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Withdraw from the humming Langkawi and head to the languid Tioman instead

When one thought of a luxury escapade, Langkawi and Redang sprung to mind instinctively. With several luxury boutique resorts spread out across the island, Tioman Island might be a wiser choice for those who want to take on life unhurriedly. 

The largest island on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is a geological marvel landmarked by a kilometre-tall outcrop whose imposing shadows cast a sea of darkness on the surrounding dense vegetation, inhabited by diffident creatures scarcely seen in the flesh. The binturong, slow lorises and mouse deer are known to roam among the vines and detritus scattered on the forest floor. Separated from the mainland by a body of cerulean waters, Tioman is teeming with terrestrial and marine wildlife. 

Local legend has it that the mythical dragon Sri Gumom defied the order to meet with his sister Gunung Linga. The consequence of breaking such forbiddance was the petrification of Sri Gumom, which now rests in the bottom of the ocean, forming the island’s breath-taking topography.  

Traversed only on foot – complemented occasionally by scooters and more frequently by water taxis – Tioman has remained unscathed by mass tourism. Time appears to have neglected Tioman despite the decreed duty-free status to boost its vacationist appeal. That’s not to say the island is bereft of tourist attractions. Far from it. Most if not all are intertwined with nature.  

Forget the gondola and the skybridge of Langkawi and other appurtenances of tourism, in Tioman, they revolve around free diving, scuba excursions, paddle boarding, trekking from village to village and pausing at numerous waterfalls. When the sun is ready to relent for the day, you can retire to the comfort of your lodging of choice to soothe those throbbing feet.  

The best luxury boutique resorts on Tioman Island:

Located in the southwestern tip of Tioman, Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort is blessed with a private beach, offering fiercely guarded privacy for sun seekers. Enveloped by lush greenery and sheltered from the elements by soaring peaks, the resort houses 54 villas, each with distinctive vistas. Adorable creatures such as turtles, clown fish and reef sharks are ready to satiate your curiosity in turquoise waters beyond the resort’s infinity pool. Journey deep into the jungle where Asah waterfalls await your discovery. Indulge at Sarang Spa to rejuvenate the sun-kissed skin. The resort delights guests with all-day dining and a bar that shutters at midnight. Activities on-site include batik painting and snorkeling.

Address
Lot 20 & 21, Sarang Burung, Kg. Mukut, 26800 Pulau Tioman, Pahang

Eco-friendly luxury at its fashionably best, Japamala Resort is a collection of 13 beautifully appointed chalets fringed by powdery-white sand and verdant coconut palms lurching to the hypnotic rhythm of the gentle breeze. Occupying a western cove of the island, the resort boasts no neighbouring properties. Complete privacy is a guarantee. In its formation, no trees were felled. Every element of its architecture is meant to blend in with its magnificent surroundings whether it’s tree-top or ocean-front. Each unit is specifically appointed so a return trip is warranted. An affiliate partner of Tioman Dive Centre and NDL SMB Tioman, the resort can enrol guests in various diving courses in accordance to their experience. 

Address
Kampung Lanting, 26800, Pahang

Secluded, rustic, eco-conscious and evocative of a Malay village dwelling, the family-run Melina Beach Resort is imbued with a forgotten warmth through architecture and personalised service. While it offers facilities on par with other luxury boutique resorts, its best amenity isn’t man made. Off the crescent beach is a house reef teeming with a kaleidoscope of marine life. It is a dream of many who choose to stay here to immerse beneath the waves and frolic with these playful creatures. The all-day-dining restaurant specialises in Italian fare and rotates its menu on a daily basis. If idling is all you intend to do, book a session at Lemongrass Spa. 

Address
Kg Genting, 26800 Pulau Tioman, Pahang
Justin Ng
Digital Content Director, Kuala Lumpur
Often think of myself as a journalist and so I delve deeper into a range of topics. Talk to me about current affairs, watches, travel, drinks, new experiences and more importantly, the business, economics and dynamics behind it.