Relax, you are in Tioman Island

K.T. Abdurabb | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2009-05-20 03:00

Relax and look at the natural world! This calm and serene setting of the nature will rejuvenate us within seconds. Whether at sea or on land, Tioman Island is an ideal spot for holidays.

Blessed with miles of white sand, lush greenery, wild flowers, crystal clear water as far down as 33 meters, waterfalls gushing down green slopes… after all it is a treasure trove of breathtaking marine attractions.

A densely forested island, 39 km long and 12 km wide, is located 36 km off the east coast of Malaysia. It was selected as one of the world’s most beautiful islands in 1970 by Time magazine. The island was also made famous by James Michener’s mythical Bali Hai Hollywood classic ‘South Pacific’ film in 1958.

Untouched tropical jungle covers about 12,000 hectares of the island and countless mountain streams and waterfalls sustain the many protected species of mammals and birds.

Tioman has options for every kind of holidaymaker: Families with small children, honeymooners, scuba divers, backpackers, adventurers and even those looking for a slice of exclusivity and luxury. We can go deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, boating, water skiing, windsurfing, trekking, sunbathing or enjoy the beauty of undersea gardens by ridding around the island in a glass-bottomed boat.

Corals and seashells, thorny sea urchins, colorful seaweeds and anemones, starfish and a myriad of other aquatic wonders are abundant here.

There are several villages scattered around the coastline, the larger ones being Salang, Tekek, Genting, Paya and Juara. Each village offers a different feel. The only way to reach all the attractions of the island is by boat. Many operators offer opportunity to see the highlights of Tioman villages in a one-day round-island tour.

Tioman has quite a few protected species of mammals, including the binturong, long-tailed macaque, slow loris, black giant squirrel, red giant flying squirrel, mouse deer, brush-tailed porcupine, and common palm civet, from a total of 45 species of mammals and 138 species of birds, including the majestic frigate bird. Fascinatingly, Tioman said to be the final resting place of a fabled dragon princess who had turned herself into an island in the South China Sea. The legend goes like this: A dragon princess from China was flying to her prince in Singapore and stopped to rest in these calm waters. Enamored by the beauty of the area she discontinued her journey and took the form of an island.

There is a golf course, two spas and duty-free shops. An 18-hole international standard golf course is not something that you would expect to find on a tropical island like this, but Berjaya Tioman Resort have it.

Renggis, a tiny rocky island located in front of the Berjaya Resort, has some of the most impressive coral formations. It is a popular stop for snorkeling as well as scuba diving. Most of the tour boats stop here for about 45 minutes.

There are over 20 dive sites and many dive operators who offer boat and shore dives as well as instruction and certification.

Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy a bountiful catch from near Marine Park. Hire a boat for a day. It can be anchored outside the Marine Park limits where fishing is permitted. By dusk, we will have a catch large enough for a barbecue on the beach.

In addition to these, advanced climbers can attempt to reach the top of the twin peaks of Gunung Nenek Semukut. Known as the dragon’s horns, twin peaks are popular with adventurous rock-climbers. The hilly terrain of the island has many waterfalls and the highest waterfalls are the Asah waterfall close to Mukut village and the Juara waterfall in the hillside behind Juara village.

Jungle trekking is also worth mentioning. The best known trek stretches across the middle of the island, through the hilly terrain and rainforest between the villages of Tekek and Juara. On this 7km trek we are likely to encounter monkeys, lizards and scores of birds as well as passing by tall trees that are hundreds of years old.

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