Tioman Island is a small island located in Malaysia that first became famous as the shooting location for the film South Pacific in 1958. The island was chosen to represent ‘Bali Hai’ thanks to its amazing white sand beaches and its azure waters and if you are looking for a tropical paradise in Malaysia then this is a great choice.
The island is located on the east coast near Pahang and is also part of the wider Mersing Marine Park. This is also one of the most commercialized islands on the east coast of Malaysia and people flock here to dive and snorkel, or to just relax on the beach. Tioman Island also has duty-free island which means you can stock up on cheap products here, and although this is one of the most developed islands it is still possible to get away from it all and enjoy isolated beaches and lookout spots. Some of the highlights of a trip include spending time relaxing on the beach or trekking through the lush jungles that cover the island.
One of the big draws of Tioman Island is the marine life and if you want to see this up close and also work for your supper then you need to go on a fishing trip. There are several different kinds of trips that you can take, and you are only allowed to fish up to 25 kilometers off the coast of Tioman Island. This means that you can either stay close to shore and have a go at reeling in a catch, or you can explore a little further and try island hopping at the same time to see which spot has the most marine life.
First you have to get to Mersing, which is the little city on the East Coast of Malaysia where the ferry port is situated that will send you off to Tioman. Then you have to transfer from Mersing to Tioman. This happens via ferry, and is the more easy part.
Like mainland Malaysia, Tioman Island has a hot and humid climate, with sunny afternoons and warm evenings but cool nights. Temperatures are usually consistent and the calm weather peppered with occasional showers and storms. The tourist season peaks between May and August, when the weather generally displays the least rainfall.
The monsoon winds begin to blow from October, bring heavy rain and strong waves till January (surfing season).During this time, ferries run once a day, while only select hotels (usually the larger ones) will open, providing significant discounts off their standard rates.
If you want to see a more authentic side of Tioman Island then head for Genting Village. The beach here is often overlooked as it is not widely considered to be one of the prettiest in the region but it also backs on to a delightful traditional Malaysian village which is filled with local fishermen. If you come in the early morning then you can watch them hauling in their catch and get a glimpse of how the local community live and work on Tioman Island.LEARN TO DIVE
Not only is the sea here crystal clear but, as many visitors will tell you, diving certification classes are much cheaper than in many other parts of the world and you can get PADI certified for around RM 1,000. If you want to check out the marine life up close but want to make sure that you are doing so safely then consider signing up for a course.GO SNORKELING at SALANG
Salang is known as the backpacker hub of Tioman Island and is one of the most popular villages here. It is also widely considered to be the best place to go snorkeling on the island as you can swim out to some nearby reefs which means that you can see a plethora of marine life without having to venture too far.
One of the main reasons to go free diving on Tioman Island is for the chance to see some of the amazing underwater life up close. The waters around the island are known for being the home of graceful turtles and even blacktip reef sharks and you can dive down to some 25 meters off the shore. It is also possible to free dive as part of a boating trip and if you choose that option then you can expect to dive down to depths of around 30 meters.GO SEA KAYAKING
As you would imagine, water sports activities abound on Tioman Island and one of these is sea kayaking. Many locals will tell you that the best place to do this is at ABC Beach where you can rent a sea kayak and get out on the water. You can also kayak from Salang although the vessels are not as new as the ones at ABC Beach. Many visitors who choose to kayak will also take the opportunity to go snorkeling off the coast of Tioman Island at the same time.EXPLORE THE ISLAND on a BICYCLE
Looking for a more laid-back way to take in the sights and sounds of the island? Opt for cycling across the many sections of Tioman’s many landmarks on surprisingly smooth pavements. Bicycles can be found for rent in resorts and other facilities, with tandem bikes available for those who aren’t super skilled at cycling.