Sunday, March 20, 2011

Telunas Beach Resort in Riau, Indonesia

Sorry for the silence the past few days. We went to check out the Telunas Beach Resort in the Riau islands, three hours away by boat from Singapore.

It's a rustic resort, set on stilts over the sea. Doesn't it look almost like the Maldives? Well, I think this is the nearest resort-on-water that I know of near Singapore. I had not heard of this place until a family friend introduced this to us - they had been there at least six times, and love it!

Incidentally, this blog is taking a new direction with 2011. More travel posts! All food and no play makes everyone a little bit tubby, I say! So we are going to get moving. "The Traveling Camemberu", as I joked with someone on Twitter.

Telunas Beach Resort has private chalets, family rooms, multi-suite family rooms and dormitories. These are all connected by wooden walkways on stilts.

I love the wooden walkway. The boards are deliberately set slightly apart to give you a peek-a-boo view of the shimmery turquoise waters.

Yes, as mentioned, this resort really is rustic. There is no air-conditioning, just ceiling fans and only cool spring-fed showers for most rooms. There's phone coverage but no Internet. No televisions in the rooms, only a shared one in the lounge with a DVD player and a small collection of movies. There are some books and a box of toys in the lounge too.

But the whole point of the resort is to simplify life for a while, and for you to reconnect with nature and self. I do have to say it is very peaceful and tranquil here.

This tanning platform is also where you get to jump uninhibitedly into the sea!

That little island there on yonder is the real Telunas island. The resort is actually on the much larger Pulau Sugi (or Sugi island). Telunas island itself has no water or inhabitants, but the name does have a nicer ring to it, so I'm not surprised they chose it for the resort.

Sunrise here is lovely. You can see the planet Venus, that bright spot in the upper right corner (click to see bigger photo).

Sunset here is just as beautiful. The waters are always very calm.

So that's all on the outside. Let's go inside and see...

The rooms are fairly well-furnished for a rustic resort - dark walnut bed, dresser and chest of drawers, writing table and chair. I mean, I'm used to the spartan diver dormitories at Aur/Dayang on the Malaysian east coast, so this is quite luxurious for me. (And don't ask me why but the kids immediately jumped onto the bed and started playing with the towels).

The only problem I had with the room was an unexplained allergy (sneezing and runny nose) with some falling debris from the roof and timber (happens when it is too dry or when there's a heavy rainstorm).

The resort may be rustic but sanitation is not compromised. The bathrooms are modern, clean and functional. However, only the three private chalets have water heaters, and these are gas-powered (the type where you can see actual flames from a little window)! I haven't seen one of these since I was like 8, in my grandmother's home.

Food is pretty decent. Here I have a tray of breakfast items on my balcony table. There's a live station for eggs in the morning, so you can get your eggs done omelette-style (choose your ingredients), scrambled or sunny side up. Oh, and they have this "morning brew" special where you get to choose a really nice brewed tea or coffee (hubby was thrilled to see Sumatran Mandheling coffee on the menu).

For lunch and dinner, you'll usually see about three dishes with rice, followed by dessert. There's no menu, you eat what they serve, but you can eat as much as you want. It can be Indonesian or Western. The first day was fantastic - rendang, vegetables and a kick-ass sambal belachan! We liked the sambal so much, we bought some to take home.

And then, one night we got beef tacos/burritos, complete with salsa and guacamole! Desserts can be interesting too. Homestyle cendol, banana crepes, and something that looks and tastes like a brownie, but is made amazingly from black glutinous rice flour (no chocolate at all)!

It is quite easy to overeat, as I think I did. After a full meal, you can relax on the lounge chairs and hammock pavilions on the beach. You can play football and beach volleyball too. Kayaks are available for rent. And there is even a bonfire pit. On the final night, we set up the fire and roasted marshmallows as we looked up into the clear starry night.

Jolie got quite a tan there. The children, of course, loved the beach and the sea. Interestingly, the beach has a sand bank that kind of forms a shallow wading area that's perfect for the kids.

If you are so inclined, you can explore beyond the resort. There is a steep jungle trail which leads to a small obstacle course in a clearing. The host will bring you with a local guide. You can also check out the mangrove swamps and nearby villages.

There's also an interesting sight on the beach at low tide. An army of soldier crabs by the thousands will emerge from their sandy home.

This is a close-up of what they look like.

There is certainly quite a bit of wildlife around. Birds will make nests under the huts. We saw a huge hornbill at the beach. You can hear monkeys squabbling in the forest. A few stray dogs howling at the moon.

Telunas Beach Resort was started by three Americans, but the staff are all local. You are assigned a guide or host who will take care of you throughout your stay. I do have to say the service here is fantastic.

They recently hosted their first wedding here too. Sometimes school kids from international schools will come here by the boatload, but they will let you know if your visit coincides with large groups.

It takes about three hours to reach Telunas Beach Resort from Singapore. First, you take a ferry (45 mins) from Harbour Front Ferry Terminal to the Sekupang terminal in Batam, and transfer to a Malay-style fishing boat (90-120 mins, depending on currents) which will take you direct to the resort.

The boat transfers can be a bit costly, so it makes sense to go in a big group. See full details and costs here. Our private chalet (inclusive of food) cost about S$200 (twin-sharing) per chalet per night (kids below 5 stay free, additional adult $70, additional child aged 5 and above $30). With the boat transfers, our 4D3N stay for a family of four (two kids staying free) came up to about $1,000.

For more information on the resort, check out their website and Facebook page. They are currently expanding the resort, and there is some construction (and thus noise) going on. It should be completed sometime in July 2011.


  1. Chenyze: Haha, thanks! It is quite a nice place.

  2. So beautiful. I feel like I'm there already getting some sand, sun and the sea... but not quite vacation time yet! :P

  3. Hi camemberu,

    I'm new to ur blog..Glad I read this post..A perfect getaway for our anniversary.. Thanks for the great details on cost, photos and the links.. :D

  4. Great post! I love your pictures. :)

  5. More Travel posts! Yay!! Love both food and travel!

  6. Thanks Camemberu for lovely post of Telunas Beach Resort! Looks like it's the next destination for me. ;-) Cheers

  7. What a gorgeous place! Well worth the 3 hour boat ride! :)

  8. Hi, do you think the malay-fishing boat is safe?

  9. Thanks, everyone!

    Last anonymous: yes, it is very safe. I had my worries too, but it's even safe for kids, cos the waters are very calm.

  10. was actually about to google for places to have a break! thanks Catherine!

  11. There is only one thing better than shopping in Hong Kong, and that's eating. From small noodle joints to upscale French restaurant, you will locate all sorts of restaurant, eating hall and snack stall on earth in Hong Kong. Here I found small amount of Hong-Kong-styled snacks online ( This is definitely a good choice before I have $ for another trip.

  12. hi! i was doubting at first but when i read this im sold!!! i love it! just one question thou,. does the tanning thingy is assign to every chalet :D

  13. Great to see this post or also the pictures of these two lovely babies is so beautiful..I like the accommodation or also like the place,thanks..!!!
    Estartit Ferienhäuser

  14. Thanks for this detailed blog post .. I'm going in June


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