Of myths and legends, a jewel in the South China Sea
A time back in history
Tioman’s beaches are reputed to be the location of “Bali Hai” in the 1958 movie South Pacific. By the 1970’s, Time Magazine had selected Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Fast-forward a few decades and the island continues to captivate visitors with its warm beaches, bio diverse seas and lush rainforests.
Local myths say a dragon princess was flying over the South China Sea en route to Singapore when she became enchanted by Tioman’s beauty. Pausing her journey, she decided to make it her final resting spot and her silhouette forms the undulating hills of the island. Ah bless.
Tioman Island features over 25 dive sites and has a variety of divers offerings (pun intended). Dive the shallow, calm waters of Pirate Reef, wander among the amazing granite and lush coral formations at Chebeh or explore the wrecks at KM Sipadan or Sawadee Wrecks. You can even head to Malang Rock (Coral Island), blessed with an abundance of hard and soft corals (home to hawksbill turtles) to catch a glimpse of the occasional cuttlefish, lion fish, moray eels, black tip reef sharks, parrot fish, blue spotted rays – the list goes on.
The ferry ride to Tioman can get a little confusing for those wet behind the ears. The uninitiated start to question, “Why are there so many jetties? Which jetty do I get off at?” Experienced divers will tell you to ensure you are certain which jetty or kampong (village) your resort or dive centre is located at. The village names are called out when you arrive at Tioman’s various destinations (usually in this order: Genting, Paya, Tekek, Air Batang (also known as ABC), Panuba and Salang).
Above the surface
Lodging is typically clustered around the villages that pepper Tioman’s coastline. There are a few boutique resorts that are built around private beach coves, but in all honesty, do not expect to be living in the lap of luxury. Get prepared for basic (read: clean) accommodations and to be at one with nature.
Tioman is certainly a place you will not go hungry as stall selling local delights are everywhere! But as with any island locale, meals can get a tad pricey. On the flip side, Tioman is a duty free zone, which somewhat relieves the burn of the wallet.
Whether you are seeking warm beaches, beautiful coral reefs, pristine rainforest or the myths and legends of its past, there is no doubt that Tioman is a jewel in the South China Sea. For more information on Tioman Island, click here.