is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.


Ratua Private Island started working its magic on us even before we arrived on its shores. Late at night we jumped on a speedboat from the mainland at Espiritu Santo, and as we shot across the glassy black waters, phosphorescence sparked out beside us like glittering confetti. In the morning we woke with the sun in our 200-year-old Javanese bungalow, one of ten scattered throughout the island, with the waters of the South Pacific gently lapping at the shore of our private beach just 20 metres from our door.

We’d been craving space to breathe, relax, and come back to ourselves after a particularly intense year. Ratua was the perfect place to do it, and in impeccable style too. Our bungalow had no TV, AC or even glass in the windows but was the epitome of barefoot luxury, decorated with tasteful antiques gathered from the owner’s travels around the world. We spent our days snorkelling with sting rays, tropical fish and the giant turtles that the area is famed for, kayaking to remote blue holes, indulging in massages at the over-water spa bungalow, and riding and swimming with the island’s gorgeous horses.

And the best part about it all was that Ratua is 100 percent not-for-profit, set up by a French billionaire five years ago to give back to the health and education of the communities in the neighbouring islands. So we could rest easy that our tourism dollar was going to the right place, in a country that as a whole really needed it post-Cyclone Pam. We left feeling brand new, alive and relaxed in a way we couldn’t have imagined when we left home.

Hopefully a little of the magic comes through in this video, and will inspire you to visit this tiny slice of heaven one day soon.



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