enough seats facing the sea where we could always relax with a drink and we were always served by polite staff.
We had also asked for massages, which were done just outside our villa facing the sea - the therapists were very good and we thought that the prices were much better than Singapore rates. My wife enjoyed her head massage so much that she asked for another one the next day.
Most of the guests we saw at Nikoi were with kids, who were all having a great time by the beach - the island had quite a few staff taking care of the kids (Pak Yogi being the most popular!) and they were all very friendly. While it is most certainly a great family getaway, we as a couple found it equally enjoyable.
Nikoi had been on our holiday plans for a year now and we got lucky to make it there finally. Very few times do you find a place that lives up to the hype, especially when it is as much as in the case of Nikoi, but it really did for us and we really didn't want anything else from the place. We will certainly go back, but I guess we need to get lucky again!
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