Our contributor Park Yuzz from Malaysia heads to the gorgeous Tioman Islands for a spot of snorkeling and shares his wonderful pictures with Ecophiles.
Tioman island, off the coast of peninsular Malaysia, is a geological wonder. Like a giant sleeping dragon, the dark green ridges of the island rise up above the waters of the South China Sea. With clear turquoise waters, beautiful beaches, and lush rainforests, this tropical paradise located 32 miles off Pahang is an eco-destination you don’t want to miss.
The dragon-like appearance of Tioman Island is at the root of a legend surrounding its origin: A dragon princess from China was flying to her prince in Singapore and stopped to rest in these calm, warm waters. Falling in love with the beauty of the area, and the waves lapping at her sides, she discontinued her journey and took the form of an island.
With a lush tropical jungle that covers about 12,000 hectares of the island, inevitably the island is rich in countless mountain streams and waterfalls. This sustains many protected species of mammals and birds. The star attraction of the islands is corals of all shapes and colours that are home to a vast diversity of sea creatures, including two species of marine turtle.
Tioman is the largest in a volcanic group of islands off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Popular with families and thrill seekers alike, try snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, jungle trekking, glass bottom boat tours, etc here.
With its marine riches and good visibility, Tioman makes for good snorkeling and diving. Unlike Langkawi, the development of the island has been slow, which translates to a closer and purer experience with nature and the water.
There are many patches of corals in front of the villages, but if you’re a keen snorkeler you may want to try Tulai island (Coral island), Rengiss island and Monkey Bay. Tioman and the surrounding smaller islands have been classified as a Marine Park to protect the sensitive ecosystems in the sea here. Only activities that do not harm the coral reefs and the aquatic life are allowed here.
Tulai island (nearest village – Salang) is a short boat ride to the north-east of Tioman Island. At Renggis Island, coral polyps have been attaching themselves to the rocks below the water for many years, and the result is one of the most vast colourful coral gardens around Tioman. Monkey Bay, tucked between Salang and Air Batang village on the north of the island, has a deserted stretch of white sandy beach and crystal clear water. Get to this spot from
Air Batang or Salang village on a pathway that cuts through the jungle.
The monsoon season peaks between November and March every year. Expect rain, rough seas and reduced ferry services. Resorts typically re-open from Chinese New Year (late January or early February) onwards. You could grab a great bargain in the off-peak months.
Getting there: There is a ferry service from Mersing or Tanjung Gemok on the mainland and an airport on the island itself.
You can follow Park Yuzz’s fantastic photostream on Instagram here.