Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago Is the Desert Island Fantasy of Your Dreams

Bahwah Reserve
Bahwah ReserveCourtesy of Bahwah Reserve

A once-uninhabited chain of islands in northern Indonesia is now home to a sustainable lodge, which is setting a new standard for barefoot luxury.



Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago lies roughly 150 nautical miles northeast of an island called Batam, in the middle of a sea named North Natuna, with the Malaysian mainland to the west and Borneo to the east. This is to say: It’s remote—really remote. But it’s far from desolate. This summer, six previously uninhabited islands in the chain became home to Bawah Reserve, a collection of 35 luxury suites situated either in the midst of the islands’ tropical forests or above one of three private blue lagoons.

The whole property, which is set in a marine preserve, caters to outdoor adventurers, who can kayak or sail between islands, trek through the forest, snorkel or dive above the coral reef, or just relax on one of its 13 secluded white-sand beaches. Even getting here is a rush. From Singapore, the all-inclusive lodge shuttles you in via a seaplane that lands on a crystal-clear sea. It may be as close as you’ll ever get to feeling shipwrecked. Except here there’s no need for difficult desert-island decisions on what to bring—you’ll have everything you need.

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