After a few days in Kuala Lumpur we headed straight for the coast. With only a few weeks in Malaysia we wanted to spend as much time as possible exploring the lush islands, snorkeling in the clear warm waters, and scuba diving with the tropical fish. Tioman Island, near the southeast corner of the main peninsula, was our first stop on our list of island paradises.
To get to Tioman Island we took a three hour ferry from Mersing, and unfortunately we were near the end of the lineup and were part of the dozen passengers that did not get a seat on the small ferry. Huddled in the corners and hallway of the ferry we spent those few hours cursing the overbooked ferry and getting sore bums. Three hours later we got off the boat and immediately forgot about the uncomfortable ride as we were greeted by crystal clear turquoise waters and soft sandy beaches with a lush jungle backdrop. We spent our first afternoon snorkeling off the beach in front of our bungalow and lounging in our hammock. While eating dinner on the beach that evening we were entertained by a distant lightning storm that flickered on the horizon. We both love storms so when we were woken up at 5am the next morning by the wall shaking cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning we went to the beach for a sleepy eyed storm watching session. Lightning blinded us as it cracked less than 5 kilometers away and lit up the entire horizon, but no rain fell allowing us to enjoy the show.
Our main attraction was the diving on Tioman and after being inland for over a month I could not wait to catch up with the ocean and visit my fishy friends. Just near Tioman is a smaller island called Coral Island where the majority of dive sites are located. We signed up for two boat dives and spent the morning with hundreds of tropical fish, a variety of corals, a few nudibranchs, and my personal highlight of the day, a sea turtle.
Our second dive site called Malang Rock, which is the Malay word for unlucky, had huge boulders that stuck out of the ocean and earned its name because unlike the surrounding rocks this particular large boulder didn’t get wet unless it rained. The site was colourful and active with small fish and near the end of the dive our guide took us to a large swimthrough which was a first for Alistair.
The snorkeling off of Tioman was equally amazing as the diving. We waded out along the rocks on the far side of the beach and were surrounded by bright parrot fish before the water was even up to our waist. Gardens of corals in various sizes, shapes, and colours were home to sting rays, trumpet fish, florescent clams, puffer fish, and hundreds of smaller tropical fish. We spent hours floating around pointing out new fish to each other and only when the sun began to set did we drag our pruney selves out of the ocean for the evening.
We were reluctant to depart from Tioman Island because it truly is a slice of paradise, but we have other islands to visit in our short time in this beautiful country. We boarded the earliest ferry back to the mainland, got a seat this time, and proceeded to make our way up the east coast of Malaysia’s mainland peninsula.