Tioman Island – an unexpected paradise

Having heard from numerous people that the islands off the east coast were supposed to be nice, I decided to give the biggest one of them, Pulau Tioman, a try. From Mersing I took the boat over to Tekek, the main village and the only place on the island with an atm. Upon my arrival it started to rain heavily and I was wondering if the rainy season was still on after all (as guidebooks and people had suggested). But my worries were unnecessary: Although there were dark clouds at times it only rained for a total of maybe three hours during my three day stay on the island – perfect!

Drama in the skies

I had arrived with no plan whatsoever, but had brought some food and a tent, so I felt safe. But it turned out that I needed neither: On ABC-beach (in walking distance from Tekek) I found a very reasonably priced “resort” (SPC), with sea view chalets for only about 6€ per night! (Of course the standard was pretty low too, but why would I spend time in the room, except for sleeping?!) And the place also had a restaurant with many choices of delicious and affordable dishes…

The island was very quiet, it seemed like most other tourists were discouraged by the allegedly ongoing rainy season in the region, but still all the facilities (like shops, restaurants, dive-centers, etc.) were open – perfect again!


On my first day on Tioman I walked back to Tekek, and on to Berjaya Resort (now, that’s a real resort!), where I hid my backpack on the beach and swam over to Renggis Island, little more than a pile of stones with some trees growing in between them.

Renggis island (my swimming goal)

It took me about 15 minutes to get there, and when I arrived and held on to the floating platform nearby I was a little out of breath due to the waves I had encountered on the way. But looking down I saw that it had been well worth the effort: A bizarre and beautiful landscape of corals stretched out below me, with colorful fish of many different sizes and patterns swimming through these pieces of natural art, and also all around me.


(taken with my phone, so no miracles to be expected…)

I spent several hours on and around the island, setting out on many snorkeling trips, diving down to the plants and corals for close-up inspections, and simply marveling at the beauty. And then two sharks arrived, curiously swimming around me and underneath me. It was the first time I had seen sharks in “real life”, and this close up, and they made me somewhat uneasy although I knew that I was perfectly safe. At the same time it was fascinating to watch these big creatures, their effortless movements, and their natural aura of power.

The next day I went diving, but we could not go to the site we had planned to dive at, and the alternative was nice, but nothing special, not even close to the snorkeling excursion the day before. In the afternoon I decided to go camping for one night. I packed all my things and set out northward along the coast.

In the forest

There was a small trail, following the electricity line through the jungle to the next village (otherwise only reachable by boat). After a little more than one hour of hiking I was in Monkey Bay, where I even found a shelter under which I set up my tent. Then I went snorkeling, right towards the colorful sunset…

Thoughtful monkey

Monkey playing with coconut

I was awoken by the wind and the waves, and as I raised my head, a giant monitor lizard peacefully found his way past my tent. A monkey was playing with a coconut down at the water. While I packed down the tent several more monkeys showed up, curious as to what this intruder was up to (and whether he had any food with him)… As the time went by they dared to approach me closer and closer, but I stored all my things securely away, then went out into the pleasant water, snorkeling again. Highlights were (apart from the beautiful corals which I cannot stop to be fascinated by) a big squid, a manta ray and another black-fin shark.

Path through the forest

Walking back again I saw the boat approaching. I could have stayed longer in this paradise, done some more diving, snorkeling or even jungle trekking, but I felt I had had enough for this time – plus: a bicycle was waiting for me on the main land. So I boarded the boat, and two hours later I was again in Mersing, relieved to discover that everything was as I had left it.

On Tioman I also met and international mix of incredibly nice people who I spent an enriching time with (which I am very greatful for!). Leaving out these stories here does not mean I have forgotten about them, but there is a time for everything, and this is not it…

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