There’s something refreshing about being ushered to your room, or in the case of Amanwana on Indonesia’s Moyo Island, your tent, only to discover that you do not need a key.
Flanked by tropical rainforest on one side and coral-laced beaches on the other, the resort comprises 20 deluxe tents reminiscent of the glory days of colonial expeditions, divided into Jungle and Ocean boudoirs depending on their proximity to the sea. On this secluded isle – part of an archipelago also boasting surfing hot spot Lombok and nature reserve Komodo, famous for its dragons – there’s little chance of being set upon by intruders. Unless, that is, you count the marauding families of macaques, curious deer or the odd turtle.
I’ve become addicted to snake fruit, topped up daily in my Jungle Tent, and so have my new-found friends, a small clan of wild crab-eating monkeys. My top tip would be don’t ever leave your tent door open, otherwise drastic measures may need to be taken to remove pesky simians from your room. I come across a male monkey devouring my entire fruit bowl. When I ask him to save me the snake fruit all I get in response is a cheeky hiss and a show of teeth. The greedy thing won’t share one little bit with his host!
A petite seaplane whisks guests in from capital Denpasar, accommodating only eight passengers, and as the name suggests, landing right on Moyo's doorstep: the inlet known here as ‘Turtle Street’. Disembarking onto the pier, you are warmly greeted and swiftly transported by waiting jeep to your tent. Then, suddenly, you are left alone amid all that serenity. Rooms are internet-friendly, but there are no iPod docks and – gasp – no TVs! But this is a definitive element of Amanwana’s appeal: your entertainment is instead to be found in vigorous treks through virgin forests or the myriad watersports up for grabs. Your soundtrack is the call of native fauna and the gentle lapping of waves. For the truly tech-dependant, though, there is a dedicated outdoor Music Room where iPod playlists can be enjoyed on comfy loungers or a DVD beamed onto an old-school projector screen while you savour cocktails or a meal lit by swaying Chinese lanterns.
A thatched roof, exposed beams, sturdy wooden pillars, simple table arrangements and low couches along the perimeter define the Dining Room, the restaurant at the heart of the hotel which is a prime example of Indonesian architecture. The menu is precisely what you want. Aside from a few staples such as nasi and mee goreng, two entrées, three mains and two desserts are offered at each sitting, proudly showcasing local produce, and fruit and vegetables from Amanwana’s own gardens.
Highlights during our stay include spicy chicken, superb vegetable curry and refreshing rice-paper rolls. The wine list is limited and could do with some work (this being my only gripe, given that of the three wines I order one night, none are available) but a plethora of fruit-based cocktails are on offer along with the usual suspects. Don’t expect stashes of junky snack foods back in your room (although they can be requested), as this really is the ultimate rejuvenating getaway. The excellent spa facilities, featuring all manner of healthy scrubs, cleanses, soaks and traditional massages, further inspire you to return home reinvigorated.
You can get your heart pumping with a hike to Crocodile Head for a jaw-dropping view of the sunset or a walk along the scenic ridge. A lengthy trek takes you to the awe-inspiring waterfall where a swim in the crystalline waters is a must. This little slice of paradise can also be reached through daily excursions via boat and jeep in a four-hour round trip, leaving ample time for exploration and a dip.
Paddle boards are the perfect way to circumnavigate the island or there’s kayaking, snorkelling and scuba-diving – probably the area’s greatest claim to fame. We opt for an unforgettable trip along the coral reef, which rewards us with a magnificent tapestry of tropical sea life. If you prefer to stay dry, but still want a piece of the action, you can charter a variety of vessels. The Aman Madu, a restored Madura fishing boat, is ideal for a seductive sunset cruise or a spot of bottom fishing. Our leisurely afternoon aboard results in a number of small tropical fish we happily return to the sea and an impressive sweetlip snapper. The Aman XV and Aman XVI are built for speed and suit avid divers and game-fishers, while the powerful four-stroke Aman XX is tailormade for day trips island-hopping, deep-sea fishing and diving.
Wistful parents are in luck. Although it’s ridiculously romantic, we’re happy to report that Amanwana is most definitely kid-friendly. Aside from the natural wonderland all around you and the seaside adventures awaiting each day, there are also child-specific activities such as fish-feeding, sandcastle competitions and cultural distractions such as coconut-leaf bird-making, along with kids’ DVD evenings and an impressive and generous children’s menu.
Would we come back to Moyo Island? Yes, in a heart beat, but next time with our three children in tow and better prepared for fruit wars with those mischievous macaques.