Tioman Island is one of the most popular scuba diving destination in Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia). Here, we explore some of the things you need to know about this wonderful tropical island and a brief write-up on our Sept-2016 weekend scuba diving trip to this gem.
- PADI Open Water Course (Tioman Island, Salang Village)
- Experience Miri (Sarawak, Malaysia): Scuba Diving and Niah National Park
What you need to know about Tioman Island
Tioman is a forested and sparsely populated island in the Pahang state of Malaysia. Approximately 32km off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Tioman is most famous for its abundance of coral reefs, making it one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the region. According to numerous websites, Tioman was nominated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands by TIME Magazine during the 1970s (though we could not verify this with source).
Dive season is from February to November (dry season). Outside this season, most (if not all) of the tourist activities on Tioman grind to a halt, as the rough seas routinely make it hard for the ferries to get to the island.
Villages on Tioman
There are close to a dozen coastal villages (or “kampong” in Malay) on Tioman, the largest being Tekek in the northwest. There are no villages inland due to the mountainous terrain.
Unsurprisingly, most of the available limited public services/amenities on Tioman are located in Tekek, including the island’s only clinic and airstrip. Regrettably, as at the time of writing, there are no commercial flights serving the island.
Most of the other smaller coastal villages (e.g. Salang, Genting) are scattered around the western part of the island, where most of the dive sites are located. These villages are generally small enough for one to walk from end-to-end in a manner of minutes. Most have a limited but sufficient network of mini-marts, restaurants, burger joints, dive shops etc. Some villages (like Salang) have great beaches with calm water and coral reefs close to shore, enabling snorkeling and other beach-based water activities.
Your overall experience in Tioman varies greatly depending on which village/resort you’re based in. Since the dive sites are relatively close to shore, you’ll be spending a great deal of time in your village/resort. There are a host of accommodation options on Tioman, from beautiful resorts to dilapidated lodges. It PAYS to find out about the condition/cleanliness of your accommodation BEFORE your trip. Check out the online reviews before booking. [We cannot stress more on this point. It could make or break your entire trip.]
Mobile/Internet access in Tioman
Mobile network is available on Tioman. However, it only appears to be consistent in the larger villages. The networks at the smaller villages (like Genting/Salang) are patchy at best. Some accommodation has free/paid Wi-Fi services.
Getting to Tioman
With the cessation of commercial flights to Tioman, ferries are the only way to get to the island. Most (if not all) ferries to Tioman originate from Mersing Jetty. Mersing is a small town located on the northeastern tip of Malaysia’s Johor State.
During season, Blue Water Ferry operates between Mersing and Tioman, 2-3 times daily (journey takes 1-2 hours). Typically, schedule for the ferry would only be announced 1-2 weeks in the preceding month. There are a number of ticket sellers available at Mersing Jetty. Having said, it is strongly advised to pre-book the tickets via your resort/dive operator before travelling.
Our Sept-2016 Weekend Scuba Diving trip to Tioman (Genting Village)
On the weekend of 23-25/Sept-2016, we took on a trip (leisure dive) to Tioman (from Singapore). It was organized by Eko Divers and led by a team of fun & passionate dive masters/instructors from Asia Dive Academy.
This is the 2nd time we’re diving in Tioman, the first when we took our Open Water Diver course in early-2015. Though the trip was hectic, tiring and “less than comfy”, nevertheless, it was fun and rewarding. We even made a few new friends along the way!
Below are some details/feedback of the trip.
Chronology of events:
- 6pm: Met at Eko Divers office in York Hill (near Outram Park MRT) for registration and collection of dive equipment.
- 7.30pm: Left York Hill in 2 coaches, headed for Malaysia via Tuas 2nd Link.
- ~10.30pm: Cleared Malaysia immigration. Delay due to jam at both Singapore and Malaysia immigration.
- ~11.30pm: 30 minutes stop at a petrol station in Johor Bahru for a quick “dinner”.
- ~2am: Reached Mersing Jetty. Boarded a boat for Tioman.
- ~4am: Reached Genting village, Tioman. Assigned accommodation and proceed to rest.
- 9am: Boarded dive boat after breakfast to start our full day of diving (day + night dive). Lunch on-board.
- 8pm-9pm: Returned to Genting village for dinner and rest for the day.
- 8am: Boarded dive boat after breakfast to start our half-day of diving.
- 12.30pm: End of diving. Return to Genting village for lunch, wash-up and checkout.
- 2pm: Boarded boat for return journey to Mersing Jetty.
- 4.30pm: Boarded coach at Mersing Jetty for return trip to Singapore via Tuas 2nd Link.
- 9pm: Reach Eko Divers office in Singapore. Delay due to heavy traffic at Malaysia immigration.
Review of accommodation (Damai Resort, Genting Village):
Due to the size of the entire group, it was split into 3 different accommodations within Genting village. In particular, we were assigned to Damai Resort. This proved to be our biggest misfortune for the entire trip.
We hardly ever gave negative comments on accommodations. However, Damai Resort has to be the worst we ever experienced by a mile. Dirty. Cockroach infested rooms. Electricity and water cut-off for prolonged periods. Blocked toilet drainage. No toilet paper provided. Unresponsive staffs. The list goes on. The entire “resort” is dilapidated. There’s no chance we’ll ever stay there again. Period.
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