By Victoria Jackson
With its white-sand beaches, luscious rainforests, waterfalls and marine life, Tioman Island really does have something for everyone. Situated off the east coast of Malaysia, it is a short boat ride from the mainland, making it perfect for a weekend getaway…
As we arrived on Tioman Island at sunset, we knew we’d landed in paradise. Bathed in a golden-hour glow, the island revealed to us its colourful landscape as we whizzed by on the back of a scooter. We were staying in Air Batang, a small coastal village of mainly budget chalet accommodation, restaurants and a few residential homes, all made of wood and connected by dirt paths that are too narrow for cars. Though more commercialised than it was ten years ago, it is still so tranquil and laidback, and has an unspoiled feel. I found the simplicity of life here extremely calming.
On our first morning on Tioman Island we had roti telur for breakfast. This was one of my favourite breakfasts to eat in Malaysia – it’s very basic, just an egg roti that you dip in either dahl or curry, yet so satisfying. Afterwards, we collected some snorkelling gear and headed to the beach to meet our group. We’d booked a snorkelling trip around the nearby islands for roughly £17 each, with four other people plus an instructor.
For our first stop we went to Coral Bay to snorkel around the huge coral reef. Speeding away from Tioman, with stormy clouds looming overhead, into blue skies and deep waters felt truly surreal, like something out of a Bond film. At Coral Bay we geared up and jumped off our little boat into the water. Thankfully we didn’t see any sharks, but there were more fish than I’ve ever seen in my life! Fish of every size and colour: tiny blue-silver ones, sleek pitch-black ones, delicate-finned ones, and huge rainbow and purple ones. The reef itself was magical; a myriad of plants and creatures, like a miniature city for its fish residents.
After 45 minutes of exploring, we boarded the boat and rode to the shore of Coral Island, to a beautiful stretch of white sand, where we went shallow snorkelling. The beach was completely deserted and more beautiful than any I’d seen so far on our trip.
For lunch, we were dropped off at Salang, another coastal village on Tioman Island. We had a banana leaf, a traditional Malaysian meal, which consists of a selection of rice, potatoes, curries and Dahl, spread out on a banana leaf and eaten with your hands. I loved eating this way because it allowed me to try a few different things at once. I also had a lemon iced tea, something I just couldn’t get enough of in Malaysia!
We rounded off our snorkelling trip with one last stop before calling it a day. Though we could only fit in snorkelling, I would love to return to Tioman Island and experience more of what it has to offer!
Tioman Island truly is a special place. Unlike some other islands we visited in Malaysia and Thailand, it has an authentic, rural feel to it. The pace of life is slow and relaxing, and the island itself is absolutely stunning. Just like the rest of the country, it has a huge variety of landscapes, the cuisine is out of this world and the people are so kind and welcoming. I completely fell in love with Malaysia, and I hope that you have been inspired to visit one day. I promise, you won’t regret it!