Tioman Island Travel Guide
Overview of Tioman Island
Tioman Island (or "Pulau Tioman") is one of the three duty-free islands in Malaysia. This beautiful island is located off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea. Despite being a small island with a land area of only 136 km square and a population of 500 residents, there are eight main villages in Tioman Island, amongst which Kampung Tekek is the main village and most highly populated. The people living on Tioman Island are mostly Malay and Chinese.
Gazetted as a marine park, Tioman Island is teeming with coral reefs and marine life, which is ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. It is also covered by pristine tropical rainforests boasting amazing flora and fauna, with Gunung Kajang as the highest peak, standing at 1,038 meters.
Where to Go
Visit Air Batang (ABC)
The ABC village spreads along the coast and is where most accommodation is located. There are a few mini markets and restaurants in this area.
Relax at Juara Beach
This is a very quiet beach located on the east coast of the island. This area is divided into two beaches: Juara Beach and Mentawak Beach that are separated by a small hill.
There are three rivers coming down from the mountains delivering cold freshwater to the beach. A jungle path leads to waterfalls in the jungle which takes about 3 hours return. To reach the waterfalls, local law requires you to trek with a jungle guide.
On Mentawak Beach, there is a turtle hatchery and conservation project called Juara Turtle project which you may visit at a small fee that contributes to the project.
Genting Village is on a narrow beach, fringed by boulders. It lies at the foot of steep hills covered in lush rainforest. There are a few shops, restaurants, cafes, chalets, a clinic and a mosque that forms the core of the village around the jetty. You will see many villagers’ wooden houses located in this area.
Hike to Asah Waterfalls
The Asah or Mukut waterfall is one of the many waterfalls on Tioman and was featured in the 1958 movie South Pacific. To reach the waterfall, trek via Kampung Asah or Kampung Mukut. You can also hire a boat to bring you to the waterfall.
What to Do
Scuba Dive and Snorkel
Tioman Island is most famous for scuba diving and snorkeling. For those into adventure, rock-climbing and abseiling activities are available. Depending on fitness level, it is also very popular to jungle trek between the villages and waterfalls.
Many also take the challenge to trek Gunung Kajang. Relaxing activities such as yoga and massage are available to complement island activities.
And if you are into surfing, the year-end monsoon waves are ideal for surfing, windsurfing and watersports on the east of Tioman Island.
You may also go on an island boat to village-hop from one village to the other to explore the little villages on Tioman Island.
When is the Best Time to Visit Tioman Island
The best time to visit Tioman Island is during the mid-year from April to September. The year-end monsoon season starts from November and lasts until January which will bring strong waves and unusually high tide at times.
How to Get to Tioman Island
You have two mandatory fees to pay once you arrive at Mersing Jetty – The Marine Park Fee and the Johor National Park Fee.
Tioman Island is connected through Mersing, Johor and Tanjung Gemuk, Pahang via boat services. There are two fees that must be paid before departure to the island: a Tioman island fee and a Marine Park fee.
The boats stop at these locations on Tioman Island: Genting Pier, Paya Pier, Tekek Pier, Air Batang and Salang Pier.
- Mersing Jetty, Johor. From Mersing jetty, there are ferry services to Tioman Island. It takes about 1.5 - 2 hours depending on weather and tide to reach the island. The ferry service runs multiple times on a daily basis. Do take note that boat service frequency reduces during monsoon season.
- Tanjung Gemuk, Pahang. Some ferries also depart from Tanjung Gemuk to Tioman Island via Pahang. Many travel agents from Singapore use this ferry terminal as there are some premium ferry services using alternative vessels such as catamarans.
- Yacht. Tekek has a harbour with substantial wave break walls where a yacht can be docked.
How to Get Around
There are almost no proper roads on Tioman Island. There is only one concrete road that runs through from the north of the island at Tekek Village to the south at Berjaya Resort.
Cars are available for hire but the local transport of choice is by either scooter, bike or boat. Depending on your fitness level, you can also choose to get around on foot.
By far the best and cheapest way to village hop is to use the Mersing or Tioman ferry service. On its way to and from Mersing, the boats go between Salang in the north and Genting in the south. The ferry will take you to most villages at an affordable fee.
What Are the Cultures
The locals in Tioman Island are known to be very friendly and generally speak good English. Some in the Chinese community can speak Mandarin and local dialects.
Do take into consideration that the Malays are Muslims which means that one will need to be mindful and sensitive to their customs.
Avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing and do observe the traditions that they practice in their communities.