One of the highlights of our trip around Malaysia and Borneo would be our visit to Tioman island on the east coast of the Malay peninsula. To get there, we needed to reach the port town of Mersing from where we could take a ferry across. Although we arrived at the terminal building in the morning, the Tioman island ferry wasn’t due to leave until early afternoon.
Depending on the weather, the ferry times can vary. There is an elaborate ticketing process, friendly staff, and a comfortable “departure” area. Return tickets cost RM70: There is even a discount for the over 50s.
Tioman Island Ferry – Know your “Kampong”
Since the ferry stops at several locations on Tioman island, you can save yourself a lot of stress by knowing in advance at which jetty or “kampong” (village) you want to disembark.
The boat handlers don’t hang around at the various stops, so you have to be ready – with your bag(s) – to exit the boat. This can be difficult as the handlers also insist you put large rucksacks, etc. in a separate area from the seating areas of the boat.
This is the order of the stops on the way to Tioman:
1. Kampong Genting
2. Kampong Paya (Don’t mistake “Paya” for “Berjaya”, which is accessible from the next stop)
3. Kampong Tekek (Disembark here if you’re going to Berjaya, Tekek or Juara)
4. Kampong Air Batang (Also announced as “ABC”)
5. Kampong Salang
It is the reverse order on the way back from Tioman to Mersing, but then at least you’re not likely to miss your stop. If you fly over to Tioman, the airport is at Tekkek, right opposite the jetty.
The boat is comfortable enough, though it can get quite crowded, and there’s a bit of a scramble to get on/off at the various stops.
It can take around 2 hours to reach your destination, taking into account the various jetty stops.
Before starting our trip to Malaysia, I had emailed the owner of the resort we were staying at in Juara (on the other side of Tioman island). He told us to disembark at Tekkek.
He said there would be a few local taxi boys waiting there, who would take us Juara for RM35 per person one way.
Taxi over the Mountain
The taxi was actually a 4×4, which is just as well considering the steepness of the central mountain over which we had to travel to get to the other side of the island.
This leg of the journey took around 40 minutes.
Before leaving, the taxi driver asked if we wanted to pick up any supplies in the supermarket, since there are no real shops in Juara where we were heading. This actually is not a bad idea.
The tantalizing 5-minute drive along this stretch makes it clear why these beaches were depicted in the 1958 movie, South Pacific as Bali Hai. We were now looking forward to 4 nights here – our longest stay in one place during this trip.
After 4 days in Tioman we would be taking a series of flights down to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo to begin the second half of our Malaysian journey.
If you’re interested in the Tioman Island Ferry, check out our East Malaysia & Borneo adventures. You may also like: