Tioman Island was recommended to me by friends and for this trip, unlike the busyness of Thailand, we knew we wanted to have more chill time (I say we, I mean Joel).
It’s difficult to gauge the best place to stay on Tioman Island as there are several different areas. We opted for a quieter part of the island as our accommodation, The Tunamaya Beach and Spa Resort, was better-rated on TripAdvisor and we were still just a boat ride away from Tekek Village – a more built-up and touristy area.
One big attraction to Tioman Island is that it’s duty free so, everything from alcohol to chocolate is obscenely cheap… and definitely worth stocking up on.
Tioman is predominantly accessed by boat from Mersing Jetty so, make sure you’ve pre-booked your boat tickets and allow enough time to check-in. I say this because I wouldn’t want you to endure the 20-minute SPRINT we had to do with 20+kg cases, in 30+degree heat, to get to the jetty in time. I pre-warned Joel about the choppiness of the ride, to which he replied, “If you’re sick, you owe me £10 because that’s just embarrassing.” Who doesn’t love moral support?! However, tables turned 10-minutes into the boat-ride when Joel is now lime green with his head in a bag. Easy way for me to make £10 though so, I can’t complain!
When you step off the boat onto the Tunamaya Jetty, it’s surreal. The entire back-drop of the Island is so naturally beautiful with jungle land, volcano peaks, mist over the mountains and crystal-like sea. The resort is located on the beach-front and is comprised of beach huts and villas, overlooking the rainforest and the sea (be careful of monkeys stealing your laundry though)!
To say that this was for “chilling”, I still wanted to explore:
Tunamaya Trek –The resort doesn’t need a gym because this was the ultimate quad-burner. Thankfully, the resort had marked out the entire trekking route. By the time we reached the top, we were soaked, I mean “glowing”, with sweat. The end views made the hard work worthwhile. You can see over the tops of the rainforest and miles out to sea – it makes you realise how far away from civilisation you really are!
Asah Waterfall – Being on an Island means that boats are relied on. However, when the sea is too choppy, and boats are unsafe, it’s your legs or nothing. Optimistically, I told Joel that the trek to the waterfall wouldn’t take long and was fairly straightforward. Ha. This made the Tunamaya Trek look like Sunday-afternoon-stroll. With my Fitbit heart-rate measuring at no less than 160 the entire trek, 2 hours later, we finally made it to the waterfall and climbed * cough – slipped over a lot * to get to the top.
Mutuk Village – There are a very small number of people that live on this part of the island, but they make you understand how unimportant material luxuries are in life.The little village had its necessities of small hut shops, a school, a football field and a place of worship, and still I’ve never seen so many happy children!
Tulai & Tekek Island Snorkelling – Tioman Island is said to be the best snorkelling spot in Malaysia. After snorkelling in Thailand, we really hoped it wouldn’t disappoint. We dived off the end of the boat and were free to explore. We were then taken to several different wildlife hotspots throughout the day.
I have never seen so many, and so many different species, of sea creatures in my whole life – such as, turtles, jellyfish and barracudas! This was like some David-Attenborough-Blue-Planet-remake. It’s as if you were invisible, as you swam along and there were thousands of tropical fish that were just bumping into your snorkelling goggles without a care?!
I was in my absolute element until… Joel shouts “Quick, come here, I can see a shark!” ABSOLUTELY NOT, thank you. My legs were frozen from lactic acid build-up as I swam at about 200mph in the opposite direction. When we got back on the boat, we chatted to the Malaysian divers about what we’d seen, and they laughed the shark off saying it was a “baby shark”. I would have believed their jokes if one of them wasn’t missing an eye and the other one didn’t have a scar that wrapped around his entire face…
Sarang Spa – We even rounded the “chill-time” off with a full spa day. We came out so relaxed we felt practically paralysed… although, I still laugh now thinking about my massage – I was lying face-down and just remember thinking, has the masseuse climbed on my bed…? Is she now standing on me…? But hey, it was the best massage I’ve ever had, ha!
Every night we ate amazing Malaysian food, we drank well, we had minimal WIFI so actually had to communicate with each other, and we took strolls to other jetties where at night they fed sharks as if they were stray cats. Madness!
I would recommend to anyone to visit Tioman Island, from its ginormous lizards roaming free, to its sandy beaches, and to its night-time skies where the lack of light-pollution lets you see the billions of stars!
“Adventure is somewhere” – Aesop
Tunamaya Beach and Spa Resort
Trip Advisor – 4
Booking.com – 8.1