Tioman a stunning island just of the southeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia. While not a very big island, just 10 km wide and 20 km long, Tioman Island has a lot to offer.
There are amazing beaches, laidback tiny villages, big lizards, and a magnificent marine reserve with plenty of interesting underwater creatures, such as turtles, sharks, and lots of colorful tropical fish. Scuba diving in Tioman is definitely one of the best things to do on this beautiful island!
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Scuba diving in Tioman
When to visit Tioman Island?
Tioman is not a year-round destination. Monsoon season closes off the island for tourists between November and February.
Please note that Tioman Island can get very busy during peak season (November-December and Chinese New Year), especially on the weekends. Many people from Singapore and KL visit the island to get away from the city and enjoy Tioman’s tropical vibe.
On the other hand, we visited Tioman in May for a midweek (Monday to Friday) and the island was pretty much deserted during our trip. Also, the weather was excellent and underwater visibility was great as well.
If you plan to travel during peak season, I recommend booking your jetty ticket and accommodation in advance to make sure you’ll have a nice place to stay on Tioman. Below you can find my hotel recommendations.
How to travel from Singapore to Tioman Island
Many people decide to travel from Singapore to Malaysia, which is also what we did. In the table below you can find the nitty-gritty details of our trip from Singapore to Tioman.
|Kranji MRT station||Singapore border||SBS 170 bus||2,40 SGD per person|
|Malaysian border||JB Sentral||SBS 170 bus||same bus ticket (don’t throw away!)|
|JB Sentral||Larkin Bus Terminal||SBS 170 bus||same bus ticket (don’t throw away!)|
|Larkin Bus Terminal||Mersing Bus and Taxi Terminal||bus company||17,60 MYR per person|
|Mersing Bus and Taxi Terminal||Mersing Jetty Pier||foot||none (10-15 minute walk)|
|Mersing Jetty Pier||Salang Jetty Pier||boat||35 MYR one-way per person (70 MYR return)|
Singapore to Mersing
From the Kranji MRT station, take bus SBS170 (you can buy a ticket on the bus). The bus will take you to the Singapore-Malaysian border where you’ll have to get off the bus (with your luggage).
You’ll pass through immigration and receive an exit stamp for Singapore and an entry stamp for Malaysia. Outside the immigration building, bus SBS170 will be waiting to take you to the Larkin bus terminal (via JB Sentral).
Remember to keep your SBS170 bus ticket, you can use it all the way to the Larkin bus terminal in Johor Bahru!
At Larkin bus terminal, you can buy a bus ticket to Mersing. We purchased our tickets from Transnasional (17.60MYR per person) but you can also book a bus ticket online. Buses are comfortable and have reclining seats and a power outlet.
The journey from Larkin bus terminal to Mersing takes approximately three hours. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can either directly catch a jetty to Tioman, or spend the night in Mersing and take the morning jetty.
Important note: departure times of the jetty are dependent upon the tide. The schedule can usually be found online.
Mersing itself isn’t very interesting, so you don’t need to linger to do sightseeing. If you plan to stay the night, check out the highest-rated hotels in Mersing here.
Mersing to Tioman
From the Mersing bus and taxi terminal, it’s only a 1kilometer walk to the jetty pier. At the pier, you look for the sign with Bluewater on it, this is the company operating the jetty.
At the Bluewater office, you can buy your jetty tickets, a single way ticket costs 35MYR and a return ticket is 70MYR.
It’s possible to purchase a return ticket with a ‘flexible’ return date. Note that when purchasing the ticket, you will need to set a return date.
However, once you are at Tioman, you can ask your accommodation to contact Bluewater if you change your mind about your departure date (though obviously that’s only possible if that date hasn’t passed already, it’s easy to lose track of time on this tropical speck in the ocean;-).
After you’ve purchased your ticket(s), you need to pay the Marine Park entrance fee which is 30MYR per adult.
Once you’ve got your ticket and paid the Marine Park conservation fee, cross the street to the Jetty Pier and go to the counter at the entrance to get your actual boarding pass.
Now just wait until the jetty arrives and once it does, get on board and let the boat staff know at which village you’ll be disembarking.
Alternatively, book your ferry ticket for Tioman online to make sure you get a seat on your desired travel date.
What I love about scuba diving
Do you know that feeling of falling in love? The excitement? That feeling of general happiness? The adrenaline coursing through your veins when you catch a glimpse of your great love? The pounding of your heart when you know you’ll soon meet again? The butterflies in your stomach because are so excited about every little detail of your newfound crush?
That’s how I feel about scuba diving! Since I got my PADI Open Water I’ve been in love with the magical underwater world.
Whenever I see a scuba diving picture somewhere, my heart skips a beat, because I know the feeling of freedom and being in complete awe of the amazing underwater world diving gives you. Well gives me, in any case. I am definitely still a diving newbie, with just 30-something dives in my log.
But I am planning to do a lot more diving and slowly but surely fill up that little booklet of mine…
Scuba diving in Tioman Island
I went diving in several countries around the world, amongst which the famous Barrier Reef in Australia. However, I can say without a doubt that Tioman was the best scuba diving I have done so far!
Why you may ask? Well, for several reasons:
#1. The variety of fish and coral
The coral was just stunning, it looked like underwater flower fields… In fact, you could see the coral straight from the jetty pier!
And the marine life… amazing! In a 45 minute dive I saw a turtle, a giant moray eel and a shark. Not to mention all the other colorful fish darting around in every direction I looked.
What I loved was that our divemasters explained and described which fish we saw after each dive. I learned so much on the 4 dives I did on Tioman! This brings me to my next reason why scuba diving on Tioman was the best…
#2. The awesome divemasters of B&J from Tioman Dive Resort
The divemasters of B&J Dive School (also called Tioman Dive Resort) were the absolute best I have met! Highly professional, passionate about the reef, and very good at their job!
Our dive masters Will and Jess taught us about the species of fish in the area and about the importance of thorough dive briefings. Before starting a dive, they always told us what to expect of the dive site, such as depth, current, and fish that were usually seen in the area.
They repeated the most important dive signals and the safety procedure in case one of us got lost or separated from our buddy.
Will and Jess also taught us about our gear. As I mentioned in my El Nido diving post, I had not learned to set up my own equipment completely on my own. This is why I was very grateful they taught us how to assemble our gear and how to systematically do our buddy checks.
I felt so much more confident developing a getting-ready-to-dive-routine and I personally feel this is a very important part of diving.
Diving is all about being and staying safe, making sure that you check and double-check, that you never push the limits and that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Which is why it’s really important to check your gear.
Of course, it’s ultimately about exploring the underwater world and its magical creatures… Bringing me to reason 3 why diving on Tioman was awesome!
#3. Focusing on diving alone
I enjoyed doing the PADI course in El Nido a lot. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I also did the Advanced PADI course on Koh Tao.
But what I loved about diving on Tioman is that I wasn’t doing a course, requiring me to focus on practicing skills, navigation, buoyancy or something else the dive instructor was teaching me. Instead, I could focus completely on the beautiful surroundings…
The best scuba dive spots around Tioman
I went diving on 2 days and visited 4 dive spots in Tioman (there are about 30 around the island). All the spots were absolutely amazing!
The visibility was good at the time of our visit (May 2015), between 12 and 20 meters depending on the dive spot and the water temperature a comfortable 30 degrees Celsius. Meaning even an extremely shivery type like me had no problem diving in a short wet-suit.
Dive #1: Renggis
Our first dive site was Renggis and it was the best one… The others were great too but at Renggis I saw the turtle, giant moray eel and a black-tip reef shark I was talking about earlier. In one dive!
The funny thing was we saw the shark even before we descended. We were waiting in the water for the rest of our dive party and saw the shark swimming away from us while snorkeling around. So far it’s the only place I have seen a shark…
The dive site Renggis is between 6-16 meters deep and the coral is simply stunning. Really cool dive!
Dive #2: Soyak Island
Soyak was the second dive of the day, and while there are also 2 wrecks at the site we did not go there since there were all the way down at 30 meters.
At that moment we did not have our Advanced PADI certificate yet, meaning we could only dive to a depth of 18 meters.
Soyak Island, the dive site we visited, is between 10-16 meters deep. Again lots of beautiful coral and on this dive, we saw another moray eel, a mappa fish, 2 blue spotted ribbon tail rays, a masked porcupine and a seal faced pufferfish.
Dive #3: Labas
Labas was another amazing dive site and one of the favorites of our dive instructor Will. The site has a lot of rock formations, overgrown with all sorts of colorful coral and home to a huge variety of fish.
Some of the fish we saw: a stonefish (not to be stepped on!), several angel fish and more blue spotted stingrays.
Labas dive site is between 12-18 meters deep.
Dive #4: Batu Malang
As if we had not been spoiled enough with our previous 3 dive sites, we also went to Batu Malang, also called Coral Island. This site is between 6-16 meters deep, but we spent most of our time around 10 meters.
The sunlight lit up the beautiful coral and colorful fish, the underwater world is truly magical…
We saw 2 hawksbill sea turtles, pufferfish and lots of Nemos;-). Visibility at Batu Malang was the best, around 20 meters!
You can read more about the dive sites at Tioman here.
If you don’t want to go diving, at least try snorkeling! It makes for a fun day out. and you’ll see many amazing underwater creatures!
Which dive school on Tioman is the best: B&J Dive School
As I said repeatedly throughout this post, Will and Jess of B&J Dive School were the best instructors of all the places I went diving (Cuba, Sri Lanka, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand).
But everything about B&J dive school is pretty excellent and I don’t say that lightly. The equipment is in pristine condition, the shop has a great assortment of dive gear and the staff gives excellent advice (I bought my dive mask there) and the boats are well maintained.
B&J has built its own Tioman Dive Resort to offer our customers not only spacious and clean rooms but also daily room cleaning service and all the amenities for a luxurious stay on Tioman.
If you are going to Tioman and are into diving, I fully recommend going with B&J! They have 2 dive shops, a small one in Salang and a larger one in Air Batang (also known as ABC). ABC is also where B&J’s Tioman Dive Resort can be found.
We did 4 dives and paid 400RM each. This comes down to just €25 per dive and includes all the necessary gear, unlimited coffee and tea in the shop, and a light lunch on the boat.
If you haven’t got your PADI yet and want to take a course, you can book a (Advanced) PADI Course at B&J’s Tioman Dive resort online. There are several options:
- 4D3N Tioman Island PADI Open Water Diving Course (including accommodation)
- 6D5N PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water Diving Course (including accommodation)
- 4-day PADI Open Water Course or 2-day Advanced Open Water Course (excluding accommodation)
Where to stay on Tioman Island
If you’re not staying at the B&J Tioman Dive Resort (we didn’t as we already had our PADI), there are several nice accommodation options on Tioman. Below you can find my recommendation for Salang and Air Batang (based on our experience).
Ella’s Place in Salang
In Salang, we found a cozy little bungalow at Ella’s Place, located at the northern end of the beautiful beach.
There is no warm water for showering, but Tioman is a hot and tropical island so that wasn’t an issue for us. The accommodation is very basic but clean.
The bed has a mosquito net and there’s a fan for some fresh air at night (there are aircon bungalows as well). The views from the property are lovely and the sunsets are spectacular…
We paid 75MYR (€19/$21) per night for a bungalow with a fan. You can’t find the property online and therefore cannot book ahead.
If you are visiting Tioman during the week outside of peak season, you can take your chances and hope there is a bungalow available at this awesome little spot in Salang!
Bamboo Hill in Air Batang (ABC)
We spent two nights in Salang and another two nights at the village Air Batang (ABC). We were very lucky to be able to stay at the very popular (and often fully booked) Bamboo Hill.
These beautiful wooden bungalow are built against a rock and surrounded by trees. Needless to say, views from the bungalows are splendid…
We had monkeys peeking into our room and a cat who hid her three tiny kittens in our room to protect them from the lizards! I highly recommend Bamboo Hill, it’s a lovely place to stay and the family who runs it is very kind.
We paid 100MYR (€25/$28) per night. You can find this place online, this is their official website. You can also make a booking by sending an email to booking at bamboohillchalets dot com.
Be sure to make a reservation as soon as you know your trip dates, as I mentioned above this place is very popular and often fully booked.
Tioman Island scuba diving: in conclusion
We had a great time on Tioman and the amazing dives definitely made our stay something I will never forget. I would return to Tioman in a heartbeat…
Also read my other Malaysia posts:
This post was updated in June 2020.