Pulau Tioman (pulau = island in Malay) is a mountainous and green island off the east coast of the Malay Peninsula that attracts a heteroclite crowd of scuba divers, backpackers and nature hungry urbanites from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. It features white sand beaches, steep jungles, magnificent marine life and cheap beer, thanks to its duty-free status.
Hard top roads are practically nonexistent in the island, which is both a curse – getting around the island require a bit of planning and is expensive compared to mainland Malaysia – and a blessing – it enhances the island’s wilderness.
Pulau Tioman is largely covered by virgin rainforest, home to several species of endemic wildlife that await the adventurous jungle trekkers. Any visitor will most likely come across monitor lizards, monkeys, mousedeers, porcupines and flying foxes walking from one stupendous beach to the other.
Where is Tioman Island Located?
Tioman Island is located in the South China Sea, about 40 km (24 mi) northeast of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia. 20 km (12 mi) long and over 10 km (6 mi) wide, it covers an area of 136 km²(53 mi²).
How do I get to Tioman Island?
To get to Tioman Island, ferries are the only option at the moment. Although there is a small airport in Tioman, there are no regular flights to the island at the time of writing.
2 companies run the route from both Tanjung Gemok Jetty and Mersing, in Malaysia’s east coast, Cataferry and Bluewater Express. Fares start at 11 US$ one way, to which you will have to add a Marine Park entrance fee of 7 US$. They serve 5 jettys in Tioman, Tekek, ABC, Genting, Paya and Salang.
Buses to Tanjung Gemok:
From Kuala Lumpur, 6h, 12 US$.
From Johor, 3h, 6 US$.
From Singapore, 6.5h, 25 US$.
Buses to Mersing:
From Kuala Lumpur, 6h, 10 US$.
From Johor, 2h, 3 US$.
From Singapore, 3.5h, 25 US$.
How to get around Tioman Island?
To get around Tioman Island is a bit tricky, as it is covered by a lush tropical jungle and only its coastal part is inhabited. There are very few roads and the main mean of transport is by boat. A typical fare between kampungs (villages) is around 25 US$ and it will go up at night. There are bicycles and scooters for rent, but you won’t be able to ride them for very long distances. A pickup truck ride from Tekek (esat coast) to Juara (west coast) will cost around 35 US$, team up with other travelers to share the costs. You can do the same trip on foot, count at least 2h.
How do I get from Singapore to Tioman Island?
To get from Singapore to Tioman Island, hop on a bus to either Mersing (3.5h, 25 US$) or Tanjung Gemok (6.5h, 25 US$) and take the ferry from there to Tioman. For more convenience, you can easily book bus + ferry combo tickets and thus avoid schedule conflicts between the two. A simple internet search will yield many companies, with similar prices / schedules, just pick one!
How can I get to Tioman Island by plane?
Getting to Tioman Island by plane used to be easy, as Berjaya Air operated regular charter flights to the island. Alas, they have canceled the service for quite some time now. Some private charters companies in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore might fly there, we suggest to get your hotel concierge to find out.
How much is the ferry from Mersing to Tioman?
The ferry price for Mersing to Tioman Island is around US$ 10.
How long is the ferry ride from Mersing to Tioman?
The ferry ride from Mersing to Tioman is 1.5 hours to 2 hours each way..
What is the best time to visit Tioman?
The best time to visit Tioman Island is during the dry season, between March and October.
Between November and February the ferry services might be disrupted due to bad weather.
Where to stay on Tioman Island?
Is Tioman Island worth visiting?
Yes, Tioman Island is worth visiting, for its beaches, its wildlife, to get plenty of snorkeling and scuba diving action or just some chill time far away from everything, in magnificent surroundings that will make you howl: “I love the smell of nasi lemak* in the morning”, before going head first in the blue ocean.
*Nasi lemak, fat rice in Malay, is the unofficial national dish of Malaysia. It consists of a dome of rice surrounded by slices of cucumber, peanuts, anchovies, hard-boiled egg & most commonly chicken.
What part of Tioman Island is the best?
Possibly the best beach on Tioman Island and more quiet than those on the east coast.
You can do a lot in this picturesque remote bay.
Surfing (during the monsoon months of November to February) but only for experienced surfers. There is a 3 days surf festival every year at the end of January.
See baby turtles at the Juara Turtle Project hatchery
Lubuk Teja waterfall: hike up the jungle and cool off by the fall. This challenging trail starts at the beach’s south end and is signaled all the way up. Estimated time: 45 mn each way.
Enjoy a beautiful sunrise.
Tekek Beach / Berjaya Beach.
Popular with families and busy , Tekek Beach has crystal clear waters and is perfect to cool off and rest.
It also has a large number of facilities and duty-free shops. That is probably why it is very popular.
Salang Beach is popular with divers and backpackers, as there are a lot of dive sites nearby.
In Salang village, there are quite a few pubs, restaurants and bonfire parties in the evenings.
What activities does Tioman offer at night?
There are no clubs but bars and restaurants get crowded anyway and you can catch some live music in many places around the island. The livelier places are Tekek, ABC and Salang.
Things to do on Tioman Island?
Bring your own gear if you can and whatever the Kampung you’re staying at, just go in the water, you won’t be disappointed! You might see dead coral near the shores but the marine life is fantastic. Kayaks are for rent anywhere if you want to explore further.
You will see them advertised everywhere, and most people go at least on one. Coral & Renggis Island (for the best snorkeling in Tioman), Shark Point, the Twin Peaks rocks, Asah waterfall are the most popular.
See baby turtles
Visit the turtle hatchery in Juara Village.
The 2 most popular treks are from Kampung ABC to Monkey Beach/Monkey Bay and Tekek to Juara, 2 and 3h respectively. If you want to spice it up, climb Gunung (mount) Kajang (1.038 m/3.400 ft), the “easiest” trail starts from Kampung Paya. The ascent takes about 5h, and you can book a guide if you wish, ask your hotel/guest house.
Due to the low light pollution in the island, it is possible to observe a large number of stars at night.
Enjoy the sunsets.
Join the crowds that gather at the bars and restaurants and the west coast to watch that glorious last coppery ray of sun lighting up the shores.
Diving in Tioman Island.
The Tioman Islands are a protected National Marine Reserve which covers around 12,300 ha protecting its great biodiversity.
Suitable for beginners as well as for advanced divers, Tioman offers good soft & hard corals, wrecks, turtles and reef sharks in a landscape of granite boulders, small caves and swim through. The macro life will please underwater photographers.