Johor, the southern most 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.
Like a necklace of glittering jewels, the island of Sibu, Rawa, Pemanggil, Aur, Tinggi, Besar, Tengah, Mensirip and Hujung lay nestled off Johor’s eastern coast. They are accessible from Mersing, a charming coastal town and the jump-off point to the world-renowned Tioman Island.
Lush vegetation and endless stretches of golden beaches characterized the Sibu Group of Islands. They are accessible from the Tanjung Leman jetty, 60km from Mersing. The islands abound with water sports activities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing and kayaking. Opt for a visit to the nearby kelong, where anchovies are caught or head for the villages on the island of Sibu Besar to see how the natives live. For some adventure, hike through the jungle trails leading to unspoilt mangrove swamps.
The island of Rawa is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing. Famed for its tall palm trees, white sand and seclude coves, this is the ideal tropical getaway. Get close to the marine life as neon-colored fish swim close to shore, right below the jetty and between your ankles! Rawa was among the earliest islands here to be developed as a tourist destination.
Pemanggil is the largest among the cluster of island of Johor. Squid fishing is an enjoyable seasonal sport here. Other popular activities are jungle trekking, snorkeling and diving.
The unspoilt island of Aur is the perfect dive destination. Encounters with pelagics including jacks, barracudas and black tip sharks are a big draw. The best time to dive is between April and October when the sea is calmer and visibility is at its best.
The islands of Tinggi, Besar, Tengah, Mensirip and Hujung are idyllic secluded getaways. These islands boast beautiful beaches with shady cool trees and clear water. Perfect for simply working on nothing, but a tan!
Mersing is the main staging point to Johor’s island in the South China Sea. It is 138km north of Johor Bahru or a two hour drive from there. Life here moves at casual pace as trawlers prepare to sail out to sea from this fishing town. Tourists can also make travel arrangement with tour operators stationed here.
Getting to Mersing and Tanjung Leman
From Kuala Lumpur exit at Kluang in Johor on the North-South Expressway to get 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 a half hours.
KTM or Malayan Railway has rail services from Kuala Lumpur to Kluang. From Kluang, public transport is available to the jetty.
For more pictures of islands of Johor, please visit the following flickr photostream.
Location, Map and Driving Direction to Mersing: