Jumping out of chronological order to skip ahead and tell you about my February adventures! We’ll be back to Hawaii soon <3
After our incredible introduction to the Riau Islands province of Indonesia at Telunas Beach Resort, we packed up and took a five minute boat ride to a whole new level of barefoot luxury.
Years after opening their original, family-and-budget-friendly property, the founders of Telunas decided to expand by purchasing a teeny speck of a private island about a mile from their original property on Sugi Island and building a newer, even grander resort there. Telunas Private Island was born.
While Telunas Beach Resort is all about getting back to basics, Telunas Private Island comes with a few more perks, like a cobalt infinity pool, a swoon-worthy spa, a bar mixing up craft cocktails, more included activities, grander meals, and luxuriously upgraded accommodation.
That said, the principles behind both resorts are the same: there’s no wifi, and guests are invited and encouraged to use their time unplugged to reconnect to each other, to get to know their fellow guests and the lovely local staff, and to immerse themselves in the stunning private island they’re stranded on.
At Telunas Private Island, all fifteen sea villas are identical. The only difference between them is their proximity to the Grand Lodge — if you want an easier walk to and from meals and the communal areas, ask for one closer; if you want more peace and privacy, ask for one farther away.
Inside, villas have a separate living room, bedroom, and bathroom, as well as a loft with two beds for kiddos. A spacious balcony has a sunbed for two — our favorite spot to relax in all of Telunas Private Island, after much research and debate.
Our villa also had a water dispenser with cold water for drinking and and hot water for in-room tea and coffee, plus a complimentary set of bug spray, massage oil, and aloe vera shea butter lotion. Like at Telunas Beach Resort, the room was cooled by fans and natural breezes rather than by AC, all soaps, shampoo and conditioner were in refillable ceramic bottles and there wasn’t a single plastic water bottle in sight.
Despite the free bugspray, the only time we ever saw mosquitoes was on our hike around the island — more on that in a bit. In our room, we slept with the doors wide open to enjoy the sound of the wind whipping around in the evening, and to watch the sunrise in the morning.
When that first bit of light peeked through and woke us, we’d grab the comforter off the bed and run out to our balcony and watch the day begin from our sunbed, snuggled under our comforter with mugs of tea in hand. It was over one of these mornings that Ian declared this was one of his favorite trips we’d ever taken.
I must admit, compared to our typical morning routine of waking up and scrolling through our phones, it was pretty heavenly.
The seventy-strong staff at Telunas Private Island were just incredible. The majority are from within a 30-minute radius of the resort, which I loved. And they weren’t just hospitality robots; they told us about themselves and their lives and genuinely seemed interested in getting to know us in return.
I excitedly swapped stories of tackling Rinjani with one of the staff who had hiked every peak in the Lesser Sunda Islands as a trekking guide, while another wowed us with numerical bar tricks on the back of a cocktail napkin at every meal after he saw us doing a crossword at breakfast one morning. We watched as one British family who had stayed a week exchanged email addresses with several members of staff and all profusely promised to stay in touch — I have no doubt that they did.
Rather than the casual buffet-style meals of Telunas Beach Resort, at Telunas Private Island dining is a little different. For breakfast, there was a small buffet plus an omelette station and a menu of a la carte items. Lunch was a typically a set menu of Indonesian food plus a small buffet of salads, bread and soup, however they were incredibly accommodating that I don’t eat seafood. Dinner was a choice of three main Western courses plus an appetizer and a dessert. All are included in the mandatory meal plan, though you have the same options for add-on meals as you do at Telunas Beach Resort.
We loved having the time to linger over a three course meal and have long conversations, and we both raved over the Indonesian lunch specials, much to the delight of the local staff who served them. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the Indonesian cooking demos that are occasionally on the activity calendar.
For those feeling peckish between meals, the Sand Bar serves up craft cocktails as well as snacks for an extra charge. We were on a detox of sorts over this trip and didn’t have a single alcoholic drink, but we did toast the sunset with a set of delicious mocktails one night.
For those who might want to bring home gifts or a reminder of such a special trip, a small gift shop sells fair-trade souvenirs and handmade pottery from the onsite Telunas Beach Resort Ceramics Studio.
While much of our time at Telunas Private Island was taken up by reading in our bungalow, lingering over long lunches, and napping by the pool, we were eager to explore the surprisingly robust list of things to do on such a tiny island, as well.
Of course, as two hiking addicts, we couldn’t resist tackling the around-the-island nature path where staff told us we might be lucky enough to run into the island’s shy family of deer. At 2.8km round trip, we thought it would be a breeze, but we actually worked up a decent sweat over the forty minutes it took us door to door from our bungalow. Along the way we found secluded beaches, gorgeous outlooks, and an encyclopedia worth of flora. My favorite moment? A bird song that was so beautiful we stopped in our tracks just to listen to every last note. I’ve never heard anything like it.
One of the nice things about Telunas Private Island is that kayak and stand up paddle board rentals are free — so if you’re splitting your time between the beach resort and private island like we were, save your paddling adventures for the island.
The water surrounding Telunas are stunning, and we loved paddling out to and around our bungalow from the beach.
I was dying to kayak around the whole island, too, but due to time constraints and considering how hard it was to stand up paddle with my bum shoulder, we decided against it.
Now, question for my fellow GoPro travelers — how do you keep your case from fogging and get clear images?! I feel this is the one piece of camera equipment that I’ve yet to really master. Which is a shame, because it’s perfect for paddle-based adventures like this one!
Hiking and stand up paddleboarding are two of my favorite things ever, but I have to admit that what I was most excited about at Telunas Private Island was visiting its unique, over-water spa. After exactly zero minutes spent debating, Ian and I decided to splurge on the two hour Telunas Body Ritual package, which included a Balinese massage, a salt body scrub, and a milk body mask.
At IDR 1,200K or $84USD per person, I found it very reasonably priced, considering the level of luxury, and I even bought a mango vanilla body butter made at Telunas to remind me of our melt-worthy afternoon of bliss.
It was unanimous — we agreed that in all our spa-seeking world travels, this was the most visually stunning spa we’d ever visited. I felt like I was floating every time I walked between our little treatment hut and the outdoor shower where we rinsed off the scrub and then the body mask.
I’m kind of glad we waited until our last day to go here, or I would have been tempted to make an appointment for every single day of our trip.
As we did at Telunas Beach Resort, we reveled in having no wifi. While I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic, I often feel guilty when I’m not “being productive,” and disconnecting removed the temptation to just sneak in a few moments of work here and there.
Ian and I laughed over the idea that ten years ago, a resort like this would be proud to offer cable and wifi. These days, it’s a bigger draw that they don’t have either.
Many of you were shocked by how affordable Telunas Beach Resort rates can be. While the Private Island is a step up in luxury, I believe it also represents incredible value compared to what you would pay for similar over-water accommodation elsewhere in the world. Rooms start at IDR 2950K or $206US per day, plus IDR 850K or $60US per adult per day for the compulsory meal package and IDR 850K or $60 per adult for transfer from Sekupang.
I think Telunas Private Island would be a magical place for a laid-back honeymoon, a romantic getaway combined with a trip to Singapore, or a peaceful retreat for families or friends. Or, our dream idea? Renting out the entire private island for a wedding, family reunion or epic friendcation!
We loved getting to check out both properties — I’d recommend at least a night or two at Telunas Beach Resort followed by at least two or three nights at Telunas Private Island. Mid-week stays will be much more chilled, while weekend stays will likely have more buzz and more planned activities. If you’re looking for specific adult-only dates, check the calendar. But no matter how long you stay or when, chances are you won’t want to leave.
This trip was a reminder that for me, heaven is a small island with no wifi and my favorite person.
I am so grateful for technology and all that it has brought to my life — including my career creating digital travel content! And yet a few times a year, I crave a trip that involves going completely off the grid and seeing what happens when I let work and the constant nagging of a pinging phone completely melt away for a couple of days. And I can’t think of a more beautiful place to do so than Telunas. Hopefully, this won’t be my last trip.
What do you think? Do you crave the occasional log off like I do? Where do you go to escape?
This post was written by me (duh!) and brought to you by Telunas Private Island. As usual, I maintain full editorial control and all thoughts, opinions, and photographs are my own.