Situated on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Tioman Island (Pulau Tioman) is a wonderful escape for turquoise water, pristine beaches, and the lush greenery of rainforest. The island is a long-time backpacker favorite destination and was listed as one of the world’s most beautiful islands in the world back in the 70’s.
Tioman is gazetted as a marine park, home to marine life and coral reefs. The crystal clear water is ideal for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling to discover the abundance of marine creatures and corals. Several wildlife species also inhabit this idyllic tropical island.
Best Time to Visit
Tioman Island is a tropical island with hot and humid weather. The best time to enjoy this beautiful paradise is between March and October. The weather is usually pretty sunny in the afternoons, expected to be warm in the evenings, and cooling at night. The peak season falls between May and August when there is the least rainfall. Many resorts are closed during the monsoon season between November and February.
There are no flights flying going to Tioman Island. The only way to get to the island is by ferry, which departs from Mersing Jetty in Mersing, Johor.
But first, you will need to travel to the small Mersing town. The quickest route is from Johor and the buses frequently depart from Larkin Bus Terminal. If you are flying from overseas, you can take a flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and transit to Senai International Airport (JHB) in Johor, which takes only an hour.
The journey from Johor to Mersing usually takes two and a half hours as you pass through forest reserves, palm oil plantations, Malay villages, and small towns. The bus will arrive at either Mersing Jetty or Mersing Bus Terminal. Then, you can take a taxi or Grab car to your hotel (Do note that Grab cars are very limited in Mersing. Therefore, it is best to stay near the jetty or arrange for a morning ride to the jetty with the driver who picks you up after arriving at Mersing beforehand).
If you do not wish to fly to Johor to catch the bus, you can take a bus from Kuala Lumpur and it departs from Bersepadu Selatan Terminal (TBS), the main bus terminal of Kuala Lumpur. You can get to TBS by KLIA Transit from KL Sentral in the city center or KL International Airport (KUL). Alternatively, you can use e-hailing services from Grab or AirAsia Super App to the bus terminal (Remember to download the Grab or AirAsia Super app to your phone. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Mersing takes about 6 hours.
Ferries will depart from Mersing Jetty and the ride takes at least two and a half hours. The ferry will make multiple stops on the west side of the island: Kampung Genting, Paya Beach, Kampung Tekek, Kampung ABC and Kampung Salang. My stop was at the first drop-off point at Kampung Genting, where I stayed at Bayu Tioman Beach.
Tioman Island is relatively small and you can explore the surroundings on foot, rent a scooter or ride a bicycle. However, you will need to hire a boat if considered heading to the east side of the island for a hike, see the amazing waterfall or catch the sunset.
The fun activities for 3 days on Tioman Island
Tioman Island has stunning beaches with calm water and is great for relaxing with its tropical weather. Spending at least two nights on this island is just perfect to enjoy water activities, hiking, or just relax and sunbathe on the gorgeous sandy beach and forget about the rest of the world.
If you want to go diving or participate in a diving course, you might want to spend 3-4 days on the island.
1. Swim, snorkeling and sightseeing
These activities are the main reasons why most travelers come and spend their days on Tioman Island. They are also probably the same purpose you set foot on this island. The island is rich in marine life and coral reef.
Join a group tour as the guide take you to a few snorkeling spots just off the beaches where you can find an abundance of colorful fish and amazing coral gardens. Here are some of the best spots the guide had taken me to see the marine life, including a small island off Paya Beach, Pantai Kampung Tekek, and Pulau Rengis.
We made our first stop just a few hundred meters from the shore of Paya Beach and a swarm of fish was spotted around the coral reefs. After half an hour later, a stingray was seen swimming beneath our boat.
Pulau Rengis is also home to the beautiful Butterflyfish, Angelfish, and parrotfish. They are easily spotted swimming around the reef.
2. Go shopping at the duty-free store
After having lunch and snorkeling, we docked by the pier at Kampung Tekek Jetty and dropped by Vision Commerce Duty-Free Shop. The store sells a variety of chocolates, liquors, and alcoholic beverages. If you are looking cheaper alcohol drinks or planning for a party,you come to the right place and there are no tax charges on those sold items (chocolate too, of course!)
3. Watch the wonderful sunset
One of the obvious things to do on the island is to watch the magnificent sunset and enjoy the cool sea breeze. Luckily, the weather was fine despite it being forecasted to be raining.
4. Take a morning walk to Gua Gelamin
After heavy rain from late last night until morning, I still got a chance to stroll along the beach to Gua Gelamin, a spectacular natural spot recommended to visit by the hotel staff, Alex. This U-shaped rock is a short 20-minute walk from the Bayu Tioman Beach and is located close to the beach, surrounded by a large pile of rocks. It was a hidden gem of mine, a quiet place to enjoy the sound of calm sea waves and birds chirping.
Visitors tend to come here in the afternoon with their tour guides or in the late evening. Fortunate for me, I got this beach all to my own and got want I deserved most to have a peace of mind to relax, just after a small family leave here for an early morning swim.
5. Wander around Kampung Genting Jetty
While waiting for the ferry to arrive, an unexpected visitor was swimming near the shore. A small blacktip shark was circling around the dock, probably hunting for food or just saying “hi” and keeping the guests on the island entertained while waiting for the ferry that has delayed for almost 40 minutes.
My Share on Bayu Tioman Beach
During my trip to Tioman Island, I stayed at the Bayu Tioman Beach at Kampung Genting, which is the first pick-up and drop-off point of the ferry. The chalets are located about a 20-minutes walk from the jetty and guest pick-up is also available. It is very affordable, which is suitable for backpackers, solo travelers, and budget families.
My chalet comes with a doubled-bed and a small private bedroom and it is very clean. I also took their tour package that includes 2-ways Mersing- Tioman ferry ticket, 2-nights stay in the air-conditioned room, boat ride to snorkeling spots, 2 breakfast, 1 lunch meal, and 2 dinners. The price only cost RM490 (the normal price per pax is RM390) with an additional RM100 for a supplementary one room because I was traveling alone and still affordable and value-for-money.
- Ferry tickets from Mersing Jetty to Tioman Island can be purchased from Bluewater website. Alternatively, you can contact the hotel staff in Tioman Island for help to purchase the ticket.
- Make sure to arrive at the jetty and collect the ticket an hour before the departure time.
- Ferries are not always punctual to pick up passengers. If you are going to take a bus to your next destination, make sure that there is at least an hour’s time gap to take the bus.
- Taxi and Grab car are very limited in Mersing. If you are taking a ferry early in the morning, it’s best to either stay near the jetty or arrange an early morning ride to the jetty with the driver who picks you up from the bus terminal upon arrival at Mersing.
- Bring lots of sunblock and water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Take a towel and extra clothes if necessary to change after swimming or snorkeling.
- A camera is a MUST. There are full of beautiful natural sceneries.
Going Elsewhere in Malaysia?
If you are planning to stay longer for more adventures in Malaysia, you can check out some of my other posts: