Pulau Joyo is a small private island resort located in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, just a short boat ride from Bintan Island and within easy reach of Singapore. This magical private island resort near Singapore showcases barefoot luxury at its finest, and is the ideal destination to live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies.
From the moment the boat nudges its nose up onto the sandy shores of the island and the friendly staff usher you along the winding pathways through the palm trees, you know that you have arrived somewhere very special indeed.
Accommodation is in driftwood beach palaces and traditional Javanese joglos, entertainment is centered around the white sandy beach and crystal clear water of the surrounding ocean – or in the resort’s swimming pool and pavilion, and dining is with the sand beneath your toes to the light of a beach bonfire.
Have we intrigued you? Read on to find out more in our review of Pulau Joyo.
Bedtime at Pulau Joyo
Accommodation at Pulau Joyo is limited – just four Driftwood Beach Palaces, two traditional Javanese Joglos and one Driftwood Palace, which are reached via winding sandy pathways through the trees. These palaces and joglos can be booked individually – or you can hire the whole island and host a private party for up to 45 people.
Our home for our two-night stay at Pulau Joyo was one of the four Driftwood Beach Palaces. These gorgeous beachfront houses tower over the beach on high stilts and gaze out to sea. Built from driftwood salvaged from the sea, the beach palaces are open plan with small sea-facing balconies and high ceilings are designed to attract the sea breeze, which is important, as there is no air conditioning on Pulau Joyo.
But don’t let the lack of air con put you off – there are plenty of fans provided in each room, and we all slept with fans pointing towards our beds. And what could be a more relaxing way to sleep than with a breeze on your face and the sound of the waves lapping on the beach outside your window? It’s certainly my favourite way to sleep!
Our room featured a king sized bed with mosquito net, and a double Balinese day bed (also with mosquito net), where our two kids slept, as well as a cot. A spacious bathroom featured a large walk-in shower. Water temperature was a bit hit-or-miss, but I guess you might expect that on a desert island.
We loved all the stylish design details that featured throughout the room – the shell-encrusted mirror in the bathroom and the traditionally carved wooden doors. And despite the lack of air conditioning, there are plenty of mod-cons in the room: electric kettle, Bluetooth speakers, free WIFI and hair dryer are all provided.
There was a seating area with sofas and coffee table within the room, with further seating including a hammock provided underneath the driftwood palace on the sand.
Other choices for accommodation include the two traditional Javanese joglos and the more budget-friendly Driftwood Palace. The traditional joggles, which have been dismantled in Java and re-assembled on the island, are bigger than the Driftwood Beach Palaces and house one king bed and four day beds, and also boast large balconies looking out to sea. The Driftwood Palace also hosts a king bed and day bed, but has a detached bathroom.
Playtime at Pulau Joyo
There is plenty to keep you occupied in Pulau Joyo with kids – from the gorgeous tree-shaded pool to gleaming white beach and numerous watersports. The swimming pool forms the centerpiece of the resort, and at 25 metres long is the perfect size for a small island resort. We loved that it was so deep (4 metres), making it fun for jumping off the natural tree trunk diving board.
There is a large grassy lawn area for the kids to run around on, with plenty of fun games, including badminton, petanque, beach volleyball and even a table tennis table and billiard table in the pool pavilion.
But what really makes this island special is the amazing beach and the crystal clear waters surrounding it. We started every morning with a walk around the island before breakfast – this takes around twenty minutes and we always managed to find a monitor lizard rummaging in the leaves on the beach and spot fish jumping out at sea.
After breakfast we would load the kids onto stand up paddle boards and into kayaks and set off for a paddle around the island – again this takes around twenty minutes, and the water is so amazingly crystal clear there is plenty of opportunity to see the coral and fish below.
There is snorkeling equipment to borrow and the staff will also arrange fishing trips out on the boat if you ask. If you prefer something more relaxing, you can take your book and kick back in one of the cabanas around the pool or arrange a massage – or just head to the beach. With so few people on the island you are sure to find a secluded stretch where you never need see anyone else all day.
Dinnertime at Pulau Joyo
Three meals a day are included in the price of your booking at Pulau Joyo. Meals are served family style with a choice of both Indonesian and Western dishes. One thing is for sure – nobody is going to go hungry at Pulau Joyo! There was a huge range of dishes, and about five times the amount than we could possibly eat was served up at every meal.
The mix of Indonesian and Western dishes did sometimes lead to some strange combinations – chilli crab with fried rice, frankfurters, fried chicken, spaghetti and French fries all on the table together, but at least there was always something to tempt the kids with.
Although the island is small, we enjoyed our meals in a different location every time – once in a cabana by the pool, another time upstairs under the antler chandelier of the high-ceilinged pool pavilion. But our favourite location was out on the beach, where they set up the tables around a roaring campfire and we dined with our toes in the sand. They even put on a firework show!
The staff were very accommodating as to times of meals too – it was up to us when we ate, and there was no problem with the kids eating earlier, so that we could then put them to bed and then dine later ourselves while they slept under the watchful eye of a babysitter.
If you are visiting Pulau Joyo with kids, note that there is no shop on the island and so you will need to bring any snacks you need for the kids – you can also bring marshmallows for the fire and can keep perishable items in the fridge. We brought fresh milk for the kids to be sure.
The downstairs of the pool pavilion is dedicated to a well stocked bar with comfy sofas overlooking the pool area. The bar here works on an honesty system – you can help yourselves to beers and soft drinks out the fridge and write it down in the book. However we found that there was usually a member of staff here to help out or whip up a gin and tonic when needed. There are more comfy seating areas upstairs in the pool pavilion too.
You can also bring your own wine and spirits with you and keep bottles in the fridge in the pool pavilion – obviously this is subject to Indonesian customs allowances and is also subject to a corkage fee from Pulau Joyo.
Conclusion of our Pulau Joyo Review
It’s hard not to fall in love with Pulau Joyo and I spent my whole time here not quite believing how lucky we were to have a private paradise island practically to ourselves.
We visited with another family and there were also two other couples and an extended family staying at the same time as us – but we really felt like we had the entire island to ourselves most of the time. Only occasionally did we see the other family by the pool, while the couples only emerged at mealtimes (perhaps they were put off by our kids!)
Pulau Joyo is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway from Singapore. We spent two nights on Pulau Joyo – arriving Friday lunchtime and leaving Sunday early afternoon. While this was fine, I would definitely recommend at least an extra night if you have the time, as travel time from Singapore is around 3.5 hours.
If you are looking for complete relaxation and seclusion in a paradise setting, then Pulau Joyo is definitely an awesome choice for a private island resort close to Singapore. My morning stroll along the white sandy beaches and kayaking around the crystal clear waters are memories that will stay with me for a long time.
Pin it for later!
Mum on the Move stayed ‘undercover’ at Pulau Joyo and paid for our own stay. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely honest, and my own.