Bawah - Your Own Private Luxury Island
Tucked away in Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago, just far away enough from the southern tip of Malaysia and West Borneo - Bawah Island is the perfect place to unwind, reconnect with nature, and have a digital detox.
It took five years to build Bawah due to the eco-minded construction methods. No machines were brought in since the owner wanted to preserve the unique ecosystem of the island. As a result, they had to use traditional Indonesian methods such as cracking rocks by heating them up and then dropping them into the ocean. The end result was a beautiful marriage of nature and human architecture!
Due to Bawah's unique location - the only comfortable way to get there is by seaplane! I was definitely apprehensive with the thought of flying on one, but the Bawah seaplane was by far the smoothest ride I've ever had in the air! Also, true to tropical form, the pilots were barefoot and super island chill!
Bawah will send a Mercedes Benz to pick you up from your hotel in Singapore, escort you to your ferry to Batam, Indonesia and then the seaplane will depart from Batam airport. It was all a very smooth and comfortable process where you are fast tracked through each checkpoint.
Once on the plane, I recommend sitting on the left side for the best views of Bawah. The pilot will usually circle around one time before landing.
Bawah is composed of 35 beautifully designed villas. They are split into 3 types: overwater, beach, and garden. Usually the overwater villas would be the winner here but the beach villas were just as good. While the overwater villas allowed direct access to the crystal clear water, the beach villas had their own private white sand beach.
We especially loved the natural design of the villas. From the copper tubs to the tropical print wallpaper - they really knocked it out of the park with the design touches. The beach villas also had just the right amount of jungle vegetation between each, creating a good sense of privacy and feeling that you were the only one on the island.
Each villa is assigned a personal butler who's main focus is to keep you happy by fulfilling all your needs and wishes! Since we're so photography focused - Bayu (our amazing butler) was pretty much our personal photographer when we needed shots of the both of us. He was actually a great photographer too! He knew how to frame the shot and pose us as needed.
Here is a shot that he took of us from this incredible vantage point!
Bayu also helped to arrange a private picnic on a secluded beach. When we got to the beach by private boat, there were seats set up with umbrellas, fruit, drinks, snacks, and sunscreen! At Bawah, you can pretty much ask for any of these experiences and it's all included in your stay! From having a personal snorkel guide to having someone take you for a sail around the island - you can really have it all here.
Another favorite aspect ours at Bawah was the wonderful spa! As part of your stay you get one treatment a day - which we took full advantage of! I could tell right away that the spa was the real deal since they knew what Tok Sen massage was. I spent about three months in Chiang Mai learning Thai Massage techniques - with Tok Sen being one of them. You don't normally see Tok Sen being offered outside of North Thailand, let alone a spa in the middle of the Anambas archipelago!
My masseuse trained at Wat Po in Bangkok and had super strong and controlled pressure - just how I like my Thai Massage! It was some of the best massage I received, even compared to Thailand. He really released some major knots in my shoulders and upper back.
You'll never be bored with the variety of activities on offer at Bawah including but not limited to paddleboarding, clear bottom kayaking, walks on the beach, snorkeling, or straight up chilling at the gorgeous outdoor pool.
Last but not least, the amazing kitchen headed by Omar delivered one of the most customized food menu on our trip! Every day Omar would come by to chat about the island and what he had in the kitchen for the day. You could really pick any kind of food from local Indonesia food, to freshly made pizza, and all the way to fusion soba salmon noodles.
They even had a special sunset dinner on the beach for us on the last night of our stay!
Prices run around $1,800 a night, which might seem steep at first - but in the realms of luxury villas on private islands, Bawah is a great deal. First, the resort is all-inclusive so all your transportation to and from Singapore is covered (including the seaplane), all meals and non-alcoholic drinks are covered, all spa activities are included, and also all activites (snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, private beach picnics, etc) are included. You could easily spend $1,000 a day in the Maldives at similar level luxury resorts. Bawah takes all the worry out of it so you don't have to keep a mental tally of your charges.
Also, Bawah is the first island in Indonesia to be powered by a renewable microgrid. All water is sourced on the island and recycled as drinking water. solar energy is used for heating, all paper is mulched and composted, and all other waste is sent back to Batam for recycling. The hotel is part of the Bawah Foundation, created to channel funds back into the local community.
We hope to see you at Bawah one of these days! We know you'll love and enjoy it as much as we did!