Escape to Pulau Joyo
If you are searching for a Robinson Crusoe type island set in the middle of nowhere, crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, then Pulau Joyo could be for you. Located directly on the Equator, approximately three hours southeast of Singapore, the island is part of Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago.
The journey to Joyo isn’t the easiest trip, but this is part of the excitement of visiting a remote paradise. A two-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore brings you to the bustling port of Tanjung Pinang. Here you are met by Joyo representatives and escorted through Indonesia immigration to a vehicle for a 30-minute drive across Bintan Island. On the eastern coast, you board a small speed boat for a 20-minute ride to one of the furthest islands of the archipelago, Pulau Joyo. As you approach the private island, you are greeted by every member of the staff frantically waving at you. As soon as the boat hits the the beach, you are whisked off and a homemade, welcome fruit juice appears in your hand; you’ve joined the family.
This small, private island offers six palace homes that include Driftwood Palaces, Java Houses, and Treehouses. We stayed in Java Juwana—a beautiful, traditional house that was lovingly transported and re-assembled on the island. Made entirely from driftwood salvaged from the sea, the room has a feeling of space and tranquility. Located directly on the beach, you may drift to sleep and wake up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach—my ideal wake-up call. Each room is equipped with a king-sized bed, en suite shower and bathroom, a day bed, homemade toiletries, and copious amounts of mosquito spray (though we were never bitten). Our Java house had a beautiful veranda, perfect for early morning yoga and outfitted with a swing for lazy afternoons of reading and napping.
The authentic food was one of the most enchanting parts of our stay—it felt like eating home-cooked meals with an Indonesian family. At every meal, a table is set up for you at different locations on the island—you never eat in the same place twice. Menus don’t exist, which is not only refreshing but makes for an even more relaxing stay. For breakfast, expect a platter of fresh fruit, beautiful homemade guava juice, homemade bread, and eggs to order. For lunch, a series of around eight dishes are laid out with choices that range from satay chicken to chilli crab, beef patties alongside spicy aubergine, seasonal salads and vegetables, and homemade prawn crackers. A similar spread is presented for dinner, with romantic tables set up on the beach. An honesty bar is set up by the pool stocked with complimentary snacks, not that you’ll be very hungry after lunch. Afternoon tea is also served at your preferred time, wherever you are on the island. Expect homemade cakes or biscuits and a selection of teas.
There is no doubt that the main attraction of Joyo is the opportunity to switch off and recharge. Eating, reading, swimming, and sleeping are the main activities on the island. In addition, relaxing Javanese massages are offered in the room or in one of the round balés near the pool area. Snorkeling, fishing, and sailing are available for more adventurous guests, which also provides the chance to get to know the staff and hear more about life on Joyo. A 15-minute walk around the entire island to admire the island’s beauty and remoteness is the perfect post-breakfast jaunt. The pool area is the heart of the island, with a beautiful lotus shaped pool and driftwood diving board. It is overlooked by the pool pavilion: home to relaxing seating areas, an honesty bar, and ping pong table.
Where have you gone to experience paradise? Share your recommendation in the reply section below.
About the Author
An urban planner by trade, Melissa’s real passion is traveling and exploring the world. She lives in Soho, the heart of London. Spending most of her childhood visiting coastal parts of Europe developed her interest in discovering new places. She now spends her spare time planning and preparing future holidays around the globe. Her most recent trips were to Sri Lanka and Indonesia and she is currently planning a big trip next year to Argentina.