Tioman island at the eastern coast of Malaysia is known for its amazing diving and snorkeling sites. It's a calm island where relaxing is easy.
It's for sure one of the islands you should add to your Must Visit list when in Malaysia. But, there are also other activities to enjoy. If you aren't looking for a party place and prefer rather a relaxed atmosphere where it's still not over-crowded, choose Tioman island. After a few days, I couldn't leave without admitting that I fell in love with this place. If I get the chance, I would love to return one day.
So, how did we hear about the island? Friends of ours told us about about Tioman a few months before we left for our round the world trip and we decided to visit it. Here are 10 reasons why I fell in love with Tioman island and why you probably will too.
Of course, number one is diving. You can choose from so many dive sites. We stayed at Kampung Air Batang (known as ABC beach). The bay has four dive schools from which you can choose (Eco divers, B&J, Blue Haven and Rays). We decided to do our dives with Eco Divers. After a great fun dive, we decided to do our Advanced Open Water certification with them and enjoyed it a lot.
My favourite spot was Sawadee wreck and KM Sipadan wreck which lie next to each other and are at a depth of 30 meters. There's a lot of marine life there. One of our instructor Ivan's favourites, apart from Sawadee wreck, is Last Frontier for coral. Here you can read more about the dive sites.
#2 Jungle trekking
From ABC we did two hikes. The good thing is, you don't need any guides for hiking. If you walk until the end of the bay (towards the north) you'll find a sign that says Monkey Bay. Keep on follow the track through the jungle and you'll arrive at this beautiful beach. If you're too tired to walk all the way back, there is a man at the beach who offers his boat as a taxi service. We walked there and back and it was no problem. Do not leave your bags unattended at monkey beach. As the name says, there are monkeys everywhere and as soon as they see an unattended bag, they come and try to open it or, even worse take the whole bag.
Another hike we did was from Tekek to Juara (to the other side of the island). The way there is pretty simple. Walk along ABC south until you reach the staircase. Walk up until you arrive in Tekek. Keep on walking straight until you come to a street which goes left towards the mosque. Follow it, passing the mosque on your left side until you reach the huge water tank. Walk around it and there you'll find a sign that says Juara beach and it will lead you into the jungle. There are a lot of stairs, but it's a great workout. The walk to Juara beach took us around 3 hours. We had lunch there, spent some time at the beach and left with a taxi that brought us back to Tekek.
Costs: 50 RM ($11.84) *convertion rate from 17/09/2015
Ok, I have to admit it. The ABC beach is not the prettiest one. But, there are many possibilites. You can go to other beaches for day trips or move to another bay after a few days. The island has lots of different kinds of beaches to offer. We saw this beach on the way to Monkey Bay.
#4 Water activities
Apparently, the diving on Tioman island is amazing. But, if diving is not your thing, there are still lots of other activities you can do. At Nordin's, you can rent out a Kayak and explore the coast on your own. Depending on the season, you can rent out a surfboard and go surfing at the east coast.y
I can highly recommend to do a snorkeling trip. We booked a full day snorkeling trip where they took us to six different places. One of them was the beach in the picture above. The places we went were amazing. So much coral, beautiful fish and we even saw a turtle!
Costs: 85 RM p.p. ($20.14) *convertion rate from 17/09/2015
On every boat tour we've been so far on our round the world trip, I always take my yellow dry bag with me and my stuff never gets wet!
#5 Happy hour at the beach
The best way to enjoy sunset on Tioman island is at the beach, either at jetty bar or at sunset bar at the south end of the beach, or simply sit in the sand on your own and watch this!
#6 Underwater world
As if I didn't mention it already, the underwater world on Tioman island is wonderful and the places are not as crowded as in some parts of Thailand for example. Depending on the dive school you go with, you might just be 3 people. Another big advantage is that you will be able to go out in small boats and to less crowded spots. The corals are marvelous and there are some opportunities to go wreck diving which was my personal highlight. It was also my first time I dove down 30 meters.
If you're not into diving but love snorkeling, you are also in for a treat. even when you go snorkeling along ABC bay you will see so many marine creatures. One day we saw several sting rays and an eagle ray (which we didn't even see diving).
#7 Tax free island
Tioman is a tax free island. Ok, so it's not a place where you can go to shop for clothes, but you can buy cheap food and liquor and even diving equipment in Tekek.
#8 Meet people from all over the world
On Tioman Islandwe met many travelers from around the world for the first time on our trip. There are not many bars, so you're likely to meet the same people again which is great for socializing. The dive schools are also another great opportunity to get to know people as they all come from all corners of the world. They are the ones who have such interesting stories to tell as they usually hop from one dive school to another across the globe. Take, for expamle, our dive instructor Ivan. He was from the UK and had previously worked in places like Vietnam and Brunei.
#9 Monkeys, monkeys, monkeys
We saw so many monkeys during our stay! Not only in Monkey Bay but all over the island. We saw them next to our accomodation, up in the trees or along the street. You won't leave Tioman without a picture of one of them, I promise.
#10 Perfect place to unwind
One of the reasons you might like Tioman as much as I did is because there are not a lot of tourists. Sure, there are some and most of them come for diving, but the whole setting is so relaxed. On ABC beach there are no cars at all, only motorbikes and bicycles. Because there are almost no shops, there's nothing to do if you don't want to. If you want to relax, do so. Ignore the kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and lie at the beach with a good book, relax and enjoy the quiet setting while listening to the sound of the ocean.
How to get there?
Either you take a bus from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Mersing and leave from there by ferry (book online in advance) to one of the beaches on Tioman Island. If you stay at ABC beach, some places are not online and they don't take phone reservations. We stayed at Nordin's chalet which is located in the middle of the bay and just next to Eco divers where we did our Advanced Open Water course. If you are unable to find lodging online, simply walk along the bay and you will find something easily.
Have you been to Tioman island or are you planning to visit Malaysia soon? Is there anything you would like to know?