Synopsis
Pulau Tioman ("pulau" means island in Malay) is about half-a-day's journey from Singapore and is a delightful, tropical island.

How much time you will need: At least 3 days 2 nights. If you like a laid-back, quiet getaway, or take up a diving course, you may want to consider 5 to 7 days.

What we thought of it: A laid-back place to unwind and relax. It’s also a fantastic place to snorkel & dive.
Location
Country: Malaysia

Distance from Singapore: To Mersing - 130 km. From Mersing to Tioman Island - 32 km.
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Page created on 29 Oct 2008
Page last modified on 20 Mar 2010

Review
Designated a marine park, Tioman Island is one of top places in the world for diving and snorkeling. The waters around the island are shallow, making the corals easily accessible to most people, including children. With the aid of a life vest, you don't even have to be a good swimmer to enjoy the tropical fish and corals.
Development has been slow on the island. Although it only takes about 1 hour to go around the island by boat, land accessibility between villages and resorts is by footpaths and treks. Backed by two twin peaks - steep rock outcrops, the villages and resorts are found mainly on the western and south-western coast of the island.
The accommodation on the island ranges from simple basic chalets to resorts. Those who like comfort can stay at the only hotel and golf resort on the island. Basic chalets are plentiful on the island. Recent years have also seen a rise in the number of eco-friendly, boutique resorts on private beaches.
Your choice of accommodation and location depends very much on your interests and budget. Snorkeling and diving trips are available at all locations. Other activities such as angling, canoeing, jungle-trekking to the waterfalls, etc, are offered by some chalets and resorts.
If your criteria are to spend a few days undisturbed, walking along the sandy beach, sun tanning with the occasional dip in the clear sea waters and are not too particular about comfort or choice of food, Kampung Juara ("kampung" means village in Malay), the only village on the eastern coast, is the place to go.
It has the best beach, some corals and offers basic chalet-type accommodation. Juara Village is accessible by boat transfer from one of the bigger villages on the western coast, a 4WD drive or a two-hour hike from Kampung Tekek.
The main village is Kampung Tekek where the island's only airport, police station, clinic, etc, are located. The Marine Park Centre is also located here, at the northern end of the village, where you can find out more about the marine life around Tioman. Visitors to Kampung Tekek have a choice of chalets or the hotel and golf resort, which is actually on the next bay, south of Tekek and accessible by the only road on Tioman. The northern end of Tekek is rocky whilst the southern end is sandy beach.
A good safe place for snorkeling especially for children is at Salang Village. The corals and one of the best beaches on Tioman is at the southern end, in front of one of the chalet accommodation. A footpath connects the chalets, cafes, dive centres, souvenir shops, mini-marts from one end of the village to the other end.
A similar village is Air Batang Village, also known as ABC Village, where there are plenty of chalets and resorts. Catering mainly to group visitors are Genting and Paya Villages.
Other than marine life, look out for other wild life on the island. There’s plenty of monitor lizards, especially at Salang Village, some as long as 2 meters. Monkeys (macaques) are as mischievous as ever, so do look out for your food and small items. See if you can spot the less common turtles, large squirrels, kingfishers, mousedeers, flying foxes, etc.

Things to Do
  • Snorkeling - Go on a half-day trip to Coral Island (Pulau Tulai) which includes stops at other places where there are beautiful corals and colourful fish, as well as the Marine Park Centre where the fish are quite different and friendly. Most, if not all, accommodation can arrange for the snorkeling trip. Also check out the house reefs at Salang Village.
  • Diving - If you dive, take diving trips arranged by the dive shops. If you don't, take up a diving course or try out the discovery dive which is a taster of what diving is like.
  • Jungle-trekking - You can trek 4 km from Salang Village through the deserted beach at Monkey Bay and another 4 km to Air Batang Village and finally about 250m to Tekek Village (total of about 4 hours) . You can also trek 7 km from Tekek Village to Juara Village on the eastern coast (about 2 hours). Or you can trek about 2 km from Mukut to Asah Waterfall (about 1 hour), the largest waterfall on Tioman.
  • Fishing - Fishing trips can be arranged by most places.
Tips
  • Be prepared for basic simple lifestyle on an island where no one is in a hurry.
  • Arrive early at Mersing as the ferry to Tioman leaves around lunchtime. If you can, book return ferry tickets in advance.
  • Allow sufficient time for the ferry trip back at Mersing.
Things to Bring
Clothing – t-shirt, shorts, towel, swimsuit, swim shawl, sandals/slippers, etc.

Snorkel gear (can be rented from snorkel/dive operators)

Dive gear (can be rented from dive operators)

Reading material

Prescriptive medicine (note that there is no pharmacy on the island), motion sickness medicine

Accommodation
There are plenty of chalets ranging from basic to not-so-basic ones on Tioman, a few resorts that are more up-market and one hotel. All chalets, resorts and hotel operate from March to October. Only a few resorts and the hotel are open all year round. Check with your choice of accommodation before you go.

Best Time to Go
From March to October when the water is calm. Between November and February, the monsoon season will bring high waves and plenty of rain.

Costs
Marine Park Fees – RM 5 per adult, RM 2 per child age 6 to 12 years old, RM 2 per senior citizens age 55 years and over, and free for children under 6 years old. It is compulsory to pay the marine park fees before you board the ferry to Tioman.

Ferry – One way costs RM 35 per adult and RM 30 per child (3 to 12 years old). You can buy one-way tickets first and buy the return at the accommodation on Tioman or on board the return ferry itself.

Day snorkeling trips – Ranges between RM 70 to RM 100 per person, depending on the type of trip.

Diving trips – Ranges from RM 65 for a beach dive to RM 160 for 2 boat dives including lunch.

Diving course – Ranges from RM 150 for Discovery Beach Dive to RM 1,500 for PADI Divemaster.

Food – About RM 30 per person at local restaurants to RM 60 per person for buffet dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Accommodation – Ranges from RM 70 for a double fan room in basic chalet, RM 250 for double air-con room in mid-range chalets and more than RM 1,000 at boutique resorts and hotel.

How to Get There
By Air - Berjaya Air flies from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to and from Tioman Island.

By Ferry - Take the ferry to Tioman from Mersing or Tanjung Gemuk. It takes about 2 hours from Mersing and 1.5 hours from Tanjung Gemuk. The ferry times are usually in the late mornings to noon, depending on the tides.

You can buy ferry tickets on the spot at Mersing, Tanjung Gemuk or Tioman, subject to availability. However, it is highly recommended to call ahead to book your tickets to and from Tioman.
Bluewater Express (Speed Ferry)
Tel: +60 7 799 4811 or +60 7 799 8518
Fax: +60 7 799 5696

By Car - Drive to Mersing (nearer to Singapore / Johore Bahru) or Tanjung Gemuk (nearer to Kuala Lumpur / Kuantan). Takes about 2.5 hrs to drive to Mersing and 3 hrs to Tanjung Gemuk. Park the car at their overnight car parks that are guarded. Take the ferry to Tioman.

By Bus – There are 2 to 3 bus companies that travel between Singapore and Mersing, more between Kuala Lumpur or Johore Bahru and Mersing / Tanjung Gemuk. Take the ferry to Tioman.