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Tioman is a small island, 39 km long and 12 km wide, located off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Note that Tioman is in Pahang (East Coast) but the primary gateway Mersing is in Johor (South).
Tioman's beaches were depicted in the 1958 movie South Pacific as "Bali Hai". In the 1970s Time magazine selected Tioman as one of the world's most beautiful islands. The densely forested island is still sparsely inhabited, but is surrounded by numerous white coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba divers from around the region.
Things to see
Juara, which is a very quiet beach at the east coast (especially in the off season, when almost nobody is there), has some special things to offer. There are three rivers coming from the mountains, delivering cold freshwater to the beach - a chilling alternative to swimming in the sea, and a path leads to waterfalls in the jungle, which again is nice to take a swim and climb over the large rocks.
The place itself is divided into two beaches that are separated by a small hill, which is said to be the "origin" of Tioman. Some locals say: "you have not been on Tioman, if you did not stand on these rocks". The beaches are definitely more beautiful than Air Batang and probably even lovelier than Salang.
- The beach more towards the north (where the jetty is) has very nice sand, but some dead corals in the shallow water. Swimming is ok, but walking in the water can be painful. At both ends of this beach is the mouth of one of the rivers mentioned above.
- The beach more towards the south is even quieter (probably because the jetty is at the other beach). The sand again is very nice and there are no obstacles in the water. At the south end of this beach the last of the three rivers meets the sea.
- As mentioned above, there are small waterfalls in the jungle, where one can take a swim in the basins or climb upstream over the boulders to explore the river. To reach the waterfalls, just follow a marked path for about 30 minutes. The path starts at the south beach (opposite of the great rocks, which lie on the beach) and is marked by the bottoms of cans, nailed to the trees and painted yellow. At the beginning of the path there are three such signs at a tree. If you walk along the only concrete road towards south, you can not miss it. The path is well visible all the time and very easy to walk, even with slippers.
- Finally, somewhere at the north beach seems to be a turtle hatchery.
Things to do
• Scuba facilities are readily available, and the diving is reasonably good, especially in view of the proximity to Singapore. Most villages have a variety of dive shops. Padi Open water courses average at about RM900 (4 day course), and for lisenced divers each dive is roughly RM90).
• Perhaps the most popular activity for visitors is snorkelling. Most resorts can arrange for speedboats or seabuses to take you to the beaches and small uninhabited islands nearby (such as Pulau Tulai, aka "Coral Island") and Renggis island where the snorkelling is at its best. The water is almost pristine save for the occasional litter. Just be careful of the small jellyfish, as they can pack a sting, and try not to lose your rental gear or you'll be subject to the renter's arbitrary fines. However, snorkelling is fantastic in front of most beaches and can rival that of any snorkelling trip at a fraction of the cost. Some of the best locations are as follows:
- Paya: A group of rocks adjacent from the beach offers a variety of colourful coral and fish.
- Tekek: The marine park, 3km north of Tekek, has a man-made artificial reef just off its jetty. The visibility can be questionable and theres not much coral but is teeming with fish.
- Air Batang: The best village for snorkelling. At ABC (the far end of the beach) one can snorkel around the rocks towards panuba with a full reef full of colourful coral and fish. Its not too deep, making it perfect for snorkelling. Even more colourful is the reef on either side of the jetty where one can see turtles and a vast garden of yellow coral.