Updated 9th September 2016: There is a lot of thing to do in small town of Mersing on east coast of Johor which is located 136 km north of the state capital, Johor Bahru.
But there are exceptionally picturesque and pristine islands you can visit off the coast.
The islands are located off Mersing, Johor and you can easily be reached them by boat.
They feature interesting tourist attractions, along with great places for diving, snorkeling and beach vacation.
The islands have become a very popular destination and this has made it easier to get there.
Mersing Jetty is the best known for its getaway to 9 out of 10 islands, except for Pulau Sibu.
If you are in the area of Mersing, visiting these islands would make for an unforgettable part of your vacation.
So, Are you ready for an island holiday?
Here is the list of beautiful islands (local called: Pulau):
The 10 Must-Visit Islands Off Mersing, Johor
1. Pulau Tioman
Have you ever seen the movie “South Pacific” (1958)? And maybe you remember those picturesque, colorful, bright beaches they called “Bali Hai”?
If so, you can get a pretty good idea of Tioman’s perfect beaches. As this was only on your screen, you are now probably dreaming of experiencing these virgin beaches these virgin beaches yourself.
Well, it is time to get ready for the most unforgettable journey of your life!
Located approximately 56 km off Mersing, Pulau Tioman is the biggest island of the archipelago and is surrounded by numerous coral reefs, making it a popular scuba diving spot.
Just a few meters off the beach, you can easily spot colorful fishes, small sharks and turtles. Besides, the island is also renowned for sunbathing, snorkeling and walking. Here is a sample of the attractions you might want to check out:
- Air Batang, or ABC as the locals call it, is a village spreading for a couple of kilometers along the coast. The beach is especially popular among backpackers. One night in a regular hotel costs around RM70.
- Juara is a picturesque local village and has a quite beach on the eastern coast of the island. If you like walking a jungle path links the village to Tekek, across the island. The trip take around 2,5 hours and is quite steep! During the monsoon season, Juara is also a good place to come surfing.
- Genting Village offers golden sand, dark grey granite boulders and hills covered in lush rainforest. Accommodation is mostly available in affordable chalets. Genting is a very popular spot for Singaporeans and Malaysian tourists.
How To Going Around At Pulau Tioman
To visit these places, you can use local transport such as motorbikes, cars at Tekek and boats (Mersing/Tioman ferry service is the best and cheapest way of hopping from one village to the other). Other options include 4WD “taxis” (RM 60 from Tekek to Juara) or just walking!
All in all, Pulau Tioman is the perfect place for a quiet, slow holiday, filled with walks on the virgin beaches and through the rainforest, swimming, sunbathing and good food among friendly locals.
You will definitely love the beautiful nature and peaceful atmosphere of this authentic, wonderful place.
2. Pulau Aur
Lying about 80 kilometers east of Mersing, Pulau Aur is part of the Johor Marine Park. Though it has not been more than a stopover point for local fishermen for many years, the island is now a popular tourist attraction, notably thanks to its offshore pools, coral lagoons and pristine beaches.
From Pulau Aur, you can also reach the smaller Pulau Dayang. Together, these two islands make a paradise for divers; as the island are further from the coast, the waters are clearer and more species of marine animals can be spotted (think barracuda and manta ray!). A lot of Singaporeans love to come here, even though accommodation is quite basic.
Best Time To Visit Pulau Aur
The weather conditions there are predominantly affected by the monsoon winds that blow from the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
As a consequence, the northeast monsoon brings heavy rainfall to the island between November and March, making the island difficult to access and the waters dangerous to swim in.
Gusts of the southeast monsoons are also present between May and September, making the rest of the year the ideal time to plan a visit.
Though the temperatures are relatively high all year-round, they are lower in the hilly central parts of the island, ranging between 16 °C and 24 °C. It would be a good idea to make plans in accordance.
As it takes four to six hours from Mersing to reach Pulau Aur, our advice would be for you to stay for more than just a weekend. Many Singaporean diving tours offer packages (such as www.friendlywaters.com.sg) with everything already arranged.
3. Pulau Besar
Pulau Besar can be reach after a 30-minute boat journey from Mersing. If you have ever watched the reality TV show Expedition Robinson, you may already know what kind of paradise is awaiting you!
Pristine beaches and nice resorts are awaiting you, along with splendid coral reefs and sea creatures for your snorkeling hours.
The latter is the most popular activity on this island, along with some diving trips to the surrounding islands.
A nice idea is to take a trip to nearby Pulau Harimau, where you will find a delightful cavern filled with a natural pool.
Though the island is relatively small (about 4 kilometers long and 1 kilometer large) you will have a choice between 4 resorts to spend the night in.
D’Coconut is the most comfortable one, with the other three offering more basic beach chalets. They are all located on the same stretch of sand, the rest of Pulau Besar being mostly bordered by rocky cliffs.
Many activities and water sports are available on the island. A beach volley ball pitch is located at the Aseana Resort, for you to have the perfect fitness game with your friends or other travelers. An 18-hole golf course is also available on the island.
What To Do in Pulau Besar
Though the middle of the island is mountainous and steep (the highest point rises at 2 000 feet), there are some nice trekking paths to be taken through the jungle.
They will take you from the resorts area to a small stretch of white sand on the other side of the island. Guides can be booked from the hotels if you’d like to go off the beaten path!
Finally, you can also go spend some time with the locals in the kelongs and discover their fishing methods and way of life.
From Singapore, full board packages to Pulau Besar can be booked from small travel agencies in People’s Park Complex (2nd level) and Pearl Center (2nd or 3rd level).
Be careful of choosing the right island, as there is another Pulau Besar in Malaysia, located off Melacca on the west coast of the peninsula.
4. Pulau Pemanggil
Pulau Pemanggil lies 45 kilometers away from Mersing jetty, requiring a 4,5 hours boat journey to reach its shore.
Along with clear water and gold sand beaches, Pulau Pemanggil will offer you the traditional folklore of its kampung, unforgettable fishing sessions and tasty durians and mangoes straight from the tree.
The history of the island is marked by a myth, telling the story of an Indonesian man who was drifting near Pulau Pemaggil with his family.
One night, the man dream about a voice, presumably belonging to the guardian of the island, advising him to settle there.
More called people followed shortly after, coming both from Indonesia and Pulau Aur. This is where Pulau Pemanggil got its name from, as it means “the caller” in Malay.
Today, the guardian of the island is believed to be living on Batu Buau, a rock located at the heart of the land, where offers are regularly made.
Fishing Trip at Pulau Pemanggil
The island is most famous for its amazing coral reefs, so some snorkeling will be in order. These reefs are also home to a significant number of marine species, and fishing lovers will be in heaven.
Many actually say that Pulau Pemanggil is no less than the best fishing spot in Malaysia, and is ideal for deep-sea fishing.
Some fishing trips specialize in big catches such as black marlins, dorado, shark, stingray or tuna. Some interested methods, such as baitless fishing, can also be used.
In a word, you will be in for a treat! Dorado can be found in May and June and mackerel in the summer, while other species are available year-round.
From the resorts, it is also possible to rent some canoes or even jet skis to explore the shore at your own pace.
Only one hotel, the Lanting Beach Resort is available on the island, so make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Please note that no alcoholic beverages are sold on the island, so pack accordingly if you wish to enjoy a beer or two under the sun.
5. Pulau Rawa
A small, beautiful island, surrounded by clear deep blue water, Pulau Rawa is located 16 km off the coast. The island will mainly attract you for its amazing white beaches, as the interior is only thick jungle, hard to penetrate.
Considering the small size of the island, there is no local transportation on Rawa. It would barely take 15 minutes to walk up and down the island’s western coast.
The eastern side, barred with rocky cliffs, is inaccessible. When the sea is calm, you will have the opportunity to rent a canoe and paddle around the island.
This is certainly the best way to grasp the real grandeur of the rugged cliffs and its caves that could never be observed otherwise, and will give you a completely different view of the island.
However, do not venture on this side of the island in bad weather, as there is no safe harbour and the wind and waves may push you towards the open sea.
What To Do In Rawa Island
Soft white sands and azure water create the picture perfect setting of a dream vacation. Furthermore, as soon as you step into the sea, you will be amazed by the diversity of the coral reef and the marine life.
Resorts can provide you with snorkeling gear and equipment, but be careful of jellyfish at all times!
For those of you who prefer the solid ground, a short walk up the 270 steps is doable to the top of the cliffs on the eastern coast, revealing a panoramic view to the coast of Johor and other islands within the Marine Park.
Also read: How To Get To Rawa Island From Singapore
This is the perfect sport to observe the best sunrise and sunset. Other activities include beach volleyball, wind surfing (if weather conditions are good), personalized fishing tours arranged at your request and of course, relaxing in the sun or under a coconut tree. In a nutshell, welcome to paradise.
Travel To Rawa Island Tips & Hints
From Mersing, Rawa is only a 30 min speed boat ride away, or 1 hour with a normal ferry. It is ideal to check the ferry timings in advance and plan the trip accordingly since the ferry times vary in accordance with the weather conditions.
It is also possible to visit Rawa on the way back from Pulau Tioman. As there is no TV and no phone line, prepare yourself for an amazingly relaxing time, away from all your troubles.
6. Pulau Tinggi
Nicknamed the “General’s Hat Island” by Chinese seamen hundreds of years ago, Pulau Tinggi is 32 km south east and a 45 minute boat ride from Mersing jetty.
Rich in history and once an important stop over for fishermen and spice traders (probably thanks to its sheltered harbor), the island is best known today for its sandy pearl white beaches, rolling peaks with rich vegetation and thick jungles, its Marine Park Centre, little fishermen hamlets and modern chalets.
The Marine Park Centre provides useful information regarding the island and should be visited to discover the role played by the island in turtle hatchery and giant clam breeding.
Outdoor activities include water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing and fishing. The tropical jungles form a backdrop to the island and jungle trekking in the hilly jungle should also be considered.
After a 35-40 minute walk, you can reach a nice waterfall in the middle of the forest with a small lagoon. It is better to avoid going alone though, as the path is not clearly marked.
You can easily ask for a guide at your hotel. It is also just a few minutes away from Pulau Sibu by boat. However, the best thing to do on Pulau Tinggi is nothing! Or, more exactly, laze under the sun, read, and relax.
The fishermen, their simple lives and their little hamlets are a refreshing sight and another source of inspiration. Villagers are friendly and keen to serve tourists. This will give you is an abundance of experience and memories that you will keep forever!
7. Pulau Sibu
Known as the Sibu Islands, Pulau Sibu actually regroups several islets. The smaller islands are namely Pulau Sibu Hujung, Pulau Sibu Besar, Pulau Sibu Kukus and Pulau Sibu Tengah. Some of these islands were also the décor of some seasons of the TV show Expedition Robinson.
Sibu Besar, covered by thick vegetation, is the main islet. The eastern side of the island has four main beaches, which will offer you white sand, clear water and no crowds.
As the island never gets more than 1 kilometer wide and is mostly flat, it is easy to cross from one side to another to enjoy all the different beaches and points of view it has to offer.
There are no roads, so you will not get disturbed by the traffic. This will make your holiday even more relaxing.
On the southern coast, the island is protected from winds, making the sea so calm it looks like a lake and is a haven to swim in. Due to those remarkable conditions, you can also see some mangrove trees growing on the shore.
Sibu Besar is a popular weekend getaway, as it is only a mere 3 hour drive from Singapore. I
ndeed, it is the only island on this list to be served not by the Mersing jetty, but by the Tanjong Leman one, located closer to the city-State.
No public transport is available, so you will have to arrange your boat transfers with your chosen resort.
What To Do In Pulau Sibu
Watersport activities such as snorkeling and diving are the main recreation on this island. Shallow water diving is an exquisite sport since the region is spread with beautiful corals.
You can also find a dive center in the Sea gypsy Village resort, where PADI courses can be booked. Sailing and windsurfing can also be easily practiced.
An interesting fact about Pulau Sibu Besar is that the village of Kampung Duku is entirely solar powered. Lovers of renewable energies, you will be blessed!
8. Pulau Harimau
Pulau Harimau, which when translated means the Tiger Island, is a deserted location that is not inhabited.
This island shows no signs of life but is indeed a very perfect location for most scuba divers and those who wish to do snorkeling.
Pulau Harimau is located in Mersing, Johor Darul Ta’zim and can be reached from the Mersing Jetty by boat.
This island is a divers paradise as it offers breathtaking seascape features which are so unique and attractive to any visitor.
It has a cavern that can be easily reached when one snorkels from the drop off point at the beach.
This cavern has no roof and forms a wonderful little private pool where both snorkelers and divers can take time off to enjoy the waters and the breeze.
The location is very peaceful and serene and offers maximum relaxation not only to the divers but to anybody that is interested in visiting this deserted but exciting island off the coast of Mersing.
9. Pulau Dayang
Pulau Dayang is located on the western parts of Johor Bahru and is part of an island that also consists of others which include Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Lang and Pulau Aur.
This island which has a series of locations offers you the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation with various water sport activities. It is also one of the best diving destination in Malaysia to see the marine life.
Dayang Island is a tourist destination location which is well known for scuba diving and snorkeling activities. Scuba divers are treated to an array of marine life which are found under the sea.
Marine life that can be found in this island include a wide number of rays, whales and sharks.
Diving courses are provided here for both beginners and advanced divers. These diving sessions usually run from February through to November.
Top class accommodation is also provided by various hotels, chalets and resorts which are found within vicinity of this island.
To reach there you need to drive up to Mersing Jetty where you can board a boat to the island. The island is also near Besar Island which is just a 45-minute boat ride away.
10. Pulau Tengah
Pulau Tengah is owned privately and lies about 9 miles off the coast of Mersing on the South China Sea.
The island is famous due to the fact that it was a Vietnamese refugee camp in the 70s that was closed in the early 80s.
This gives a historical perspective to the island apart from the fact that it has also been used in producing a TV show known as Expedition Robinson in 1997.
Tengah Island is among the few islands in Malaysia that have been gazetted as a Marine Park because of its vibrant marine life feature and also the availability of rare special types of fish and corals.
You can reach this island from Mersing Jetty by taking a boat, a trip which lasts about 30 minutes.
The island is a very popular tourist destination spot given its historical significance and status as a widely recognized Marine Park in Malaysia.
Best Time To Visit Islands In Johor
The ideal months to visit these islands would be between April and September, as you will be likely to get the best weather.
The monsoon blows off in December and January, so it is best to stay away from the islands during these two months. In practical terms, very few boats would be ready to take you anyway!
Make sure your trip is well organized prior to your traveling dates, to avoid ending up on an island without a place to stay.
Remember, that those islands are very popular among Singaporeans, and that there are quite many of us!
Every island has its very own specialty, but lucidness and tranquility are found predominant.
There are umpteen different activities that have been catered to for tourists and all of them reflect a sense of sincerity in the human nature.
The activities vary widely from the best snorkeling and diving options to an amazingly relaxing weekend on the beach with loved ones catching up on all the lost time.
Travel Tips To Johor Island
1.) Avoid High Tides!
The major cause of concern when you wish to make the trip over should be the tides, especially during the full moon and the new moon.
Indeed, at these times the tides can be either very high or very low, thus affecting the traffic to and from the Mersing Jetty.
This is actually the main reason behind the specific timings of the boat transfers. As a consequence, it is best to enquire in advance and arrange your transfer prior to a scheduled holiday to Mersing and her gorgeous islands.
2.) If you are travel to Pulau Tioman, Pulau Aur, Pulau Besar, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Harimau, Pulau Tengah and Pulau Dayang. Please go to Mersing Jetty (local called Jeti Penumpang).
3.) If you are travel to Pulau Sibu and Pulau Tinggi, please go to Tanjung Leman Jetty.
Transport from Singapore To Johor Island
1. Singapore To Mersing Jetty By Private Car
Not too far but just a few kilometers away off of Mersing, numerous islands where you can find rejuvenation and various activities are waiting for you.
Getting to all these islands requires a boat transfer. The transfers can be arranged prior to your visit, usually through the hotels and resorts, in order to avoid inconvenience as the availability either by speed boat or regular ferry is limited to specific hours during the day.
SGMYTAXI is popularly known in the region and provides excellent private transfer service to all the destinations, including cross border transfers. Dedicated to their service, SGMYTAXI provides comfortable journey, affordable, luxury vehicles with customized pick up points.
They cater to flexible schedules with booking systems that are user friendly with no booking charges and pre-payments. At affordable prices the service provides reliable and well trained drivers, thus ensuring you will have the most memorable holiday.
2. Singapore to Mersing Jetty By Bus
The islands off Mersing are pretty well connected to Singapore. The easiest option is to travel by road, taking your own car, hiring a van or a taxi or taking a coach.
The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours to reach Mersing from downtown Singapore, but be ready to expect longer traveling times on busy weekends and holidays, as the crossing of the straight and clearing of immigration will most probably be crowded.
If you are heading to Tanjung Leman Jetty, you can expect a 3-hour drive.
If you would like to take a coach, head to Johor Bahru Larkin bus station first, and take a ride from there. The journey will cost you around RM13 to RM18.
Three companies make the trip (Transnasional, Causeway Link and S&S International), offering more or less the same service. Several departures are available throughout the day. In Mersing, the coach will drop about a 10-minute walk away from the jetty.