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Tioman Island, Malaysia

22 February 2011 6 Comments

Tioman Island, Malaysia

Located roughly a two hours boat ride away from Peninsular Malaysia is the island of Tioman, a popular tourist destination that needs little introduction. The island was listed as one of the top ten best islands in the world by Time magazine back in the 1970s; and judging from the number of tourists we met on our way there, it seemed that its charm was still going strong. Having said that, it is still somewhat located off the beaten track for most foreign visitors to the country, thus the island still largely retain its rustic kampong (village) feel.

Tioman Island, Malaysia

Clear turqoise water just off the shore

Getting to Tioman is relatively comfortable and hassle-free; there are options to complete the journey either by air or sea. The trip by ferry takes about an hour and a half, which can be taken from Mersing or Tanjung Gemuk. Transport can be easily arranged from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore through major bus companies or travel agents, who will also gladly help you arrange for a combo (bus + ferry) ticket. There are several firms running ferry services between Tanjung Gemuk and Tioman, we took one operated by Fast Ferry Ventures. Air transport is the more limited option. Berjaya Air, the only airline flying in and out of Tioman, does regular shuttle flights between Tioman, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Tanjung Gemuk Terminal

Tanjung Gemuk ferry terminal

Tanjung Gemuk terminal

Ferry to Tioman Island

Ferry ride to Tioman Island

There is no lack of accommodation on Tioman; the steady stream of tourists to the island has spurred the development of a number of hotels and resorts. Most of these are moderately priced; but more luxurious alternatives are also available to those who wish to stay in style and comfort.

Tioman is most famous for its good diving sites, reefs, and healthy marine life. The island is also well known for its beautiful white beaches and clear turquoise water. As such, most tourism activities on Tioman can be found along the coastline or in the surrounding waters. Ask the hotel if they can help to pre-arrange diving or snorkeling trips.

Boat charter at Tioman

A boat similar to the one we chartered

On our visit we chartered a private speed boat and did snorkeling at several sites. It may not be cheap, but was worth every dollar spent. The assortment of marine species was rather impressive; we spotted many types of fish from the tiny clownfish to larger ones that was up to a metre long. The fishes seemed to have gotten used to human presence, as they were not afraid to swim near us or take bread crumbs from our hands. Since the boat is literally ours for the day, we snorkeled at our own leisurely pace, and the boat’s captain (and only crew) was patient with us, explaining the little details of the dive sites; he even did a little diving of his own and picked up a sea cucumber to show us. For casual snorkelers like us however, there are some spots with rather strong currents. In these cases, the captain helped to give some assurance by directing us where exactly is safe to swim. A takeaway lunch on a secluded beach was also arranged as part of the day’s itinerary.

Tourist snorkeling boat at Tioman

One of the tourist dive boats

A cheaper alternative to renting your own boat is to join one of the bigger tourist boats. These can fit up to twelve passengers and will also bring you to several stops, including the Marine Park near the Tekek village. Note that the Marine Park is essentially a cordoned part of the sea where hundreds if not thousands of fishes are kept. It was so crowded with fishes that it was pretty impossible not bumping into them every few seconds, and the water was murkier than at any other dive sites we visited. Overall, we don’t recommend this particular stop.

Water activities aside, one may also want to spend time exploring the island’s interior, which is littered with small villages and mountainous terrains. Some visitors might also be interested to know that certain stores on the island have duty free status.

Gorgeous sunset scenery at Tioman beach

Gorgeous sunset scenery

Travel Info

Fast Ferry Ventures Sdn Bhd. Tel: 60 – 9 – 4131997 / 4131998
Berjaya Air. Website: https://www.berjaya-air.com/

Mid Range – Paya Beach Resort. Website: http://www.payabeach.com/
High end – Berjaya Hotel Tioman. Website: http://berjayahotel.com/tioman/index.asp

There are several small restaurants on the island, catering for tourists who wish to eat outside their hotels. Try the Ramli Burgers, a local burger chain, if you have the chance.

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  • Bryan Norman said:

    Thanks for your report. I’m a frequent visitor of Tioman and your experience mirrors mine; I’ll never tire of its natural beauty.

    One thing I should mention is that the water visibility at the Marine Park near Tekek village depends very much on wether it rained recently. Downpours tend to wash down quite a bit of sediment into the bays, which affects the visibility.

    You’ll find that during dry spells (such as the April/May months) the visibility at the Marine Park is astonishing, like swimming in a swimming pool.

  • admin said:

    @Bryan Norman: Thank you for your comments. Tioman is such a great and affordable place to unwind, isn’t it?

    Regarding the Marine Park, we recall that it was raining on our visit to Tioman, and yes this may have contributed to the water quality. We note however that the water at the Marine Park is still considerably murkier than the other diving/snorkeling sites.

  • Bryan Norman said:

    Agreed Tioman is a lovely getaway little pearl of an island. It’s a bit of the beaten track but for a long weekend, or even a regular weekend, it’s very much worth it. Like being in a Swiss Family Robinson episode 🙂

    P.S. I love your pix.

  • Tioman Ferry Tickets said:

    Just a little P.S. from me.

    You see, I think this website (I posted it into the “website” field of this comment) may be quite helpful for Tioman revelers like you and me.

    It’s the the site to go if you want to buy your ferry tickets in advance. The benefit is that you’re no longer at the mercy of availability on the day of your arrival, which sometimes leads to some Tioman revelers being left stranded at the Mersing jetty on account of the ferry having no more seats left.

    Perhaps it can fit into your “Travel Info” section?


  • Pinkie Lieblong said:

    i really love to go to the beaches during holidays. i feel so relaxed in it. ;

    Our internet page
    <img src="http://www.healthmedicinelab.com/stress-rash/ “>

  • Tioman Transport said:


    You can book a private transport service that will pick you up from your doorstep in Singapore and drop you off at the entrance of Mersing ferry terminal.
    The road there is narrow, deserted and dangerous, especially at night, so it is advised not to take a coach service if you are travelling in a small group or with children and elderly.
    Ferry tickets are available for purchase together with the vehicle+driver rental, so everything is smoothly planned.

    Look for me!

    +65 8488-0001

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