One of my favourite adventures, also happens to be our first one as parents.
When the girls were just 9 months old, we decided to take them on a trip half way around the world to a desert island eco retreat, known as Nikoi Island. In hindsight it was a brave, perhaps slightly naive manoeuvre, but our friend had been a carpenter on the build and we had followed progress via social media, we were so excited at the prospect of the experience, and the challenge of doing it with our new little daughters in tow, at best, it would be the holiday of a lifetime, at worst, character building (turns out it was both, but more on that later).
Two flights, one ferry, one taxi and one speedboat ride later, we arrived on Nikoi Island. A beautiful, and almost self sufficient island that uses solar power to provide hot water and grows much of its own produce too, with the rest being sourced from local markets and small traders, Nikoi truly is a unique, and remote island getaway. All of the accommodation, including the communal areas like the restaurant and bar, are made from beautiful driftwood (largely unvarnished in an attempt to minimise the use of paints and man made materials like glass and concrete on the island) collected from surrounding areas, (the main dining tables are a mightily impressive huge single length of wood) an important aspect to Nikoi’s approach to responsible tourism has been to ensure they not only help protect the environment but where possible help to restore it, this is done not only on the island, but in marine conservation too. The island is ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs, with beautiful native fauna occupying majority of the island, and in the middle, it rises to 30m above sea level where the island has its very own rain forest.
There are no rules, signs or notices on the island, instead guests make their own rules, respecting the island and the staff, and dictating their stay at their own pace, creating a truly laid-back vibe. Interaction with staff and other guests is low key and genuine, on a totally human level, it couldn’t be further from the ‘resort’ experience that lots of ‘family friendly’ holidays offer. Huge iguanas roam around, along with other exotic wildlife which certainly adds excitement to breakfast time!
There is a real sense of freedom on Nikoi, where nothing is too much trouble for the lovely staff who seem genuinely pleased to be there and proud to be part of the unique ‘crusoe luxe’ experience. The food is a laid back but impressive, with a menu written out on a blackboard in the main dining area for the day ahead, luxuriously presentated but in a family atmosphere, with long fruity drinks and sand amongst your toes. For allergies or dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian), they are more than happy to do you a separate version of the daily dishes on offer. I had the best tempeh I’ve ever had there, they rustled up the girls some fruit and vegetable puree at every meal, and homemade snacks and fruits were available at the bar throughout the day. The girls had their first ever fresh coconuts during our stay (literally straight from the tree with a re-useable bamboo straw in) and it is also where they began their obsession with gnawing on lemon, orange and lime slices (which they still love now!)
Our days were spent by the pool or on the veranda of our villa. We also took the opportunity to go “off road” and explore the island on foot. It really feels like you have the island to yourself as the number of guests is strictly limited (consequently Nikoi gets booked up months in advance) and there are plenty of areas to explore that are completely untouched. I would love to go back to Nikoi when the children are a little older and more robust against the intense heat (we went in May and it was hot, hot, HOT!)
For toddler age children and above there is loads to explore and do, and there are always staff on hand to get involved and show you parts of the island or guide you with activities like kayaking, or a picnic boat trip to a nearby deserted island.
On a personal level, being a new parent I think I just assumed that having a holiday would be relaxing, what I had forgotten to factor into account was that when you take your babies on holiday, you are still their caregiver, and Alex and I laugh now at the fact we took books with us, and poolside accessories (what was I thinking!?). Factor in the travel, and the heat and it was exhausting, I needed a holiday to recover – but that was purely because of our over ambitions, I couldn’t fault the experience of Nikoi one bit.
Towards the end of that trip we visited some nearby islands (backpacking with baby twins, definitely character building!) and ended with a few days stay in Singapore before the long flight home to London and then onwards to the Isle of Man. We love travelling, adventures enrich life, there is so much of the world I want to explore and its something I want to do more of as the children become more ‘manageable’ (that is a word I use with love… But we are outnumbered now after all!), plus living in the Isle of Man means we do a lot of it, but I have found its not always easy finding a vegan friendly skin and haircare brand that comes in mini, luggage-friendly sizes. Some great news though, one of my favourite ethical beauty brands, Green People, now do travel sized versions of some of their best products, including…
- Gentle Cleanse & Make Up Remover
- Vita Min Fix Moisturiser
- Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30
- Organic Children’s Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30
- Sun Travel Collection (including Sun Lotion SPF30, Sun Lotion SPF15 with Tan Accelerator and Hydrating After Sun)
- Starter Pack
- Fruit Scrub
- Vita Min Fix
- Intensive Repair Shampoo
- Neutral Scent Free Shower Gel
- Sun Lotion SPF30
- Hair & Body Pack
- Quinoa & Artichoke Shampoo
- Quinoa & Artichoke Conditioner
- Quinoa & Calendula Shower Gel
- Quinoa & Avocado Hair Serum sachet
There are plenty of reasons why I love the Green People brand, from the certified organic products, ethical business practises (including sustainably sourced and fairly traded ingredients), no nasties or harsh chemicals which in turn makes them great for sensitive skin, recyclable packaging, supporting charities (10% of net profits are donated to deserving causes), and of course, being 100% Cruelty free, (certified by PETA and the Vegan society, all their products are only tested on human volunteers), with all of this AND amazing products, its easy to see why they have won over 160 awards won for their natural hair and skincare products.
To find out more about Nikoi, visit their website, their Facebook