Forget luxury hotels and integrated resorts with free high-speed Wi-Fi. Going back to basics is the best way to bond with the family, and these kelongs let you do just that
It’s hard to tear ourselves – and especially the kids – away from gadgets these days. We can’t seem to get enough of them for both work and pleasure purposes. So why not go somewhere with no internet access or even fancy modern amenities, for a truly old-school holiday…on a kelong?
There are various kelongs within easy reach of Singapore where you can do this. We’ve listed five options below. As they’re obviously off-shore, remember to check for travel arrangements specific to each. Even better, send them detailed enquiries of anything you need to know before confirming your booking, so that you won’t be greeted with any unwelcome surprises. And bring a few books or even board games for back-up entertainment.
Blue Mountain Kelong
Blue Mountain Kelong is located on a small island off the southern coast of Batam. With over 50 acres to explore, kids will be kept busy, never bored. Activities here include fishing, swimming, snorkelling and trekking. Not everything requires physical effort though (phew!). You (read: overworked mums) can also indulge in some stargazing and even get a pampering massage. Too relaxed? Take a stroll through the nearby forest and beach trails, or board the in-house power boat to explore the waters beyond.
Stay Choose from a four-bedder with an en-suite bathroom or a family room with four bunk beds and two en-suite bathrooms. The kelong is open all year round and relatively sheltered from monsoons, so any time’s a good time to visit.
Don’t miss The eco-garden, orchard, and fish and vegetable farms, where kids can learn about how their food develops from seed to plate. Give the kids a taste of simpler days by bringing them to explore the nearby kampungs.
How to get there Take a ferry from Harbourfront to Batam Centre (70 minutes). You’ll be received and sent by car or van to Telaga Punggur Domestic Ferry Terminal (20 minutes), followed by speedboat to Blue Mountain Kelong (25 minutes).
Morelo Kelong Resort
Beautiful views of the sea and Insta-worthy sunsets are guaranteed at Morelo Kelong Resort. The peace and serenity you’ll experience here is perfect for recharging your batteries, while the kids get to explore the great outdoors. Take them fishing, have fun with water sports and explore the abundant marine ecosystem along the coast (you might even get to touch some marine life). Then get the whole family’s adrenaline pumping with an exhilarating banana boat ride. It is also the only place in Batam with an enclosed seawater swimming pool, so it’ll be hard to resist dipping in it throughout the day to get some respite from the heat.
Stay The kelong accommodation features traditional architecture and was built with locally sourced timber. Every room comes with six single beds, an en-suite bathroom and private balcony with a sea view.
Don’t miss Taking time out to explore the rainforest, especially since you’re away from the concrete jungle. There are several hill tracks that are ideal for short walks. The higher you go, the better the view of the beautiful surrounding sea.
How to get there Take a ferry from Singapore to Batam Centre, where your host will pick you up and drive you to the kelong by car, for another hour or so.
Looking for a truly authentic, old-school holiday? Then MoonBay Kelong is where you should go. Electricity is run by the kelong’s own private generator and the water used for bathing and washing comes from a well on the land. Don’t worry, the water is replenished daily by the staff. The best part is, once you book this kelong, you’ll be the only ones there. Book for a minimum of six persons – it accommodates up to 14 people – and you’ll have the whole place to yourselves. Bring the extended family along or pair up with your best friend’s family for a group holiday.
Stay Rooms are outfitted with single and double bunk beds, with modern toilets.
Don’t miss Fishing, of course. You’re on a kelong after all. Rent a kayak or boat to head out to sea, or just relax on the kelong’s deck and while a few hours away while your fishing rod does its job.
How to get there Take the Batam Fast Ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsapura Ferry Terminal Batam. The journey takes about 35 minutes, after which the kelong is a 10-minute land transfer away.
Labun Island Kelong
If your family is into loads of fun in the sun in the form of water-based activities, Labun Island Kelong is the place for you. On this private island, you can get an up-close look at the underwater attractions while having fun snorkelling or diving. Explore the surrounding waters in a kayak or a banana boat, or simply indulge in some family bonding while showing the kids how to fish. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll definitely be relaxed by the time you leave the premises.
Stay Modestly furnished but with all the basics covered, including en-suite bathrooms with modern toilets and showers. The rooms are also equipped with fans and air-conditioners.
Don’t miss A visit to Vietnam Village, a former Vietnamese refugee camp. It was built by Vietnamese ‘boat people’ who arrived at Galang Island in 1976 and occupied the village until 1995. Relics have now been converted into museums. View the Ngha Trang Memorial Wall and historical artefacts at Galang Museum.
How to get there Take the ferry from Harbourfront to Batam Centre, where you’ll be picked up in a car and driven to the main jetty (45 minutes). From there, a boat will take you to the kelong (20 minutes).
Chia Soon Kelong
This tranquil working kelong is located off Pasir Gogok, a fishing village situated southeast of Johor, behind Pulau Tekong. There’s not a lot to do here at Chia Soon Kelong, but that’s the whole point, right? Bring your own fishing equipment if you’d like to do some fishing. Otherwise, have some laughs with the karaoke set on the kelong or for something more competitive, why not teach the kids to play mahjong? Alternatively, bring your own travel-size board or card games and spend the day having some back-to-basics fun. Then welcome the night by admiring the beautiful sunset.
Stay It’s true kelong living, which means open-concept partitioned ‘rooms’ with mattresses and shared bathrooms. Note that a minimum of 12 people is required to make a booking here. Muster about 60 people and you can rent the entire kelong! It isn’t affected by the monsoon season as it’s in sheltered waters surrounded by islands. And no worries about safety either, as the nearby waters are regularly patrolled by coast guards from both Singapore and Malaysia.
Don’t miss Chia Soon seafood porridge, a must-try for all seafood lovers. Prepared with slices of barracuda, squid, prawn, and any other fresh catch, the porridge is wonderfully flavourful and comforting. You can also have a steamboat dinner and barbecue supper while you’re there!
How to get there Take a boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pengelih Jetty (about 75 minutes), the Malaysian customs/immigration post. Once you’ve got clearance, Chia Soon Kelong is just 20 minutes away by bumboat.
Header image: Michelle Teoh
Feature image: Morelo Kelong Resort