Don't be fooled by the name — Waterfront City is no city, it's a purpose-built tourist development home to two large hotels and not much else. Construction started in the 1990s with great hopes, but like many of Suharto's big projects, it never took off the way it was supposed and multiple failed developments still litter the area: the first thing you'll see as you exit the ferry terminal is the rotting carcass of Snow World, which lay uncompleted for years before burning down in 2006.
All that said, if you ratchet down your expectations very low, Waterfront City still makes a reasonably pleasant weekend getaway: the hotels are high-quality and affordable, there's just enough to keep you entertained for a day or two, and at night you can dig into cheap seafood and sample the nightlife. Batam as a whole is still growing fast and with Harris's recent expansion and the refurbished cable ski operation, there's even faint hope of a belated renaissance.
 Get in
Waterfront City Ferry Terminal, a striking Minangkabau-style construction with sharped pointed eaves, is a visa-on-arrival entry point for Indonesia. BatamFast  runs three ferries a day from Singapore's HarbourFront ferry terminal via Sekupang to Waterfront, taking about 70 minutes including the Sekupang stop. If you miss these, there are many more to Sekupang, from where it's a 15-km trip to Waterfront City.
 Get around
Hotel shuttle buses meet incoming ferries and offer sightseeing and shopping trips around the rest of the island. Within Waterfront City itself, most sites are within walking distance. If you'd like to go further out, there are usually taxis lurking in front of the cable ski park, but you'll need to haggle. Cabbies will ask for S$20 for the half-hour haul to Nagoya, but locals can negotiate that down to around Rp. 75,000.
[add listing] See
The beach at Waterfront City isn't much to look at: the water is murky and the views across the bay consist of oil industry installations. The Harris Resort has its own tiny slice, but the rest is within the Waterfront City Marina and an entry fee of Rp. 6000 is charged. Sea sports like banana boats and jetskis are available.
[add listing] Do
Other entertainment options include the ramshackle Step 1 Go Kart Circuit near the Harris (S$12/10 min) and Taman Pancing Fishing Pond. The Batam Flying Club closed down years ago.
[add listing] Buy
80% of the commercial shophouse block next to the ferry terminal is permanently closed, but some of the remaining shops sell drinks and snacks. For anything else, you'll need to head over to Nagoya.
[add listing] Eat
The shophouse block next to the ferry terminal has half a dozen low-key eateries, but only one has food that draws anything approximating a crowd:
There are also a couple of very basic warung next to the cable ski park.
The restaurants at both the Harris and the Holiday Inn offer air-conditioned comfort and charge Singaporean prices for the privilege.
[add listing] Drink
The normally comatose waterfront shophouse strip livens up after sundown, with half a dozen nightlife joints ranging from Western-style pubs to Chinese-style dodgy karaoke lounges.
[add listing] Sleep
Waterfront City has two large resort hotels. Both offer free shuttle service to the ferry terminal.
Some of the shophouse pubs also offer lodging in their upstairs rooms, mostly on a short-time basis.
 Get out