Nikoi Island | Footprints in the Sand | Quick Singapore Getaway
I have been walking around barefoot in my sarong for the past three days. As I bury my happy feet in the cool sand, ice coffee in one hand and a book in the other, I glance towards Bobby. He immediately pays attention to me and gives me a big, genuine smile. “Is there anything I can get you?” he says. “No thank you, this is perfect…” and I sigh with content from the bottom of my heart. Pure and simple perfection and only two hours away from Singapore. Welcome to Nikoi.
Said to have been given its name from a local derivation of the Hokkien word for papaya, this Robinson Crusoe paradise is a place for everyone to embrace. Children are left to explore their imagination, not their I-pads, and they roam the island along with Luna the lizard and their handcrafted bows and arrows, while parents wind down with an island cocktail and stunning views of the South China Sea. Honeymooners and friends seeking solitude can have their dinners served in the privacy of one of the 15 beach villas or why not relax with a massage, while listening to the gentle sound of the waves?
It’s your pick and your every need is catered for with a heartfelt professionalism and joy. Seldom have I experienced such happy and truly friendly staff members and they are all ‘brothers and sisters’. Andi has been part of this ‘family’ for the past three years and he tells me, almost a bit shyly, that “we treat our staff well and there are no strict rules”. Many of the staff have been there since the beginning and have developed new skills throughout the years. Although always fully booked, the staff on Nikoi actually seem as relaxed as their guests! They seem proud and privileged to be part of this unique setting. How lovely and rare.
I am stunned by the natural beauty of the island and how the owners have managed to keep it pristine, yet luxurious in the sense of not only superb service, but by an ecologically inspiring business model and functional architecture. The handcrafted houses were constructed making use of driftwood or logs no longer in use by the local Orang Laut (Malay Sea Nomads. They were one of the earlier immigrants who inhabited the coastline along Singapore during pre-colonial days.) and the roofs are thatched with alang alang (dried grass). They are all designed to maximise the refreshing sea breeze and natural air flow, so you won’t see any nasty air conditioners on the island, only handmade ceiling fans! The use of plastic, glass and metal is minimal and the recycled waste is gifted to the local community, who will sell to recyclers and earn a small income.
This and much more is all part of The Island Foundation, which was formed by the owners in 2009 to help and support the local community to develop in a sustainable way. The Island Foundation is a registered charity and has founded six learning centres and libraries so far, where the locals are educated in English, IT, ecotourism, organic farming, marine conservation and artisanal craft. If you visited the National Museum of Singapore a few weeks back, maybe you were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the astonishing fishing net with 14, 000 Swarowski crystals! Talk about bling and beautifully crafted by the Orang Laut!
Nikoi has also reduced the use of electricity considerably by introducing low voltage LED and at night this private Treasure Island is lit up by a bonfire on the beach. Along the jungle trails, the tiki torches spread a magical light and with an exciting anticipation in the air, you feel as if you are about to take part of a Rudyard Kipling adventure…
This eco-consciousness flows through every single detail and Straits Canopy loves how the drinks are served with bamboo straws! It simply makes that sunset Pina Colada taste a little bit better…
You will return home relaxed and with a nice tan, but beware ladies-this is the place where you may also gain a few kilos! (unless you will work it off by taking part of some of the water activities the island has to offer) The set and season dictated menu is truly fit for a king and queen and is served three times a day. Almost all vegetables and fruits are grown, if not organically, locally on small scale farms. On a special diet? No problem! These amazing chefs will enthusiastically whip up tantalizing dishes whether you are a gluten free carnivore or a lactose intolerant vegetarian!
So what are you waiting for? Paradise awaits you only a boat and car ride away! Straits Canopy will most likely stand on the jetty along with the staff to welcome you!
Written by Caroline Jarl