Tioman Islands"A legend story about the Island is a tale of a beautiful dragon princess. On her way from China to visit her prince in Singapore, this fabled maiden stopped to seek solace in the crystal-clear water of the South China Sea. Enchanted by the charms of the place, she decided to discontinue her journey. The princess took the form of an island and pledged to offer shelter and comfort to passing travelers."
On the southeastern side of the Peninsular Malaysia, lies a group of 64 islands, of which Tioman Island is the biggest one. Tioman is one of the more popular island in Malaysia (other popular islands are Redang and Perhentian). This island is well known for its diving, snorkeling, fishing and relaxing possibilities. There are many resorts catering to different walks of life with different budget. As Tioman is a duty-free island, you will be able to find beer cheaper and a can of 100 plus. Overall, the island has a very tranquil atmosphere and you can relax by just looking at the stars or join a nice bar to drink your night away.
As Tioman is a part of a Marine Park, all visitors have to pay a marine park entrance fee of RM30 (Year 2018) at the Mersing/Tanjung Gemok jetty. Travelling to Tioman is simple as there are scheduled ferries to and fro Mersing/Tanjung Gemuk jetty. Once at the jetty, just purchase a ferry ticket and the ferry will take you to all the different jetties in Tioman. You will have to know which jetty to disembark beforehand as the crews on board the ferry will shout the name of the jetty to alert the passengers (Do not count which number of jetty as sometimes the ferry goes the anti-clockwise direction). Just listen to the jetty name to ensure you are disembarking on the correct one.
As the dive sites are silt-bottomed such as the Marine Park areas, the dive season for Tioman start from March till October. A good alternative to Tioman during the monsoon season is Phuket, Thailand. In Tioman, the frequency and amount of marine lives will not be as much compared to the amazing Similan Islands (see my Similan Island report here), however this tranquil island does has its own attractive side too.
In Tioman diving, large schools of fish swarm are common. Turtles lurking around you in each dive taking short glances at enthusiastic divers and continue to search for their favorite coral to feed. Turtles should be common here because there is a Juara Turtle Project right here in Tioman that do research and conservation effort to protect turtles. Once in a while, you will also see puffer fish and cuttlefish floating by. Though Tioman is connected to the deep sea, large pelagic marines are rare. The nudibranches found here in Tioman are of the common breed. Water visibility could be 15m to 20m on a good day. The Coral gardens formation are spectacular and colorful, and one of the island (North Point) has a bed of soft white sands which make the contrast color superbly beautiful.
I signed up my Nitrox course with B&J Tioman dive centre, which is situated minutes walk from Air Batang jetty. I chose this dive center as the jetty is more remote as compared to the Resorts near Paya and Genting jetty (You will see more tourists/passengers disembark on these 2 jetties), as my main purpose for this trip is to take the Nitrox course and have some peaceful moments on the island instead of squeezing with army of tourists. I also took the chance to familiarize myself in flying my new DJI Mavic Pro Platinum without curious onlookers asking questions on the drone (I do get that every time I fly). I took the Nitrox course because I will be planning a dive trip to Sipadan in June (stay tuned for my update after my trip). As I wished to dive longer with Nitrox during my Sipadan trip, I decided to take up the course before I go. The only disappointment I had is that I could not find any real coconut to drink in Air Batang. Being a tropical island with beautiful beaches and lot of coconut trees, it is really weird not to sell coconut.
There are also other activities like kayaking, snorkeling, trekking into the wilderness (bring your swim wear for the trek if you want a splash at the waterfall), cycling to explore the island, catching the amazing sunset scenery, island hopping with the river taxi and etc. All in all, Tioman is a nice get-away island for 2 to 3 days or the weekend just to relax the mind.