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“Beautiful but infested with mosquitos and journey is long and sick making” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Nikoi Island

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Nikoi Island
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Private Island, Riau Islands Province, Indonesia   |  
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Ranked #2 of 30 Hotels in Bintan Island
Cambridge, UK
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Beautiful but infested with mosquitos and journey is long and sick making”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2009

We've just returned from a 3 night stay at Nikoi. While there is lots to love there is also plenty to avoid. We stayed in number 7 is on the south side of the island next to a jetty that is currently being constructed and a large patch of vegetation.

What is to avoid?
I've got about 50-100 mosquito bites (you name it, I've been bitten there), my kids less but their bites are bigger and more intimidating looking. This is despite using mosquito net and two sets of coils when sleeping (and yes we did use them correctly - but the coils go out during the night and the flies can go through the gaps in the floor boards). We must have killed more than a hundred of them with our bare hands in the last few days.
Hut 7 is right next to various night staff hang outs which meant having to beg a bunch of men sitting smoking in the dark 2 to 3 meters away to be quiet after midnight, only to be woken at 6am to the clatter of motor starting up and subsequently by the sounds of hammers and construction..
The health and safety is an afterthought - we left on an overloaded boat with small kids, transfered to a bit of a bigger boat, in a rocking sea, for the transfer - only when we were 5 minutes on the big boat did the life jackets come out and then for kids only.
Despite arming ourselves with motion sickness drugs 2 of the party of 7 were sick during the 5-6 hour journey from central Singapore (door to door).
The fishermen and other boats gather in their 5-6 boats close in to the south side of the building until very late at night. This means that unless you don't want to flash at them you have to be careful with your modesty as you move around your house. It also begs the question where these 30-50 men go to the lavatory... something you don't want to think about when snorkeling.
The management are unempowered and although nice aren't really in a position to fix things. (although one, after a few visits to beg for a non-blighted hut, did arrange a "fogging" which reduced the mosquitos for about 12 hours).
We didn't actually experience any hot water in all the time we were there, neither did our friends in a nearby hut.

What is to love?
The huts are architectural marvels.
The staff are friendly and they care. I saw two dash out to pick up a child who'd fallen over in the most natural caring way.
The snorkeling and sailing are great.
The swimming pool is probably the nicest situated in the world.
They mean it about the wildlife, there are eages, 2m lizards, bats and the waters teem with fish.
The views and geology would be worth it alone for a lot of people.
The ambience at night is exceptional.
The food, despite the lack of choice, is very nice.
The eating experience generally is something very special.

If we ever go back it would only be for one of the huts 1-6 (where I understand that most of the problems here aren't). Despite having a nice break I don't think that running the risks of dengue/malaria etc are worth it.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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509 reviews from our community

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  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Sydney, Australia
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 25, 2009

We went to Nikoi Island as the first stop of our honeymoon based purely on what we found on tripadvisor. Total stay 4 nights.

It is a 1 hour ferry from Singapore, then 40 minute car, then 40 minute boat ride. All no real hassle. Arriving on the island we were shown to bungalow 15, the most eastern of the south side bungalows (these are new). The bungalows are tremendous being very large and having plenty of places to just lie around. The bathrooms are basic and the bed very nice with a mosquito net. Bungalow 15 was not 100% complete, missing some guest information and blinds.

Being a desert island all meals are provided for you unfortunately at an unknown cost when we arrived. We later found out it was SGD80++ (+for GST, +for service charge totalling +20%). The food is fine (Indonesian style cooking) but quite repetitive, you can only eat so many permutations of cauliflower, broccoli and squid. I think some of the other guests we a but tired of this as well. Alcoholic drinks moderate/expensive: cocktails SGD10.

We were asked to move bungalows from 15 to 12 after 2 nights because of some mix up. We instead requested a western side bungalow because we found the south side very hot during the daytime. Mr Marjan (the manager) said this was not possible even though I found him a solution on his spreadsheet. And this was the other small problem; the staff have very limited English and anything outside their quite narrow limits is not possible.

There are plenty of complimentary water activities: snorkelling, sea canoe, kayak, sailing but you are limited to the southern side of the island due to the fierce pretty much constant northerly winds. Having been to the Great Barrier Reef, I would not bother too hard with the snorkelling because the South China Sea is quite dirty.

I would also recommend bringing any and all potential medication etc you may need. The "medical kit" they have at the front desk is woeful: lots of over the counter reflux stuff, a couple of paracetamol tablets, some quinine and a small bottle of anginine. I am planning to seek clarification with management if there is a more substantial medical cart because it is quite dangerous and unacceptable. If you are having a heart attack 1 hour to the nearest hospital is not good enough.

All these things aside, we had a great time at Nikoi because I do not remember the last time I just lay around and did absolutely nothing. It simplifies things and that is great. It is perfect for recovering and being lazy.

The pool is a magnificent place to hang around. If you like the beach then by all means, but it is equatorial and fiercely hot from about 10am to 4pm.

Go on a weekday if you can. When we were leaving on Saturday, the night before a large group of loud people in their mid-late 30s had arrived from Singapore - very loud. This is probably going to become a problem because they have more than doubled their size from 6 to 15 bungalows. It is probably too many when at full occupancy.

Overall it is a great place. I would not stay for more than 2 nights and insist on the western bungalows when booking as the south side is just too hot. Bring all the small things you may need and you will have a great time!

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, December 27, 2009
Many thanks for all of the reviewers who have written reviews on Nikoi in 2009. We are greatly encouraged by the response we have had and to having retained the number one position on Tripadvisor for Bintan throughout 2009.

I would like to take the opportunity to make a few comments on this particular review.

A detailed description of the format for meals and the cost is provided on our website in addition to which all guests are sent an information sheet which also explains this. The menu consists of a mixture of local foods and barbequed seafood and beef. There is plenty of variation and we will accept requests for alternative meals.

All of the rooms have been completed. There are no blinds or curtains in any of the houses but they are designed in such a way that they are still very private.

The mix-up with room allocations is unfortunate and something that rarely occurs and for which we are very apologetic.

We have two first aid kits one of which is a more comprehensive kit. We do not have a resident doctor but many of our staff have done first aid courses. The kit has been reviewed by qualified professionals who have commented on how extensive it is.

The South China Sea is not dirty but rather during the monsoon season when this reviewer visited the seas are rougher so water visibility can be limited. This is also explained on our website and means that we advise against snorkeling or diving at this time of the year. The wind direction is seasonal which can mean that one side of the island is protected and so the houses on that side do not benefit from cooling sea breezes but this changes through out the year.
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Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 16, 2009

Luxury doesnt have to be uber-pretentious, it simply has to achieve three main things; uniqueness, seclusion and a knock out beach.

Nikoi achieves all three of these - and once you get there, you'll find the return transfer difficult to board onto.

The service from Bintan Ferry terminal was swift being a Nikoi visitor. I have to state the welcoming party were not amazing - if it weren't for their Nikoi branded t-shirts I would not have known they were our meet and greet at either the ferry terminal or at Kawal to take the 20 minute boat transfer. The sea can be a bit choppy if the weather isn't great, however a minor issue.

Once you arrive at Nikoi, the staff are willing to help you to the ends of their abilities. They are an informal yet hospitable set of staff who seem like they enjoy their jobs on this remote small Island. The villas are well equipped with simple rustic touches and plenty of space with the beach a few metres away. Meals are set at certain times throughout the day, all made with fresh ingredients, seafood and requests are handled well (We requested halal, and all meals were catered for halal). Activities are plentiful, especially water based and children are very well catered for. The overall reason to visit Nikoi is to get away from the city, and the over-subscribed Bintan resorts and really relax by one of the best stretches of beaches I've seen.

I wouldn't say Nikoi is in the same league as an Evason or Aman, and I'm glad it isnt. Nikoi does the important things well, very well - and there isn't much to complain about (unless you really don't like a few bugs) - and is very good value for the experience.

If you have the opportunity to visit Nikoi, make sure you take it - it's true Island Mentality :)

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2009

Went there with my wife during the weekdays so there wasn't much of the crowd that some reviews mentioned. The service there was superb from the moment we got off the speed boat to the time we left, the staff there were very accomodating and helpful. The only issue is some don't speak english very well, so communicating was a bit comedic at times, but they more than make up for that with the hospitality.

There's lots to do exploring the beaches, both in and out of the water. Only note is, if you go treking into the forest, bring loads of insect repellent, unspoiled nature also implies unspoiled mosquito habitats. Still, the main areas of the resort; villas, restaurants and the like are largely bug-free.

Nights were beautiful, starry nights are common even during the monsoon season. And the room is plenty cool and breezy so that the lack of air-conditioning never even comes to mind. Waking up to the sight and sound of the turquoise waters lapping on the white beach is the best (and most romantic) wake up call ever.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
67 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2009

Just back from a second trip to Nikoi. It was, as before, a real treat and thoroughly relaxing. What is fantastic is the location, the great rooms, the cool breezes and the feeling that you have really got away from it all. Being there over a Singapore holiday week-end meant the island was busy but it is extraordinary how it does not feel crowded. It is always possible to find a quiet spot.
Yogi continues to be a key attraction and the kids are much keener to spend time with him that their parents.
The Saturday night beach bonifre is a real treat and just adds to the whole experience.
We were last there 6 months before and the service certainly seemed to be a bit more on the ball. Deliberately you are left in peace unless you ask otherwise but it all just seemed to be running a bit more smoothly. The one aspect that had slipped we felt was the food. Last time the food was tasty but small portions. This time the quantities were larger but the quality not so good. I really wish Nikoi would sort out the food as it would complete the picture. I quite understand not having a la carte but maybe a little bit of choice? Maybe a discussion could be had over breakfast?
The other thing I noticed this time was the SGD to Rupiah exchange rate used by the hotel was quite significantly different to the spot rate. Prices are in SGD, you have to pay in Rupiah and then your bank will charge you in SGD (if you are using a Singapore bank). This time it amounted to over a 5% surchage. I don't think this is a deliberate policy and given the bouncing around of FX rates these days that may explain it. The hotel does say that there are charges on top of everything (++) but something to aware of.
In summary, I look forward to going back soon. There is nowhere in striking distance from Singapore that offers such relaxation and charm and the perfect antidote to stress. Kids absolutely love it. The staff are great.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, December 7, 2009
Many thanks for your review. It is always very pleasing to get repeat visitors. Your comments on our food comes as a surprise as overwhelmingly the feedback has been very favourable. We do take this seriously and are always looking at ways to improve our food and so will review this with our kitchen staff. I would add that we do put up the daily menu on blackboards and guests are welcome to request something if they do not like what is on the menu. The main reason for a fixed menu is to ensure freshness of food and to avoid food waste.

In respect of exchange rates we can assure you that we do not profit from foreign exchange rates. Local banking regulations in Indonesia do not allow us to charge credit cards in SGD. We convert final bills from SGD to Rupiah using the rates we get charged by our local bank. The spread from the spot rate typically works out at around 2%. The Rupiah is a volatile currency so it does move around a lot and it can mean a larger variation by the time it is converted back to your local currency on your credit card statement.
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Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2009

Nikoi is a beautiful and special place. A great spot to relax and rejuvenate. Loved the quietness, seclusion and rustic surroundings.
My husband and i enjoyed the jungle trails (apply lots of insect repellant!!) and walks along the rocky beach at low tide. It was a treat to be able to spot the stork billed kingfisher, collared kingfisher, eagles, and pigeons.
Food was really delicious and sumptious...
The huts at nikoi are very thoughtfully built and we found ourselves admiring the architecture,building materials and design.
Would definitely consider going back there again! :)

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2009

We visited Nikoi Island 2 weeks ago, and stayed for 4 days. Well, what can I say? It was a little slice of paradise for us, providing the perfect getaway from the busy city life.
(3 hours away from Singapore)

I've written a rather long account (with pictures) of my Nikoi's stay at my blog.
Thus, I shall give a summarized version here =)

We experienced good and personalized services, staff were extremely friendly and approachable, and got our requests and orders right. I had a little accident and dislocated my elbow on the island, but Nikoi's staff were nothing short of MAGNIFICENT in getting transport and medical attention arranged.

Hope I got your names right (Sorry!) - Mansud, Marjar, Yogi, Suhud, Sammy, Tommy, Jimmy, Fitra, and everyone else who helped and showed your concern, thanks! My arm is much better!

They even managed to surprised us with a birthday song (it was my fiancee's birthday) without us telling them about it. Well, how they managed to find out the date, I shall not say..

Our one-bedroom beach house (#13) was not luxurious but extremely adequate, and space was generous. King-size bed right in the middle with mosquito net. I'm going to be truthful about this - there is no tv, no fridge, no internet, no air-conditioning, no internet and no telephone. However, there is an ipod dock, icebox and a ceiling fan. Also, understand that for an open-concept beach house, there are going to be some bugs issue. We didn't get much mosquitoes bites though, just a few. So, if these things mentioned are extremely important to you, I'm not sure if Nikoi's the right place for you.

However, these were not a concern for us. The lack of tv and internet connection was welcomed by us. It is after all, a getaway from everything. We thought the weather might be a little hot with no air-conditioning but somehow, it worked out for us. It helped that we're hardly in our rooms in the afternoon anyway.

If relaxation is what you're after, I feel that Nikoi Island is an excellent choice.
Nikoi Island - Relaxed By Nature.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Nikoi Island

Address: Private Island, Riau Islands Province, Indonesia
Phone Number:
Location: Indonesia > Riau Islands Province > Riau Archipelago > Bintan Island
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Bintan Island
#2 Spa Hotel in Bintan Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 28
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nikoi Island is a 15 hectare private island just 85kms from Singapore and has long been regarded as one of the most stunning islands on this unspoiled coast. Ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs of spectacular color and diversity, Nikoi is for those seeking a true private island experience and the comfort of a destination dedicated to responsible tourism practices. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Nikoi Island Bintan Island, Riau Islands
Nikoi Island Hotel Bintan

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