There are no outside restaurants or bars on any of the resort islands. This means precious little wandering up to the restaurant at 15:00 for a quick nasi goreng or down to the beach bar for a lazy gin and tonic at sunset.
While the reason is related to staffing levels and costs, the full board scene can be frustrating as a guest—especially when you’re stuck in a resort with dreadful food. There’s nothing quite like waking up and dreading breakfast when you’re supposed to be on holiday. The other negative effect of this system is that dropping into another resort may need some pre-planning, as they may start preparing the food early in the day, catering for a specific number of guests only.
On a positive note, servings tend towards the generously sized, with typically at least two dishes for lunch and three for dinner. While some resorts offer just rice and fish, fish and rice or some combination of the two, others offer a wider variety of food, so that those staying just a few days may never hit the same dish twice.
Vegetarians are sometimes not catered well for (other than simply removing fish from their serving). If you have specific dietary requirements, it is advisable to contact the resort beforehand to discuss—with some forewarning, kitchens can be quite accommodating, just bear in mind the food may be being purchased from a village a few hours away by boat.
Beer, bottled water, cigarettes, snacks and soft drinks are usually available but are relatively expensive (55,000-70,000 for a large Bintang, 40,000 rupiah for a packet of chips, 10,000-15,000 for a small Sprite, for example) so bring what you can if you are watching your pennies, or just skip the booze for your stay. Some places may not have any snacks at all; check in advance or BYO just in case (but lock up food at night as rats are an issue).
Rates charged for hosting children vary resort to resort. Some charge half price for age six and up, while at others the kids are free, with no clear policy of when they need to start paying.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.