Looking for a short, convenient get-away from the hustle and bustle of city-life? Then Bintan Island is the way to go! Just a 55-minute ferry ride away from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, you’ll be chillin’ by the pool in tropical island bliss quicker than you can say, “Where’s Bintan?”
Spurred on by positive feedback from other families with small children, my husband and I decided to spend a long weekend with our 21-month-old daughter at the super family-friendly, Nirwana Resort Hotel on Bintan Island. And what fun we had!
How to get there
We travelled to Bintan with Bintan Resort Ferries. The ride in itself was a pretty cool experience as we could check out the coastline of Singapore and all the cargo ships on the South China Sea as we went. Our tickets were about $60 per adult for a round-trip, with our daughter’s ticket costing us about $50 (children under the age of 11 – even infants – require a full ticket).
Bintan Resort Ferries recommends that travelers arrive an hour before departure, but because we were running behind schedule, we arrived 40 minutes prior to our departure time. We didn’t have to wait in any lines, and we got on the boat with no hassle. Our seats were perfectly comfortable, refreshments were made available at inexpensive prices, and we had a great view of the water.
Nirwana Resort Hotel
When we arrived to the resort (it was only a 10-minute car ride from the Indonesian ferry terminal) we were greeted with a delicious cold beverage, and the friendly staff showed us to our Deluxe Premiere Room. Our room was in the newly renovated area of the hotel, so was practically brand new. Score! Although there was still some construction going on around the resort, we had a great view of the pool and sea, and weren’t really disturbed by the renovations.
The only thing I found a little frustrating (other moms with bubs may find the same thing) was that there wasn’t a way to get to the pool without using the stairs. We used our stroller a lot so our daughter could nap on the go, however most of the time we needed a hotel staff-member to help carry the stroller up and down the stairs.
We spent the majority of our time at the pool and on the beach. The beach at Nirwana was incredible! The water was so clear, and the sand was white and soft. There wasn’t much of a tide, so it was very breezy and peaceful and perfect for our daughter. She had so much fun just playing in the sand! We did however have to make sure that she was always wearing footwear because we did found some pieces of broken glass on the beach.
One afternoon, I even took the opportunity to have a massage by the beach – for only $34! The resort was also running a promotion during our stay, which included a massage in our hotel room for $33. I was a very happy totally blissed out camper all weekend. Ahhhh!
Breakfast at The Coffee Shop at Nirwana was also complimentary for guests and was pretty good. We really enjoyed the fact that we had so many different selections – great for fussy little eaters! It’s also the perfect spot to enjoy a meal as the restaurant has big windows that look over the pool.
On Friday night, we had dinner at this amazing eatery called The Kelong Seafood Restaurant, which was literally built on stilts above the sea. The resort provided a shuttle bus to the restaurant (it’s only a quick 3-minute drive away) and when we arrived we were blown away with the alfresco dining area and cooling sea breezes. We couldn’t stop taking photos of the gorgeous views and we were amazed by the fantastic sunset. Although this restaurant is very family-friendly, it did make me a little nervous to let our toddler run around for fear that she would fall into the water!
If it hadn’t been for our toddler’s bedtime, we would have stayed at this restaurant and enjoyed drinks all night long. The food was great (I highly recommend the Lemon Chicken), and the yummy drinks just topped off our incredible evening there.
Around the Resort
To get a good look around the resort, we took a half-hour horse-carriage ride – fantastic fun for littlies! We stopped at the mini zoo to check out the crocodiles, birds, snakes, and other animals, which our daughter really enjoyed.
The highlight for us though came with the Elephant Show, where my daughter and husband actually became part of the show. Our little girl danced right alongside the huge elephants in front of the audience! You’ll want to raise your hand quick smart when they ask for volunteers though, as anyone can be part of the show. Older kids can enjoy getting to ride one of the elephants – our little one was so close to going for a ride before giving us a very firm, “no”.
There is also plenty of other activities to do within the resort, including bowling, rifle shooting, archery, riding dune buggies, windsurfing, snorkeling, and jet skiing (amongst others) that there is something here for every member of the family to keep busy with. Do be aware that there is a fee for most of the activities however.
The Bottom Line
I would highly recommend Nirwana Resort Hotel if you’re looking for a family-friendly resort in a quick, easy to get to location. Bintan Island is the perfect place to bring family and friends visiting Singapore (you could even nab one of the big villas), so they can get a small taste of another country during their trip too.
Sassy Mama Tip:
Always look for and ask for current promotions when booking your stay. Nirwana Gardens’ property consists of five different resorts, hotels and villas, all at different price points. We stayed over a weekend in May and the weather was perfect. You’ll also want to claim your chairs by the pool early because once the sun comes out they go quickly!
Nirwana Resort Hotel
Jalan Panglima Pantar, Lagoi 29155
Bintan Resorts, Indonesia
Tel: (+65) 6323 6636
Melissa Saigh is the 30-year-old mom behind the well-known Minnesota Baby blog, the real life account of her American family of three living in Singapore. Before welcoming her daughter Linna into the world in August of 2011, Melissa worked as a television and radio personality in Minnesota, and continues to appear on-air while focusing on her “new” career as a stay-at-home mom.
Photo courtesy of Teresa Hermes Photography