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Johor Islands and Beaches

Posted by on Aug 7th, 2007
Filed Under: beach, Johor

Johor, the southernmost state of the peninsular, is steeped in history and is a haven for nature lovers. The state has an unbroken coastline flanked by the South China Sea in the east, extending around its southern tip to the western shoreline overlooking the straits of Malacca. Johor Bahru the state capital is the site of several historical buildings and landmarks.

The magical islands of Johor are endowed with crystal clear waters, powdery white sand and colourful marine life. Dubbed the “Robinson Islands” in Scandinavia, the islands of Johor served as the location of the popular Expedition Robinson series akin to Survivor.

The most popular beach resort destination in Johor especially during school holidays is Desaru, which literally means Village of Casuarinas. Desaru Beach located in the east coast of Kota Tinggi District offers 26km stretch of pristine sandy beach fringed by causirina trees and is ideal for a wide variety of activities.

Like a necklace of glittering jewels, the islands of Sibu, Rawa, Pemanggil, Aur, Tinggi, Besar, Tengah, Mensirip and Hujung lay nestled off Johor’s eastern coast. They are accessible from the Tanjung Leman jetty, 60 km from Mersing, a charming coastal town and the jump-off point to the world-renowned Tioman Island. The availability of boats for hire makes island hopping one of the most enjoyable activity here. The breathtaking beautiful islands offer crystal clear waters and a rich diversity of marine life and magnificent coral reefs which are an irresistible lure for visitors. Over twenty of the islands are protected and designated marine parks where one can come in close contact with nature. Some of the islands feature picturesque fishing villages and lush green vegetation inviting you to explore further away from the beach. For some adventure, hike through the jungle trails leading to unspoilt mangrove swamps.


Pulau Besar, literally Big Island is a secluded island with beautiful private stretches of soft beaches, clear blue waters and splendid coral reefs. Believed to be the location of Malaysia’s earliest civilization, you will be intrigued by its tales of mermaids and princesses as well as sacred graves and shrines. An outstanding destination for diving, fishing, swimming, and snorkeling, you can also explore the inner forested regions of the islands, trekking through the forest.


Two other Johor islands, lying further from the coast, are Pulau Pemanggil and Pulau Aur. Pulau Pemanggil is rather large and a popular resort destination, noted for its abundant marine life and clear waters. Southeast of Pemanggil is Pulau Aur, a small island with three nearby islands “Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lang and Pulau Pinang” which offers you some of the best underwater sights. These islands are rated among the best diving destinations within the Johor Marine Park area. The deeper waters around the area ensure good visibility and variety of marine life. The rich pelagic action also attracts sport fishermen, hoping to try their luck with the marlins or sailfish outside the marine park island. Interesting formations around the island include Rayner’s Rock and the Pinnacles. Rayner’s Rock is a solitude large boulder which breaks the surface at about 4 metres, located 200 metres off Pulau Dayang. The Pinnacles is a submerge reef located towards south of Pulau Aur and Pulau Pinang.


Pulau Tinggi lies further south along the Peninsula, rising a majestic 667 metres above sea level. The mountainous and largely uninhabited Pulau Tinggi is naturally endowed with fresh water, a sheltered harbor, fruits, rattan, and timber, as well as some very fine beaches. It is said to have once been a very important stop over for spice traders over 600 years ago. Pulau Tinggi’s long coastline of white sand, dotted with intimate coves may seem to you to be reason enough to visit this beautiful island, but it also has other treasures awaiting you. The island is well known for the vividly hued coral reefs, teeming with marine life, which sit offshore, a definite heaven for divers and snorkellers.


Pulau Sibu is a refreshing hideaway which is awash with lush tropical vegetation and endless stretches of golden beaches, In addition to the usual facilities for snorkeling, diving, wind surfing, sailing, and angling, here you can indulge in a whole range of other exciting activities; numerous sea caves carved out of rocks can be found around the islands. Its water also hides marvelous coral reefs and mysterious shipwrecks of Chinese junks and pirate boats, which are the results of pitted battles in the past. The unspoilt mangrove swamps are an enticement to spend some time away from the beach. In addition you could see the kelongs or visit the village to see how the villagers on this beautiful island spend their time.


Pulau Tengah, which together with several other islands is gazette as a Marine Park offers you the seldom found opportunity to watch the great leatherback turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in July every year. Uninhibited at one time this sanctuary now offers you spacious and comfortable accommodation.


Pulau Upeh is another island for turtle watching – this tiny island has two landing sites where Hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs. The island’s other attractions include the British Memorial Mast and relics from World War II. There is also an 80 foot observation tower on the island which offers exciting beautiful views.


Pulau Rawa is a really beautiful island wonderfully covered with white sands, coves, and superb clear waters and shaded by tall palm trees. The island has many fascinating caves made for exploration and divine offshore coral reefs brightly lit by the many neon0coloured fishes and unusual marine life. And the breathtaking Rawa Island Resort, set amidst all these, make Pulau Rawa a haven for fishing, scuba-diving, shell collecting, lobster hunting and underwater photography. Throughout these years, Rawa Safaris Island Resort has grown into an idyllic international class resort. The resort has rooms of varying standards and sizes with the units built on the hill sides, or a few metres from the beach – directing fronting the ocean. The wooden chalets nestled amongst coconut groves complement the island’s reputation as a quaint hideaway.


Closer to shore you can visit Pulau Kukup which is one of the largest uninhabited mangrove islands in the world. There are lots to explore on this island but the interior is not easily accessible. The boardwalk which takes you around the easter part of the island lets you observe the mangrove life and different vegetation on the forest floor. At the end of the boardwalk, scale up a six storey high tower to get an excellent bird’s eye view of the island. An excellent bird watching perch – don’t forget your binoculars!
Mersing is the staging point to Johor’s islands in the South China Sea. It is 138 km north of Johor Bahru or a 2 hour drive from there. Life here moves at a casual pace as trawlers prepare to sail out to sea from this fishing town. Tourists can also make travel arrangements with tour operators stationed here.

Getting There
By Road
From Kuala Lumpur exit Kluang in Johor on the North-South Expressway to either the
Mersing or Tanjung Leman departure point. The two locations can also be accessed from Johor Bahru via Kota Tinggi. It takes about 4 hours to reach Mersing from Kuala Lumpur by car or 6 hours by coach. From Singapore, Mersing can be reached in two and half hours.

By Rail
KTM has rail services from Kuala Lumpur to Kluang. From Kluang, public transport is available to the jetty.

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