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Watch out Maldives, here come Bawah Islands of Anambas Archipelago

August 30, 2009

By Dian Hasan | August 30, 2009

Bawah Islands-Riau Archipelago-links

If the names sound nothing more than Greek to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. The vast majority of people have never heard about them, let alone the divers, water-sports aficionados, private island real estate hunters, and resort developers.

But a quick glance at the jaw-dropping pictures of the natural beauty of these group of islands confirms – instantaneously – the potential they hold as a leisure destination. The Maldives used to look like this before transforming itself into a high-end world-class tropical destination. These pieces of nirvana on earth are to be found in Bawah Islands, within the Anambas Islands in the Indonesian Province of Riau Islands. A mouthful of island names, but the scenery they promise are simply out of this world!

Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-1Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-2Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-3Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-4
And the striking resemblance to The Maldives is amazing. Crystal clear waters, uninhabited islands, rich underwater corals and marine life, not too far from civilization (Singapore is 150 nautical miles to the south), palm-fringed white sandy beaches, lagoons, etc.
Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-5Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-6Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-7Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-8
The meaning is “Low Islands” in Indonesian, but there’s nothing low quality about the natural setting of these islands, the only relevance is probably the islands’ potential as a “low-hanging fruit” ripe for development consideration.

Bawah Islands within the Anambas Islands off Natuna Island in Riau Island Province, Indonesia. Photo: Andy Hoops

Bawah Islands within the Anambas Islands off Natuna Island in Riau Island Province, Indonesia. Photo: Andy Hoops

The Bawah Islands is a group of islands located at the southern end of the Anambas Islands approximately 150 nautical miles north-east from Singapore. The main island is 66 hectares and is surrounded by four smaller islands and a number of islets comprising 101 hectares of land in total. The islands are uninhabited with the nearest population 30 nautical miles away. There are coral reefs surrounding the islands that provide excellent opportunities to dive and there is a unique variety of marine life.
The islands surround three lagoons the largest of which is over 900m long. A shallow channel through the outer reef into the second largest of the lagoons offers protected deepwater anchorage. The highest point on the islands is 150m and provides a dramatic backdrop. The vegetation on the islands varies from coconut and palm trees to a dense jungle canopy on the upper slopes with many substantial trees providing a dramatic backdrop.
Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-9Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-10Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-11Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-12Bawah Islands-Anambas Islands-RIAU ARCHIPELAGO-13

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2009 8:06 pm

    I seriously doubt that Bawah Islands can compete with Maldives and Seychelles.

    • uniquetraveldestinations permalink*
      August 30, 2009 11:04 pm

      Hi Maldives Islands, ha.. ha.. at least I got your attention. I merely said “watch out”, suggesting that a development model fashioned after The Maldives’ commendable approach/strategy, could work for these Islands.

      I firmly believe competition is good. And as the world’s largest Archipelago, Indonesia is blessed with islands and little archipelagos strewn across the breadth and width of the nation that can potentially be developed into a new island travel destinations, just like The Maldives, Seychelles, or some islands in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

      Pls stay in touch. Good talking to you. ciao, dian

    • uniquetraveldestinations permalink*
      August 30, 2009 11:08 pm

      By the way, do let me know if you’d like any of unique resorts (there are TONNES!!) in both The Maldives and Seychelles featured in our blog. Much appreciated! ciao, dian

  2. November 25, 2009 4:16 am

    How can you claim these islands resemble the Maldives? They are nothing like them. The Maldives has no land mass more than 2m above high tide, and are usually singular plot of land mass. Bawah has hills 350 feet high, with multiple lagoons. This island group more closely resembles Tetiaroa, Tahiti [The Brando will open there in a few years]. I was there 6 months ago. see images at

    FYI – we are the designers to W Retreat & Spa Maldives and Anantara Kihava Villas Maldives [opening 2010] see Anantara at

    • uniquetraveldestinations permalink*
      November 27, 2009 9:00 pm

      Hi Ed, thanks for finding us! You do some AMAZING architectural and design work!!! BRAVO!! I’m fully aware that Bawah Island do not resemble the topography of The Maldives, I was merely pointing out their tourism potential. As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia naturally possesses some amazing untapped potential via its myriad of islands. And it baffles me that the government doesn’t understand enough about its own potential (but I shouldn’t dwell on what the government can do to promote Indo tourism, coz the intention AND budget is never really there to begin with!! ha.. ha…). And it’s up to the private sector to create amazing places (resorts & hotels) that will lure the world’s curious travelers!
      I know for a fact that the world’s niche travelers are already discovering and experiencing Indo in a very compelling manner, from Diving, Surfing, Birdwatching, Abseiling, Extreme Kayaking, to Gourmet Food Travelers, Steam Railroad Buffs, to Cultural Travelers and Batik lovers. It is, after all, the world’s last frontier of eco-wonder, 2nd after the Amazon (let’s hope it’ll be there long enough for everyone else to enjoy!).
      Pls check out our other blogs:,,, and
      ciao, dian (san diego)

  3. July 2, 2010 1:42 am

    I think it can and so does the Indonesian Department of Tourism. Nice story Nice information, Nice Pictures. I would like to hear more about your visit !


  1. Watch out Maldives, here come Bawah Islands of Anambas Archipelago … | maldivestoday

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