Island weekend at Pulau Tioman

By the Star’s WeekEnder

If you have always dreamt of visiting an island of lush green forests and clear blue waters, of white sandy beaches and abundant marine life, then pack your bags and head down to Pulau Tioman.

In conjunction with World Environment Day, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is organising an Island Fest 2005 on June 4-5 on the East Coast island. The event is aimed at introducing the natural wonders of Tioman, which is known as an ecological heaven.

With its cascading waterfalls, lush green forests, swaying palms and clear waters, it’s no wonder Tioman was chosen to represent the fictional Bali Hai islands in the 1958 Hollywood movie South Pacific.

Tioman, which measures 38km by 19km, has attracted travellers for 100 years. In 1972, 12,000ha on the island was gazetted as a wildlife reserve. Today 60% of the area is still under forest cover. Its waters and marine life are protected, and it is the Malaysia’s largest marine park.

A survey conducted by Coral Cay Conservation Ltd showed that 183 species of corals in the waters of Tioman, more than other marine parks on the East Coast like Pulau Redang and Tinggi.

Large marine species such as the whale shark and dolphins are also found in its waters as well as the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle.

Tioman is naturally a famous diving site with visibility up to 33m underwater. Its surrounding waters have sea caves and coral gardens of sea fans and sea anemones.

Tioman Island’s terrestrial beauty is no less awesome. Its tallest peaks are almost perpetually shrouded by mist. Taking a ferry from the Mersing jetty to the island, you will see the twin peaks known as the Dragon’s Horns (Batu Siram and Nenek Si Mukut).

The rainforest of the island is said to be more closely related to Borneo’s than the Malay Peninsula’s, and this makes it very unique.

The island has a record of 138 bird species including the critically-endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird. Its 92 species of herpetofuana (including 37 species of snakes, 32 species of lizards, 22 species of frogs and one species of freshwater soft-shelled turtle) are a good indication of just how rich of Tioman’s rainforests are.

Legend has it that a magical Dragon Princess from China was on the way to Singapore to meet the love of her life when came by the waters here. Resting in the area, she was so pleased with its marine beauty that she decided she wanted to stay.

Forsaking lovem she decided to provide shelter and refreshment to the seafarers and fishermen in the region by turning herself into an island.

That island is now known as Tioman.

The Malaysian Nature Society invites nature lovers to the Island Fest 2005 and learn more about this gem in the South China Sea. Activities lined up for this two-day event include MNS-guided walks, snorkelling, bird-watching and frogging.

There will also be exhibitions, games for children and talks.

Those interested to attend the fest can get to Tioman by car or by bus and by ferry from the Mersing jetty (Johor) to the island.

For more information on the event call MNS at 03–22879422.

Source: The Star’s WeekEnder, Saturday, May 14, 2005