This story about Pulau Tinggi Mersing is written by one of our contributors, Fiza Hussein. Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
My family and I love beaches (islands to be precise!) So this trip to Pulau Tinggi, Mersing was more like a family vacation, an annual routine for us. 3 families including 7 adults and 1 infant. We decided to have a short getaway just to get together with the family since we've spent less time together due to PKP (Movement Control Order). The trip took less than 2 weeks to plan.
We've been to Bali, Lombok, Phuket, Krabi, Perhentian, Pangkor (just to name a few), and when we're growing up our late parents always bring us to beaches and islands. I think that's why islands always have a special place in our hearts. Everyone loves beaches, somehow the ocean makes you calm. It's good therapy, I guess.
Honestly, we didn't know much about Pulau Tinggi. My sister Mimi accidentally stumbled upon it on Instagram. We did some research online, but nothing really helped. For some reason, Pulau Tinggi has a very low exposure compared to its neighbour Pulau Rawa. We had very low expectations - really! (Especially due to the weather forecast) But we gave it a chance.
Theoretically, Pulau Tinggi shares the same waters with Pulau Rawa and there's a Kelong belonging to Johor royalty, so there must be something there, right? So we just took a gamble, booked a package and the next thing we knew, we were already in heaven on earth ?
P.S. Check out these other beautiful islands in Malaysia (other than Redang and Langkawi!)
Best time to visit Pulau Tinggi
According to the Resort Manager (Acai) the best time to visit Pulau Tinggi is in between May - September. We arrived there in July, the view was just breathtaking. The weather was just nice, perfect for sunbathing, snorkelling, picnic, island hopping or just lazying around. We were just lucky the weather was just perfect even though the weather forecast said otherwise. And the best thing about travelling during non-peak time, it's like we owned the island.
Imagine the whole stretch of white sandy beach is yours. No humans. Just you and your family. Crystal clear water all yours, it's like you chartered the whole island!
P.S. Check out these 12 private island resorts in Malaysia that locals don't even know about!
We did a 3D2N trip. All 3 families came from various locations including Bangi-Selangor, Senawang-Negeri Sembilan and JB. We decided to sleep over at Batu Pahat-Johor (which is our hometown) for a night before continuing the journey to Jeti Tanjung Leman later in the morning. It took us around 3 hours plus from Batu Pahat to the Jeti, so if you're from Klang Valley I highly recommend extra 1 day for the journey. 3D2N is good for locals. But if you ask me, honestly even 1 month is not enough ?
Getting to Pulau Tinggi from mainland Peninsular Malaysia
If you're from Klang Valley, the only entrance to the island is via Jeti Tanjung Malim located 30 minutes from Bandar Mersing, Johor. The total journey from Klang Valley to Jeti Tanjung Leman Mersing is approximately 5 hours. We chartered a speed boat provided by Shaz Resort, which costs you around RM100 per person (return) and free for kids 3 y/o. If I'm not mistaken there's only 2 daily trips to Pulau Tinggi daily, 12 noon/3pm. Did I mention that there's a KFC at the jetty? Yup, basically you can takeaway a bucket of KFC and bring it to the island for later. If you are driving, there's a huge carpark which costs you around RM 4 per car + RM 4 per night.
Accommodation and activities to do at Pulau Tinggi
There are only 2 places to stay at in Pulau Tinggi: Shaz Resort & Tok Mok Chalet.
We stayed at Shaz Resort because there's a swimming pool with slides just next to the room that we stayed in - perfect for kids. But keep in mind, since the resort was not fully occupied, they decided to only operate the slides upon request. All you got to do is just ask the staff, and they will help you. Of course, we chose Shaz because of the Instagram post that my sister Mimi stumbled upon. I think it's just love at first sight.
It's perfect for every traveller - whether you're a couple or with family. The beaches at Pulau Tinggi are amazing, I mean you can literally walk up to 1 km when it's low tide, surrounded with fishes and corals just next to the place you stay.
It's quite effortless and pretty convenient, really. We went snorkelling at Pulau Sibu Kukus, Pulau Lima & Pulau Mentinggi.
The distance between islands during island-hopping is pretty much close to one another. And the boatman is just kind enough to drop the non-divers to the enjoy the beach during island-hopping, so that you can still experience the beauty even though you're not a diver or not used to snorkelling. There's also a rent-a-bike so you can cycle around the island together with family. You can also go fishing, take a nature walk with a guide, jungle trekking visit a waterfall or even camping as the resort has a campsite.
Shaz Resort has the basic needs that all island travellers need. Honestly, we thought it's a bit pricey, but after some negotiation and custom package, I think the price is quite reasonable. In our case we managed to cut some expenses by bringing our own food, like seafood for BBQ (more on that later); we also brought a rice cooker; we saved a lot by preparing our own food. Not to mention there's a local warung that serves good food with a non-touristy price. The good thing about this resort - even though it's a bit pricey, the manager wasn't calculative with us. For example, extra hours for snorkelling time, extended check out time from 10 am to 12 pm, no time restriction when we rented the BBQ place, and of course the staff is kind enough to let us join a night fishing trip for free! Somehow we feel like we became part of their family. Shaz resort "tak berkira" (not calculative) that's for sure!
We stayed in the Standard A Room which costs around RM170 per night. Since we were on a budget we skipped the Beach View Room which costs RM230 per night. The room is pretty basic, with aircon and toilet. They use "air Gunung" (mountain water) as the source of water, so the coldness is just refreshing especially after a long day at the beach. Of course, they have a water heater. Lots of powerpoints, enough for everyone. The room design is inspired by a traditional Malay house with carvings made out of wood. So it's pretty cozy. The resort also provides a thumb drive so you can watch movies from your bed, but who needs that right??
P.S. Check out these 10 affordable beachfront resorts in Malaysia!
Special occasions and packages
Shaz Resort can arrange special packages according to your needs - for example, honeymoon with candlelight dinner. There are also other snorkelling/island-hopping packages. Just WhatsApp or DM Shaz Resort on Facebook and they will give you the quotation.
We also had a BBQ on one night to celebrate my little brother's belated birthday. The resort was kind enough to provide us with space and helped with the setup. You have to rent the BBQ pit of course. The best part was that the BBQ dinner was also accompanied by music courtesy of the resort management. Just imagine - a BBQ under the stars, with the sounds of the ocean (and some music), it's just pure bliss. The atmosphere was electrifying :)
Halal food at Shaz Resort
100% owned and run by a Muslim, Halal food is not a problem here. But there's a price you have to pay. We brought our own food so we don't have much experience eating there.
But there's one warung (stall), Yoy Cafe which operates from 4.30pm - 7pm that's located around 200-metres from the resort - they got goreng pisang, mee goreng, all the "minum petang" (afternoon tea) kind of food. It's quite cheap and flavourful!
I recommend Coconut Shake Float, with extra ice cream! Perfect combo for your tropical adventure.
For peace of mind when you travel to Pulau Tinggi, just book everything with the resort - from breakfast to dinner - as they have packages that will suit travellers' needs. Check out their website!
You can find out more about Fiza's travel adventures on her Instagram @fiza_hussein.
P.S. Want to share your tips and stories to help Muslims travel better? Click on this link to share your experience!