Telunas Private Island resort offers a socially responsible weekend getaway just three hours from Singapore
By Rachel Will
For a transformative weekend getaway from Singapore, consider the newly-opened Telunas Private Island resort. Just three hours from the Lion City by boat (that is, by speedboat to Batam, Indonesia, followed by a local fishing boat transfer), idyllic over-water villas and natural activities—hikes around the island teeming with wildlife, stand-up paddle boarding—await, offering a reset from the city’s bustle. Founded in 2004, the Telunas family of resorts is built on principles of community service and socially responsible tourism. Here, you can take day trips to volunteer at sites where Telunas has invested in the surrounding Riau Islands through infrastructure, education, and healthcare—or rest easy in the cozy island compound knowing your stay is benefiting the local community.
The Look: Approaching the island, it is difficult to believe your proximity to Singapore. Your boat will cut a path through sparsely populated islands, with multicolored homes lofted above the water until the scenery begins to thin. Alighting on a wood jetty—also good for jumping off of into the glittering water—smiling staff members from the surrounding islands will greet you with a cool towel and drink, welcoming you to the secluded island with its sea villas cascading from the shore on stilts. The resort’s wooden lodge, constructed using all local materials and furnished with pieces from recycled jetty wood, offers open-air dining and views of the beach.
The Rooms: The resort’s 15 sea villas were built using ethically sourced materials including roofing from sagu leaves that were picked only once they had naturally fallen to the ground. The resultant airy and rustic cabins are simple in form but luxurious in execution. Enter from the wooden jetty to the sitting room, where tall glass windows allow natural sunlight and island breezes to filter inside. A children’s loft upstairs sleeps three, and downstairs a king-size bed offers views of the neighboring island from plush confines. But don’t expect all the modern conveniences during your stay—air-con is left to the cooling effect of the water beneath your villa, and Wi-Fi and televisions were purposely forgotten at the resort.
The Appeal: Though wired guests may lament the lack of internet accessibility at Telunas, the unplugged feel is exactly what the resort hopes to provide. Without the daily distractions of work and devices, visitors can truly unwind and experience the beauty of the Riau Islands without having a phone to attend to. Choose to spend your days sunning by the Eternity Pool or hike the hilly island—but watch out for the resort’s pets: a rescued eagle from a nearby island and a languid monitor lizard roam the trails. For a change of scenery, journey to neighboring Telunas Beach resort for activities including mangrove river tours and beach sports.
The Surrounds: Located on a remote island, Telunas lacks major attractions beyond the natural beauty of the island and activities spent exploring it. But guests don’t come here looking for the outside world anyway—just the destination and their immediate company.
For those in the know… Want an up-close tour of how your tourism dollars are benefiting the local community? Telunas offers site visits to its sundry social-impact projects, from restored sea walls to education initiatives. Its responsible tourism mantra will leave you feeling inspired, and that much more connected to your serene surrounds.
Telunas Private Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia; 62/811-7710951; Telunas Private Island; doubles from US$180.