When Tioman looms into view whilst you're on the ferry, squint your eyes - you'll make out its mythical patron, Tioman's ever-wakeful dragon, poised under a clear blue sky and bathing in the warmth of a generous sun.
Apart from its granite dragon, Tioman actually offers quite a few claims to fame. But perhaps its main draw, first and foremost, is its blissful atmosphere, its one of a kind tranquillity, blended with a typical Malay kampong way of life.
Marooned on paradise
Unlike other holiday destinations offered by Malaysia, such as Penang, Langkawi and Redang, Pulau Tioman still retains most of its original character, nature and beauty.
To be sure, Tioman now boasts a whole array of accommodations, from budget to a handful of stars. And this is the other attraction, Tioman's wide appeal amongst travelers with a lust for sunny paradise beaches, waving coconut trees and calm turquoise seas lapping lazily.
But what lies below these turquoise seas will also amaze. Because Tioman harbors some of the pretties coral gardens this side of Great Barrier Reef. In fact, the density of the coral species Tioman has on offer may well rival that of the iconic reefs off east Australia.
Never a dull moment
But there's more. Jungle-trekking, mountain-hiking, water-falls, Rafflesia, rock-climbing, absailing, kayaking, SUP, even sailing and windsurfing. Tioman offers it all, with glee.
Speaking of glee, if you like to partake of an alcoholic beverage every now and again, then you'll be pleased to hear that Tioman is a duty-free zone. But please, enjoy in moderation, as Tioman is, after all, a muslim community by majority. Some consideration is welcome.
Getting there is half the fun
If you're already in Malaysia, Peninsular Malaysia that is, then just hop on any bus that has Mersing on its route. Mersing is quite a critical node on Malaysia's bus network, courtesy of its ferry terminal to Tioman. So you can catch a bus to Mersing from pretty much any town in Malaysia.
If you're in Singapore, you can catch one of the 5 coaches that go to Mersing. Each has a slightly different departure time and location. Cost and comfort also varies somewhat, but all operators are more than adequate.
Most buses will drop you off at the Mersing Bus Depot. From here, you can walk to the ferry terminal, or, if you've got a lot of luggage, grab a cab.
Once you're at the ferry terminal, collect your ferry tickets. You did think to book online didn't you? Because if you're aiming to get a ferry ticket as a walk-in customer, you're odds are quite slim of getting aboard.
The reason is Mersing's shallow river mouth, which prevents the ferry from sailing at set hours. In fact, the opposite is true, in terms of departure time, no two days are the same, as the vessel requires the high water mark (read: high tide) to stay clear from the bottom.
In other words, booking your ferry tickets in advance is absolutely recommended.