When we first planned our 21-day round trip around Malaysia, the place we kept reading about was Tioman island, located 30 kms off the east coast of the Malay peninsula. It’s quite a journey to get there, but if we could stay there a few nights, it might be worth it. We were looking for a beach location, so Juara beach on the east side of the island seemed to fit the bill.
To get there, we took the Tioman Island Ferry, then headed out over the central highlands to our pre-booked accommodation at Juara beach.
1511, Coconut Grove on Juara beach comprises 8 to 10 compact but comfortable raised wooden beach chalets. The management and staff are very welcoming, and helped us with advice on the local areas of interest, and to fine-tune our onward journey. We paid €37 per night for our chalet, including breakfast.
It’s advisable to book a few weeks in advance as there is limited accommodation at Juara beach. This is a blessing, as the area has managed to retain a really relaxed, natural, low-key atmosphere, far from the tourist-trap feel of other, more easily-accessible resorts.
The beach immediately in front of our chalet is popular with surfers, both local and foreign, although during our stay there were just a couple of small groups.
Watch out for the sand flies!
Before heading onto the beach, you need to protect yourself from the ubiquitous sand flies. The bites from these tiny, almost invisible pests leave large, red itchy bumps.
These bumps are several times as itchy as mosquito bites, and tend to last longer as well. After a day or so, they can turn into weeping open sores and are at risk from infection. Some people are more susceptible than others, but this can put a serious dampener on your holiday.
Backed up by a mountainous rain forest, Juara beach stretches for 2 kms, and is bordered on either side by rivers flowing down into the sea. This is perfect for an early morning walk or run.
You can hire a bicycle or a small motorbike, but in any case you will be spending some time enjoying the trip up and down this stretch of beach to find the restaurants and few small shops located mainly at the northern end.
There is a choice of 6 or so places to eat and drink (although only one of them sells alcohol – not far from the long jetty). Overall, the standard of food is very good.
We particularly enjoyed the food at the Kak Long restaurant. Reputedly, the best food in Juara is served here. I was also informed that this was the only place where the chef does not use MSG (monosodium glutamate – a flavour enhancer) in the food.
We ate at this restaurant a lot and were not disappointed. Great banana juices and spicy curry and noodles – the sambal fish is very good, too. You need to get there early in the day (before lunch) if you want to sample their rotis – they’re delicious!
During our short stay at Juara beach, we took a trek to visit a waterfall deep in the Tioman rainforest – a highly recommended activity and a great place for a picnic.
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