Lying 15 mi/32 km off the southeastern coast of Pahang in peninsular Malaysia, this small tropical island was the stand-in for the mythical Bali Ha'i in the film South Pacific in the 1950s. Since then, tourism development there has been sporadic, with mainly budget chalets for European backpackers dotting the island's many tiny coves. In truth, Tioman's beaches tend to be short and rocky, which is bad for swimming but great for snorkeling and scuba, two highly recommended activities.
There are no roads on Tioman Island, but it can be explored by boat. Most resorts and local boat owners offer tours. Stops on tours typically take in a waterfall at Mutuk village, the mountainous twin peaks at the southern end of the island known as the Dragon's Horns, and snorkeling in the marine park. The island's main village, Tekek, is home to many duty-free shops that sell alcohol, cigarettes and souvenirs.
Most accommodations tend to be simple (even primitive), and there's only one upscale development on the island, the Berjaya Tioman Island Resort (which also has a golf course of sorts). Salang Beach is a popular place to stay. It has some midrange as well as budget accommodations, a few bars and some good fish barbecue restaurants. Tioman is easier to reach than many of the east coast islands, with direct flights available from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore; otherwise, transport is by small boat from the coastal town of Mersing.
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