Malaysia’s Last Unspoiled Isle — Luxury In Tioman Island
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Malaysia’s Last Unspoiled Isle — Luxury In Tioman Island

March 13, 2022 Share

Travelling to Malaysia’s secluded Tioman Island is like stepping back in time. Unspoiled white sand beaches and azure seas, dense jungles and a population of gargantuan — but mostly harmless — monitor lizards give the island a Jurassic feel.

Tioman Island, just a short flight from the shimmering capital Kuala Lumpur, is located approximately 30 kilometres off the East Coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea.

Tioman Island is a short trip from Kuala Lumpur (pictured).
Tioman Island is a short trip from Kuala Lumpur. Credit: Esmonde Yong

The island is open all year round, but the best time to visit is between February and October for perfect, sunny weather. Although the island has been discovered in the last ten years or so, it is just beginning to land on the tourist trail.

Much less commercialised than other Malaysian islands like Penang or Langkawi, Tioman retains a much sought-after natural beauty that can be hard to find elsewhere in this rapidly developing country.

For now, the island retains its sleepy, local vibe — with the added benefit of luxury resorts already in place for its inevitable tourist boom.  

Azure blue seas around a dock in Tioman Island.
Tioman Island’s azure waters are beginning to attract more tourists. Credit: Mannon Brousse

The island hosts several four-star hotels, however, highly recommended is Japamala Resort. Here you can enjoy spa treatments as well as a pristine and secluded beachfront. Guests can stay in a variety of rooms ranging from right on the beach — with a private swimming pool included — to luxury suites tucked among the treetops.

Tioman is known for its adventure sports. The island is surrounded by reefs and offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in Southeast Asia.

Trips can be booked through your hotel, however, if you head to Juara Beach on the eastern side of the island, you will find numerous family-owned dive shops with incredible service and local knowledge.

White sand and blue skies of Juara beach in Tioman Island.
Juara Beach is on the Eastern end of Tioman Island. Credit: Matthew Dooley

Oftentimes dive days end with local barbecues and bonfires right on the beach — a great way to experience the local scene.

The natural beauty of this island cannot be over-stated, the waters surrounding Tioman are part of a marine park meaning that fishing here is illegal and construction is limited. The result is an underwater aquascape of brilliant fish and vibrant corals rivalling anywhere in the world.

Unknown coral reef with fish.
Tioman Island has some of the best diving in Southeast Asia. Credit: Raimond Klavins

For those wishing to go all in and stay on the eastern shore, Juara Beach Resort offers quiet chalets right on the beach. For dinner, check out the Chinese restaurant which is part of the resort, which offers great Chinese-Malay cuisine, cheap beer and spectacular ocean views.

For the truly intrepid, there is a jungle path traversing the island, linking the eastern and western sides. The path can be overgrown at times but offers incredible views into Tioman’s dense jungle ecosystem. Be prepared to see monitor lizards sunning themselves during your walk.

Monitor lizards (pictured) are common in Tioman Island.
Though they look intimidating, monitor lizards usually run at the sight of people. Credit: Fatima Garcia

About the lizards — these living dinosaurs are all over the island and, although they look menacing, they mostly just run off when they see humans. The locals consider them a nuisance and have made this known to the lizards, so they rarely stick around for long.

Along the path, some secluded waterfalls make for excellent swimming locations.

The island can also be crossed by road and numerous locals wait on both sides to ferry visitors back and forth.

Back in the main town, numerous duty-free shops avoid Malaysia’s notoriously high alcohol taxes. This is particularly useful if you are staying longer in Malaysia — bring a few bottles back to the mainland.

With summer approaching, the time to book a luxury stay in one of the world’s last unspoiled tropical paradises is now.  

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Tioman Island