Tioman Island Malaysia: A weekend escape to paradise from Singapore
Updated: May 13
Our travel guide to Tioman Island, Malaysia, only a 3 hour drive from Singapore
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We walked out onto the balcony of our hillside bungalow nestled in the jungle, to overlook the clear ocean below. The sun was setting as we headed toward our resorts' private jetty for a sunset cocktail. We made our way along the rustic wooden boardwalk, looking down in awe, through the crystal clear waters to the colourful corals and tropical fish below. While sipping our Mojito's, the darkness set in, we stayed outdoors to watch the stars of the milky way light up the night. The novelty of a starry night was not lost on us, living in Singapore, a city of blinding lights, it's something we don't get to see every day. This paradise is Tioman Island Malaysia, and it was one of the easiest, cheapest and most beautiful weekends we have spent in Asia, just a three hours drive from Singapore.
Where to Stay on Tioman Island: The exclusive and Luxurious Japamala Resort
Self-described as a 'fashionably rustic eco Luxe resort', boutique retreat was exactly what we needed for a romantic and quiet weekend escape to celebrate our birthdays. While Japamala did set us back ~ $250 SGD per night, it was worth it for the five-star treatment and exclusivity. We arrived via the resorts privately arranged white speedboat onto the Jetty, leading us to our hideaway. With its private beach and coral reef, there was no need to leave the resort for the weekend. We spent our days relaxing in our two-story bungalow, snorkelling and kayaking in the clear and calm waters, sunbathing on the beach and enjoying the resorts inclusive breakfast and sunset cocktails.
While we splashed out on this hotel, there is a wide range of accommodation options on tioman to suit all budgets and group sizes. See more Tioman accommodation options here.
Our Room at Japamala: The Treetop Chalet
Even without the crystal clear ocean surrounds we still would have loved our stay on Japamala, Tioman just for this room alone. We enjoyed two nights in serious luxury, with our private spa, balcony and two-storey treehouse.
Top things to see and do on Tioman Island, Malaysia
Snorkel in the clear blue waters
We were lucky enough to be surrounded by a coral reef at the footstep of our hotel. We rented our free snorkel gear and jumped straight off the jetty into the ocean to witness the bright coloured corals and tropical fish. There are plenty of tours available to book across the island for various snorkel trips.
Learn to Dive: Take a half day dive lesson without needing any prior experience
Our main reason to visit Tioman Island was to learn to dive, something high on our list of things to do while living in Asia. It would be our very first time diving and we couldn't think of a better place to learn. It had been recommended by so many friends of ours living in Singapore being so close by. With calm skies, clear and warm waters, and a vast and colourful marine life, this was a beginners dream.
We booked our half-day diving tour in advance. The tour company picked us up by boat in the early morning from our resort to take us to the dive centre for our lesson. For the first hour, we learned all the basics, hand signals (our favourite was the turtle and okay!), how to breathe and had a chance to practise swimming in our diving equipment in the shallow beach waters. We had a great instructor, a full-time lawyer working in the CBD of London, taking 6 months off to explore his passion for diving.
Once we were all comfortable with our level of skill, it was time to head out to a nearby small island reef for our very first dive. Without being certified divers, we were able to dive up to 10m depth, having an instructor with us one-to-one guiding us the entire way. We felt at ease with the level of support we were given, especially helping to calm any first-time nerves. The 45 minutes underwater seems to pass in the blink of an eye, as we spotted turtles and a huge variety of fish and corals. Just like that, we had dived! The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment would last well beyond our little weekend away.
Enjoy a sunset cocktail and beachside meal
After a busy morning, we were more than happy to spend the afternoon back at the resort enjoying the beachside restaurant, relaxing on the sand and sipping afternoon cocktails on the jetty.
Getting to Tioman Island, Malaysia from Singapore:
We took a private bus departing from the Singapore Flyer in the early hours of Saturday morning travelling directly to Mersing Ferry terminal in Malaysia, which cost roughly $50 for a one-way trip per person. We crossed the border of Malaysia at Woodlands checkpoint then continued on the 3-4 hour drive to Mersing. From there we boarded a larger ferry directly to Tioman Island. The ferry felt quite chaotic, filled with families and excited holiday-goers.
Thankfully, upon arrival at the main jetty in Tioman, our private luxury speed boat arranged by our resort was waiting to whisk us away to a much more secluded part of the island.
The best time to visit Tioman Island, Malaysia:
We visited late March and had clear skies every day. The best time to visit to avoid rain is between March to October.
We hope you enjoyed our weekend travel guide to Tioman Island, Malaysia. If you're interested in booking your stay check out the range of accommodation options at Tioman Island here.
For more blog posts on weekend getaways and travel itineraries check out the destinations section of our blog.
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