A brief travel guide to Tioman Island, Malaysia
The perfect quick getaway
Blessed with miles of soft white sand, mesmerising turquoise waters and swaying palm trees, Tioman Island may seem like the destination for a relaxing beach holiday; and it is except that it also doubles as the kind of place adventure-seekers would love. Enjoy the sea breeze and indulge in the adrenaline—you can get the best of both worlds. We recently headed there for a special episode of Buro Tries (stay tuned!) and here's what we uncovered on our short trip.
GETTING TO TIOMAN ISLAND FROM KL
We drove down the North-South highway, past Yong Peng and Kluang towards Mersing to the Tanjong Gemuk jetty, where we boarded the Berjaya Tioman resort ferry. The drive takes an average of 4.5 hours, and the ferry takes 2 hours to get to Tioman from Tanjong Gemuk jetty.
While there is a shorter route to get to Tanjong Gemuk jetty via Hulu Langat, past Muadzam Shah and Kuala Rompin, be prepared for single lane roads with large trucks, lack of street lamps and rest stops.
WHERE TO STAY
Boasting the island's only 18-hole golf course, Berjaya Tioman Resort is a beachfront property a few minutes drive from Tekek Village that's perfect for families and large groups. The resort offers a range of spacious chalets and suites done up in traditional Malay-style that dot the sprawling property. In the evenings, be sure to head to the beach bar and order up a couple of cocktails while you catch the spectacular sunset views. Just a few minutes out from the beach lies Renggis Island, one of the most popular dive sites this side of Tioman, which also makes for great snorkelling.
An eco-luxe resort accessible via the Mersing Jetty, Japamala Resort by Samadhi was designed to combine the best of both worlds: the rainforest and the sea. The rooms are built around the natural landscape and are divided into three categories: wooden houses, hillside sarangs and beachside villas. Affiliated with Tioman Dive Centre, you'll be able to do a variety of dives here such as the PADI Scuba Diver Courses and Adventure Dives. Otherwise, take part in their boat excursions and jungle treks to either the nearest village or a romantic sunset view point (they'll even serve you cocktails, wine, champagne or drinks).
THINGS TO DO
Located on the southern end of Tekek Village, within Swiss Cottage Tioman is Tioman Dive Centre. The house reef teems with a rich variety of fish and coral—we came across two Blacktip reef sharks at just 6-7m deep. The dive shop is also the island's only Reef Check-certified facility. If you fancy freediving, Freedive Tioman is also based here, or you can head to Scuba Ace located just opposite the Tioman Marine Park that also offers freedive lessons.
Offering full equipment rentals and a splendid view of the aquatic life, the Tioman Marine Park is an especially good place to do snorkelling and other water-based activities. You can even feed some of the fishes underwater and the place hosts a rather amazing turtle population. If you're travelling with kids, head to Salang Beach where the low tides make it a safe place for them to snorkel and the abundance of clown fish in the area will surely pique their interest (Finding Nemo, kids?).
Legend has it that Tioman Island is the final resting place of a dragon princess who turned changed her form to provide shelter to passing travellers. Most visiting seasoned trekkers would embark on a three-day hike to her 'crown' atop the summit of an extinct volcano called Gunung Kajang (1038m). There are waterfalls and lush flora and fauna (including the rare mouse deer) to be admired along the way. An alternative option is the Asah Waterfall Trek to the island's southern tip where it's said to be one of the best natural gems on the island.
WHERE TO EAT
Sunset Corner ABC Tioman serves up freshly made pizza right smack on the beach. Located at the edge of Air Batang Village (or more fondly known as ABC), you can also walk to this laidback restaurant on the beach from the Tioman Marine Park—simply follow the pedestrian bridge by the rocks and you'll find Sunset Corner at the other end.
If you're craving Thai food, try Matahari Restaurant at Berjaya Tioman Resort. Top picks include the tom yum and green curry chicken. The hotel also caters to special occasions, where an outdoor cabana is decorated with flower petals and candles.
Tioman Cabana's Food & Bistro in Tekek Village is another great option for a wide variety of both local and Western favourites. Try their homemade burgers or have a seafood barbecue right on the beach.