After Singapore, my next destination was the Malaysian island of Tioman, off the east side of the country. I arrived to the ferry terminal just after 1:30 pm, missing the last ferry from the nearby port town of Mersing to Tioman. Apparently, during that season the last ferry is very early in the afternoon. However, ferries depart later from a town that is 30 minutes away and fortunately I was able to share the taxi ride with a Norwegian family. The ferry ride to the island takes around two hours.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting the island is that 95% of the place is dense jungle and the inhabited chunks can be a pricey ride away from one another. In particular crossing over from the west side (where the main dock and airport are located) to the east side (nicer quiet beaches) is a 30 minute plus ride in a four wheel drive vehicle going through significant mountainous terrain. I stayed on Juara beach which is really quiet but there are very few food options and pretty much everything closes between the hours of 2 pm and 6 pm. A second thing to be careful about is that the island is INFESTED with sandflies. I’ve never encountered these creatures before but they will absolutely destroy your legs if you’re within 200 metres of the beach. I would recommend bringing very strong insect repellant, the natural stuff is totally useless and is the only crap sold on the island.
I stayed at the Beach Shack on a nice stretch of beach. It has bigger rooms, two to a house along the front for about $40 CAD a night. I’d recommend getting a room on top because it helps with the sandflies. There are also cheaper much smaller little shacks one row of houses from the beach. I mostly ate at the hotel itself because there aren’t that many other food options around and the food there was both decent and cheap.
There isn’t all that much to do on the island aside from just sitting back and relaxing all day. There are a couple of decent bars on the beach, but the nightlife is pretty much non-existent. The bars are just places to sit and read over some beers. In the six days I was on the island I did go snorkeling one time and it was great and very cheap. I even saw a nurse shark swimming around which is a rare sight during the day, as well as some squid and a few turtles. If you are looking for a cheap place to scuba dive, this island is an excellent choice. I only discovered the cheap diving on my last full day in town so I didn’t take advantage of it, but if the quality of the snorkeling is any indication, the scuba diving should be pretty good.
Some shots around the island:
I’ll leave you with two shots from the snorkeling sites: