Mention Batam in Indonesia and most would think of seafood, shopping, spa, sun and sex. But a trip to Batam also ticks all the boxes for a quick experiential getaway: environmental tour, good food and great weather.

Located in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, Batam is just a one-hour ferry ride away from Harbourfront Singapore. The island has its own set of famous tourist attractions and hidden gems – making it an ideal quick getaway from city life to recharge.

So ditch your trusted old itinerary as you look no further than our 24-hour insider’s guide on What To Do in Batam – the lesser known parts of the island.

Hop on a vessel for a mangrove eco-tour

Indonesia has the world’s largest area of mangrove forests stretching over 3.5 million hectares. Despite this, they are under constant threat due to human activities.

During the 1970s, mangroves used to occupy some 24% of the overall island of Batam, while today that figure is just 4%.

The Barelang Bridge is a series of six bridges that connect the islands of Batam, Rempang, and Galang, Riau Islands built in 1997.

Importance of mangroves

Mangroves help to absorb greenhouse gases, protect coastlines, provide timber, plant products and fish to rural communities; mangroves are critically important for the health of coastal habitats.

They perform essential ecosystem services such as nutrients and water cycling, mangroves act like a natural wastewater treatment center to improve coastal water quality by improving sedimentation and filtering out toxins before they reach the sea.

Sadly, consumer demands from developed countries has indirectly contributed to this destruction of the mangroves.

Orang laut (sea people) was part of Singapore’s history but not seen anymore. Sea gypsy families live on coastal island across the channel in Batam where they use traditional traps to supply food to the island.

Mangrove wood drying for charcoal making. Photo courtesy of DFS.

Replanting of rhizophora shoots. Photo courtesy of DFS.

To book yourself a mangrove eco-tour, visit Eco Tours, a nature and adventure activity specialist based in Singapore. Licensed tourist guides from Singapore will bring you around to show the fauna and flora in Southeast Asia.

Batam is a food lover’s paradise

The island is home to many cafes, restaurants, bars and bakery that serve local and international delights.

But if you stick to where the locals eat, you will find plenty of delicious local food. For this trip, we were lucky to have a well-known Indonesian influencer, Chandra, famously known as Batamliciouz who introduced insider tips on the island’s popular food and drinking spots.

Kopak Jaya 007 – Seafood Kelong Restaurant

From sea to table, the family owned Kopak Jaya 007 is a seafood restaurant propped up by stilts. Located in Kampung tua Tiangwangkang – Barelang, just 300 metres before Barelang Bridge, expect fresh seafood out of the waters of the kelong, sea view dining, and a sarong to snooze in after a feast.

Salted Egg Crab.

Salt and Spicy Fried Sotong.

Among the dishes we tried – Kopak Jaya Steamed FishSalted Egg CrabBlack Pepper CrayfishDrunken PrawnsSteamed Scallops with GarlicGong GongSalt and Spicy Fried SotongStir fry Kailan with AnchoviesGarlic Fried Chicken – the Mozzarella Crayfish was a personal favourite for some of us.

Mozzarella Crayfish.

Not overcooked, therefore the flesh was not dry, tough and flavourless. Instead, succulent grilled crayfish flesh with melted mozzarella cheese all over.

Address: Kampung TiawangkangBatam, Riau, Indonesia
Call: +62 812-1378-007

Acia Ikan Bakar – A street style food court experience

One of the three Ikan Bakar Acia eateries in Batam is located along Batam Park’s open-air food court offering Indonesian BBQ fish, squid and stir-fried local greens at very affordable prices.

Our meal here was an endless parade of local dishes from Ikan Makarel Bakar (barbecued mackarel), Ikan Bakar Manis Pedas (barbecued fish with sweet spicy marinade) to personal favourites Chakue Campur (black carrot cake with flat noodles and yellow noodles) and Chakue Otah (black carrot cake with Otah, grilled fish cake).

Chakue Otah.

Ikan Makarel Bakar.

Chakue Campur.

Address: Kompleks Batam Park Blok D No. 29-30, Batam, Indonesia
Call: +62 0812-700-2807

Stay at Radisson Golf & Convention Center Batam

This hotel is nothing short of opulent and surrounded by lush greeneries. Don’t be put off by its name assuming it only caters to golfers and business executives. It’s adjacent to 18-hole Sukajadi championship golf course, in case golf enthusiasts must know.

Located just 20 minutes from Batam Center ferry terminal, Radisson Golf & Convention Center Batam is family friendly as it has a range of activities to entertain the children at Kid’s Club, archery corner to try your hands at hitting the bull’s eyes and even swimming classes for toddlers and adults.

Looking straight from the hotel entrance, I jumped a little when I caught a glance of  the greeneries and the infinity pool. Looking to the right and left, the sights of Batam Centre were equally inviting just as well as the indoor pool located on the 10th floor.

A good night’s rest, thanks to Radisson.

Singapore-Batam Center, via Harbourfront Singapore

Take a ferry from Singapore Cruise Centre at Harbourfront terminal. Majestic Fast Ferry’s newest ferry, the Majestic Dream is one of the three ferry operators that will take you directly to Batam Centre ferry terminal. A round trip cost about $49 per adult.

An exclusive tour of the private upper deck on Majestic Dream ferry. Right across is Singapore.

Newly revamped DFS at Singapore Cruise Centre’s Harbourfront terminal

Before your weekend escapade to recharge in Batam, after check in, head straight to the cocktail and whiskey tasting bars located at the departure gate. Here you can sample from a range of whiskies or indulge yourself in a cocktail (or more!) made from various spirits on promotions for free. The revamped DFS at Harbourfront terminal also includes a section on beauty and confectionary.

Photo courtesy of DFS.

Launch of the revamped DFS at Singapore Cruise Centre’s Harbourfront Terminal.

This writer’s trip was hosted by DFS Group.