Lazing on a sun lounger by the pool on the edge of the white sand beach, riveting book in hand, cocktail hour about to get underway, my week-long visit to Bintan couldn’t be more perfect really.
It’s less than an hour by ferry from the busy hub of Singapore to this quiet Indonesian island – which would also make a fabulous stop over to Europe if the bustling city of Singapore isn’t your thing.
The island is home to the famous komodo dragon, an over-sized pre-historic lizard which I was looking out for the entire time I was there. He can be very dangerous, I was told, able to smell his prey from 2km away. But alas he’s also very shy and never showed his ancient face during the week I spent at the newly renovated Club Med resort on the South China Sea.
Five resorts and four golf courses are located on the white sand of the island’s northern beaches which is separated from the main island outside of these gates. But a visit to the local markets at these seaside villages is an eye-opener. Ask your concierge for advice on taxi companies though, and read my story on visiting Tanjung Pinang and playing chess with the locals without being able to speak the same language!
If you’re a golfer, Ria Bintan Golf Course sits right beside the resort and is consistently ranked the top course in Asia. Club Med also has golf pros on site so there’s no excuse not to work on your swing really.
I’m a big fan of all-inclusive holidays, especially Club Med because you’re in a fancy 4-trident (star) property but without any expensive surprises at the end of the week when you get the bill for meals and drinks. With (at least) three meals a day taken care of in their various restaurants and bars, plus your alcohol included, it’s such an easy way to holiday with family or a group of friends who might choose to do a bunch of different things during the day and all meet up for happy hour and dinner with no awkward splitting of the bill to dampen the night.
I learned how to fire an archery arrow here – and was actually quite good! But for more energetic activities, there’s free use of windsurfers, snorkelling gear and catamarans on the crystal clear water. And then if you’re really nothing like me, you can dare your mates (or kids) to join the flying trapeze school and learn how to be an acrobat. Personally, I was happy to be by the pool with a glass of bubbly…
You’ll need to get an Indonesian visa upon arrival at the ferry terminal and it would pay to book your return ferry ticket on arrival in case they’re busy.