Getting To And Visiting Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Tioman Island (Pulau Tioman in Malay) is located off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia. In the 1970’s, the Time Magazine selected it as one of the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world.
Tioman has a lot of character. It has villages, a small airport, seaside resorts, but it is still mostly wild. As you approach it by sea, you can’t help feeling like you actually are approaching the island seen in The Lost World. It is quite mountainous, and covered with a thick jungle. Its coast is sometimes made of huge boulders, sometimes made of colorful beaches.
The main village on the island is Tekek, and it is where the small airport runway is. This airport is served by the small planes of Berjaya Air, linking the island to Subang Airport near Kuala Lumpur. At the time of my trip to Tioman (2011), the island was also linked to Singapore (I took that flight to leave the island) but it seems that it’s no longer the case.
However, the most popular way to reach the island, especially when backpacking, remains the ferry that you take from the town of Mersing.
When I arrived at the jetty, I hadn’t booked anything on the island, just like the majority of tourists who were there. We had to queue to see with travel agents , to decide what accommodation we will choose in what village on the island. We were explained that once it has reached the island, the ferry hops from village to village, so you’d better know where to get off beforehand… So in that place you actually buy your whole package, including the ferry ticket to Tioman Island plus your accommodation on the island.
I chose to stay in Panuba Bay, a little randomly, as it sounded good enough judging from what the travel agents had told me. It was indeed very nice. Small wooden chalets on the hill with a view to the sea.
From there, a path through the jungle leads to the orange sands of Monkey Beach. The name Monkey Beach comes from the fact that a group of orange-eyed monkeys live in the area, and can easily be spotted along the seashore. I also encourage you to go there with a kayak that you can rent at the hotel. Really cool experience.
From Panuba Bay, Another path leads to a village called ABC. The main village of Tekek is just a short boat ride away.
If you like hiking, a path crosses the island from Tekek to Juara, on the east coast of Tioman. When you reach Juara, you will be rewarded by beautiful coconut palms plantations and two long beaches. There is also a road that connects the two villages.
The snorkeling at Tioman Island is very good. The coral reefs are accessible and in the water the visibility is pretty good. Be prepared to spot many shapes of corals, parrot-fish, sea turtles… If you are into scuba diving, Tioman will also be your paradise.
I had a really enjoyable time on Tioman Island, and I think the hotel I chose a little randomly at the beginning turned out to be a good option. However, If you are looking for a more luxurious island gateway, you should check out the Berjaya Hotel near Tekek.