Tioman Island is a paradise where most of the land is ruled by nature. No wonder why TIME Magazine once selected Tioman as one of the worlds’ most beautiful islands. What is better than swimming with vibrant fish and checking the birds chasing each other above the large canopy? Well, to us it was doing just that, but every time on a different beach. We didn’t hold back when we were exploring this stunning island and loved the short time we spent there.
Once we unpacked, we immediately fell for the island’s way of life with kittens behind every corner. It looks like cats have a special place in the hearts of Tioman’s residents. At one cafe the cat situation could be described as an obsession because we counted 16 cats before we got the coffee. Later we found out that Islamic tradition has an important influence on the island’s pets. In addition to that, it is awesome to see lazy cats casually stretching in the shade with the ocean in the background.
Speaking of an island lifestyle, don’t expect local restaurants and shops to be open all day long. There is an agreement between locals to follow the 8h working day, not more. We salute this deal and support it. Certainly, this way more businesses get a chance to earn a living because there is less competition. For example, some restaurants are open in the morning and the evening, while others cover the hours in between. Of course, the deal is off at the resort or hotel. There, the vacation bubble is in full swing, and everything you wish can come true for the right price.
Well, to be honest not everything can be bought. Pristine nature is one of those items that can go their way despite your efforts. Tioman is indeed a paradise island where you’ll share the beach with colorful butterflies. Although butterflies are stunning in all colors and sizes, you shouldn’t fix your eyes just on them. You surely won’t want to miss monkeys, because they will get your stuff. One time we were on a beach and monkeys came to check what is in our bags. It didn’t take them long to unzip a bag and try how sunscreen tastes. At first, we were really happy to see monkeys, but later we took some precautions when the monkey troop came around. Our go-to defense system was throwing sand at them because who would want sand in hair and eyes. It worked every time, even when a large male sneaked behind us when we were walking through the village.
That monkey surprise happened on our way to the turtle sanctuary. Probably about a decade or two ago, the Tioman was home to four different sea turtle species. Now the only two species remaining are the Green and Hawksbill turtles, but who knows for how long. Sea turtles existed for 110 million years and only in the last century, their numbers are sad-looking. Hopefully, turtle hatcheries make an impact and the turtle situation will improve. The same optimistic narrative goes for the corals around the island.
Tioman Island is famous for its diving activities around thriving coral reefs. When the season comes, even whale sharks come around! One whale has a friend at Salang Beach, a passionate diver Paul and they “hang out” when the time comes. In the past, healthy coral reefs were very close to the shore and people were having a snorkel blast. Sadly, the present is showing a changing image that is quite disturbing.
We saw many bleached corals in the coastal water and quite a few dead ones on the beach. Dying reefs have to face climate changes and tourists who are pocketing souvenirs off the shore. Now visitors can listen to the tale about snorkeling off the shore during the boat ride to the diving spots. The good news is that a few people started to plant corals and are giving wildlife a chance to survive. What we learned about planting corals surprised us. Not only it is successful, but also that there are different ways of doing it. A particularly useful solution with strong currents is a lightly moving base.
Exploring Tioman Island
Whatever you plan to do on the island, please slowly walk around and explore it. We went literally around the island and were blown away by the surroundings. If you care for one more travel story, check how our search for a lonely beach on Tioman Island went. If not, we hope you enjoyed this tale.