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Island of Indulgence

Island of Indulgence

Laze in the gentle lap of luxury on Indonesia’s Bawah Island eco-resort, an exclusive destination only accessible by seaplane.

Island of Indulgence

The flirty fish are chattering among the coral, while on the beach, hermit crabs are feasting on the remnants of green turtle eggs that have been raided by giant monitor lizards. In this sensual circle of life scenario, I find myself not only top of the pecking order, but also at Indonesia’s latest luxury eco-resort on beautiful Bawah Island.

Located halfway between Malaysia and Borneo, this former fisherman’s enclave, part of the Anambas Islands chain, is surrounded by three lagoons and 13 beaches, and has 21 beach suites, 11 over water ones and three garden suites, catering for a maximum of only 70 guests.

Think exotic Indonesian timber bungalows furnished with freestanding baths, beds draped in luxe fabric, and decks with stairs that disappear into the ocean.

Bawah dining is a decadent affair, with a morning menu including coconut scrambled eggs. If that doesn’t entice, the chef will construct meals based on your preferences with local produce. Saunter up 88 stairs to Treetops Restaurant for fine dining. At the end of the jetty, go to the Grouper Bar for a casual cocktail and the beachfront Boat House for barbecues.

At Bawah’s wellness centre, Aura, you can try an array of mind and body treatments. Look around and you’ll see the furnishings on the island are made from recycled materials, like the giant octopus made of construction wire that adorns the ceiling of Jules Verne Bar. To embrace the modern definition of luxury, this resort takes its eco-footprint seriously, establishing the Bawah Anambas Foundation (BAF), which focuses on initiatives above (the rainforest), below (the ocean) and beyond (local communities). The big issues throughout Indonesia have been over-fishing and waste management. “We are working on marine and forest conservation to create a long-term biosphere regulated by UNESCO,” BAF consultant Jerry Winata says. “We are looking at projects such as coral restoration and preservation, and restocking fish, but we need to be able to work with local communities. It is about what we can do for them to increase their welfare. All they know all of their life is just fishing. If we don’t want them to overfish, how will they feed their family and put their children through school?”

There are hundreds of villages in the Anambas District. The island’s permaculturalist Joe Semo hopes to make the island self-sufficient: “I’m here to provide Bawah with year-round organic produce. The aim is to be self-sufficient in food as we are far away from anything.”

On a remote island such as this, water is the ultimate luxury, and even wastewater is treated to supply gardens. Back in the ocean, those chatterboxes couldn’t agree more.

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