Join STV, as we go Day by Day through our incredible trip to Malaysia... with photos, too!!
DAY 1: Tioman Island
We leave Johor Bahru in the early morning and drive two hours north to Tanjong Gemok. There awaits our ferry.
The ferry is fast, comfortable, and, most importantly, smooth. The dozens of picturesque islands that we sail past make for an exciting cruise. After an hour of sailing, we reach our destination: Tioman Island. Tioman lies 20 miles east from mainland Malaysia. Legend has it that a travelling Dragon Queen fell so in love with these waters, that she decided to stay here forever, and transformed herself into an island.
Blankets upon blankets upon blankets of green canopies stretch down from Tioman’s steep hills to its clean beaches. The thick overgrowth of tropical foliage makes for a dazzling array of texture. The vast majority of Tioman is wild and untamed, and its only settlements and resorts lie on the beach. One local resident gazes at the ascending jungle and admits, “we really don’t know what’s hiding in there.”
The island is 12 miles long and about 7.5 miles wide. There’s one rigorous hiking trail that stretches from one side of the island to the other, but travelling its whole length is discouraged without a guide. It seems as if any minute, the rainforest will reach out with its vines and branches, and haul these beach communities back into the recess of the jungle, without a trace.
The primary forms of transit across the coastline are by scooter or by bicycle. It’s customary to step aside and let these vehicles pass when they come rolling along, which they do frequently. Most of the island’s bays aren’t connected via roads, so you’ll have to use a sea taxi for transit from one to another. Not a bad option, of course, as these journeys are incredibly scenic.
We’re staying at Dive Tioman Resort at ABC Bay, which is located in the northwestern part of the island. We were stunned by Dive Tioman’s wonderful living spaces. The rooms are polished and well-furnished, with great air-conditioning and modern bathrooms. These living quarters are more than comfortable enough to rest and replenish oneself after a day of diving, where you can comfortably scrub away the salt so you can go get salty again.
Speaking of diving, the day’s lone dive is at nearby Renggis Island, a small, satellite island just to the south of us. What strikes us during the dive is the sprawling, healthy coral. The local dive shops make huge efforts here to protect the reefs, and you can tell. Notable marine sightings include a blacktip reef shark, a school of yellowtail barracudas, a few sea turtles (green and hawkspill), a couple of flatworms, and moray eels. The water is a crisp 86 degrees Fahrenheit; you certainly don’t need a wetsuit if that’s not your flavor.
Like all good divers, we celebrate the success of the dive with hearty communing at a beachside bar. The bar is quaint, but lively, with fine drinks and a well-tuned radio churning out American hits from the past six decades. These kinds of little bars and restaurants stretch the entire inhabited portion of ABC Bay, and they’re all staffed by friendly and helpful locals.
The sun sets over the horizon, and we toast, sing, and recount our adventures here and elsewhere. It’s like one of those cheesy cruise line commercials where people happily frolic about a tropical beach, and the unifying language of diverse travellers is a smile and a plastic umbrella. If this isn’t escapism, then we don’t know what is.
Night takes over, and the chirps and howls of the rainforest’s echoing nightlife reminds us of whom the real locals are.
More dives to come tomorrow.
Call us or email us to make your reservation today! 1-800-298-9009
**Each Day of the trip will be posted, check back for updates**
(all writing and pictures copyright of Scuba Travel Ventures)