By George Morgan-Grenville
Tucked away in a beautiful cove on Moyo Island, Indonesia
, is the utterly heavenly Amanwana
. Moyo is an almost deserted island of great beauty that sits directly across the Flores Sea to the east of Lombok, sandwiched neatly between the mighty jaws of Sumbawa.
Part of the fun is getting there and when conditions are right, the sea plane takes off from Bali and lands an hour later directly in front of the resort. Depending on which pier is used, guests are met by a team of smiling Aman staff who have somehow managed to memorise everyone’s name prior to arrival. Vintage Toyota jeeps painted in military green stand waiting for the five minute transfer through the jungle to the resort.
The Amawana is no ordinary resort. The rooms are tents constructed of canvas, wood and glass. In fact, the term ‘marquee’ might be a more apt description. Each one is huge with enormous double beds, sitting area and fully equipped bathroom. Better still, a large fan is suspended from the roof and if that is not enough, two air conditioning units keep the tent at a perfect temperature. Positioned around a long bay, the journey from the tent to the sea is a matter of yards, crossing a white sand beach en route into the warm, aquamarine waters of the Flores Sea.
The accusation has been levelled that small island resorts can sometimes suffer from a lack of activities other than swimming and sunbathing. Not the Amanwana. Quite apart from the well- equipped dive centre (that said, enriched air qualified divers should note that Nitrox is not available), Aman have done what they always do – find an array of interesting local expeditions and activities. Perhaps the best of these is the Jungle Waterfall expedition, set deep into the vast National Park. A short speed boat ride to a local village finds another green jeep locked up in a wire cage. There follows a drive along a staggeringly bumpy, volcanic rock strewn track, through gorgeous and verdant paddy fields and cashew nut plantations before arriving at the National Park boundary. It is then a short walk through a forest of teak and giant fig trees to one of the most beautiful rivers imaginable, a torrent of turquoise coloured water cascading over a series of waterfalls. Deep enough to swim in (and even dive off the waterfall) it is an oasis of calm and the river itself remarkably warm. Of course, the ever thoughtful staff have ensured a full picnic is brought along complete with delicious fruit juices, banana bread and chocolate brownies.
Food is an important component and for a remote island resort, it is always excellent and served by the most attentive and lovely staff imaginable. Breakfast is a la carte and lunch / dinner a choice of two (western and Indonesian) starters, mains and puddings. There is an excellent pastry chef and delicious assorted breads always accompany every meal. The Indonesian chicken soup is to die for as is the fried banana pudding, so good we had to order it again and again as a special order.
For those who like diving, there are numerous stunning dive sites (almost exclusive to the resort) with remarkably good coral formations and a wide variety of fish. Crucially there are enough instructors that no one ever has to dive as a group and each dive is tailored to an individual, couple or family. Parrot, Angel, Lion and Scorpion fish, Napoleon Fish, the normal suspect eels, Eagle Rays and White Tipped Sharks are all resident. Dives can be done straight off the pier or by boat from the outer reef. The service is impeccable and all equipment is prepared in advance so it is just a matter of stepping into your BCD and diving. Full PADI courses can be run for novice and advanced divers. A lovely touch is having disembarked the dive boat, a secret switch operates a hidden shower in a cliff overhang and fresh water pours down from on high. Snorkelling equipment, hobie cat and windsurfers are also available. Deep sea fishing boats can be rented, children can have their hair braided in the spa, sand castle building kits abound and for a real treat, during the season (Nov-Mar) it is possible to watch the turtles hatching from the beach.
All in all a delightful experience. The downside? Very little but for those who take their make-up seriously, the vanity units suffer from very poor lighting which also goes for the bed side reading lights. Technically Moyo is also designated as part of a malaria zone but nobody seems to bother taking pills – the assistant manager said he had been there for 15 years and had never contracted it. I was there at the end of the rainy season and never saw a mosquito.
Finally, here’s the secret. The best time to go by far is May. The rainy season is over, the main season hasn’t started, the jungle is still verdant and the waters are clear, calm and warm. If that is not possible, it remains fabulous until the end of October.
George Morgan-Grenville is CEO at Red Savannah.