Indonesia’s Bintan Island is known as a hub of calm and relaxation, yet there’s more to this sleepy island than first meets the eye. From private beaches to a breathtaking lantern park, here are the best things to do in Bintan.
Santa Maria Cave
Known locally as Grotto Santa Maria, this remote chapel is named for the statue of Saint Maria, which sits atop a nearby hill. The chapel provides a window to Bintan’s culture and heritage, and this tranquil spot offers solace and serenity whatever day of the week you choose to visit.
Banyan Tree Temple
The Banyan Tree Temple began life as a small shrine that was worshipped by Chinese locals. As time passed however, the original structure was surrounded by roots from a nearby banyan tree, which eventually enveloped the temple entirely. It’s now perhaps one of the most recognisable landmarks on the island, with the tree adding an air of mystery and intrigue to this otherwise humble shrine.
White Sands Island
Of course, no trip to Bintan Island would be complete without mentioning the white sand beaches this area is renowned for. White Sands Island is a true picture of paradise, with crystal clear waters and endless swathes of pristine white sands that stretch as far as the eye can see. A 15-minute boat ride from Bintan is all it takes to reach this picture-perfect private island.
Lagoi Bay Lantern Park
All other lantern displays simply pale into insignificance after a visit to Lagoi Bay. This jaw-dropping park features more than 20 gigantic animal replicas, with examples ranging from clown fish and octopus right through to the critically endangered Sumatran Elephant. Bursts of red, green and yellow light up the park by night to deliver a truly memorable display that both kids and adults are certain to love.
For the most part Bintan is a peaceful and secluded resort, yet Main Street is where the atmosphere really comes alive. Main Street is at the heart of Bintan’s shopping district, with independent vendors and authentic shophouses lining the streets to sell you all manner of traditional Indonesian goods, such as sugar cane and spices produced locally in the region.
You won’t be short of natural wonders to discover during your stay on Bintan Island, and the namesake Mount Bintan is one not to be missed. Hike up the rugged pathway that leads to the summit, standing 340 metres above sea level. A sturdy pair of walking boots is recommended, yet the sublime views of the island that are afforded to you once you reach the top are well worth the effort. You can also catch a glimpse of the beauty of the neighbouring Batam Island, over to Singapore and beyond.
500 Lohan Temple
The breathtaking 500 Lohan Temple is one of the most sacred sites across all of Bintan. This Buddhist monastery – or vihara – is best known for the 500 life-size sculptures which line the entryway to the garden. The statues are in fact of arhats, which translates to “one who is worthy”, and are a sight to behold thanks to their intricately sculpted features and uniquely defined characteristics.