Tioman Vs Rawa

Among so many islands close to Johor, Tioman and Rawa Island are the top gems to visit if you’re looking for a dreamy destination for a weekend getaway on a tropical island!

The best part? They’re not that far from Singapore!

And while it would be extremely incredible to visit both of them during the same period, you’ll likely only have time to fully explore one of them!

But which one should you go for?

Take Instagram-Worthy Pictures Around Rawa Island

Photo credits to phalinn

Having similar geographical features and attractions makes it a confusing decision.

Lucky for you, we’ve put together a guide to help you with this predicament!

In this guide, we’ll cover different categories like activities, food, transport, resorts and other things you’d care to know!

1. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Overview

With close to 60 resorts, Tioman Island of Pahang is definitely more commercialized.

That’s not surprising since it is the larger of the two islands and is not only a diving paradise but a surfer’s playground as well!

Bird's Eye View of Pulau Renggis at Tioman Island
Renggis Island at Tioman Island - Photo credits to malaysiatravelresorts

Tioman Island highlights:

  • Asah waterfall
  • TAT Turtle Sanctuary
  • Close to Renggis Island and Coral Island – Both known for excellent diving and snorkeling
  • Marine Park – Coral sanctuary with artificial reefs and an information center
  • Dragon Horn – Unique rock formation resembling two dragon horns
  • Monkey Bay
  • Juara beach – During the monsoon season, experienced surfers will come here!
Kayaking at Tioman Island with Dragon Horns
Kayaking at Tioman Island with Dragon Horns - Photo credits to livingnomads.com

Rawa Island on the other hand, is part of Johor and feels more exclusive and way less touristy having just 2 resorts on the island.

There are multiple sustainability projects with local universities on the island.

The Water Slider at Rawa Island Resort Included in Rawa Island Full Board Package
Photo credits to Rawa Island Resort

Rawa Island highlights:

  • Close to Harimau Island (hidden natural pool) and Mensirip Island (for diving)
  • Rawa water slides – Have fun sliding into the sea!
  • Orca Scuba Rawa dive center – Arrange for PADI diving sessions
  • Hilltop Walk – Panoramic views of neighboring islands!
The Panoramic Views of Rawa Island
Hilltop Walk of Rawa Island – Panoramic views of neighboring islands - Photo credits to Tony Saw

Which island is more affordable?

Hands down, it’s way cheaper to stay on Tioman Island than Rawa Island.

2. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Transport Options From Singapore

It is not possible to take a flight directly from Singapore to Tioman Island or Rawa Island.

Instead, you have to take overland transport from Singapore to Tanjung Gemok Jetty or Mersing Jetty for a ferry to Tioman Island. Or, Mersing Jetty for a charter boat to Rawa Island.

Tanjung Gemok Jetty Entrance

Tanjung Gemok Jetty Entrance

Tioman Island

Read also: Bluewater Vs Cataferry: Which Tioman Ferry To Choose?

Rawa Island – Mersing Jetty

Mersing Jetty Johor

Mersing Jetty

For overland transport, you can opt to hire a private car service, take a public bus or drive from Singapore all the way to Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty.

Singapore to Mersing Tioman

Note: Tanjung Gemok Jetty is 35 minutes’ drive further up north from Mersing Jetty.

Access From SingaporeTioman IslandRawa Island
Direct FlightNot Possible
Singapore to JettyMethod1. Private Car
2. Self-drive
3. Bus
DurationApprox. 3 hrs
Jetty to IslandJetty OptionTg. Gemok or Mersing JettyMersing Jetty
MethodFerrySpeedboat
Duration1.5 to 2 hours30 minutes
Total Duration
* if there is no traffic at the border
5 hours3 hours 30 minutes

From the table above, you can see that getting from Singapore to Rawa Island is a slightly shorter journey than going to Tioman Island.

3. Best Time To Visit Tioman & Rawa Island

When looking at the weather, the favorable visiting months are practically the same for both islands since they are close to each other.

Tioman Island is however, further out from the coast and this means some big waves on the east side of the island (Juara Beach) during the monsoon months!

Surfing at Tioman Island

Surfing at Juara, Tioman Island (Source: tioman.org)

3.1. Best Time To Visit Tioman Island

For the best time to visit Tioman Island, it depends on what you want to do:

Surfing is actually best during the monsoon months (October to February).

While diving and snorkeling are better in the other months like March to August. Water clarity is best between April and August!

Snorkelling at Salang Reef Tioman Island

Snorkelling at Salang Reef Tioman – Photo credits to syamilmeyl

3.2. Best Time To Visit Rawa Island

Because of the monsoon season in October to February, visitors can only visit Rawa Island from March to September.

The most popular months to visit are June and July.

Snorkelling At Rawa Island

Snorkelling At Rawa Island – Photo credits to azhafizah.com

4. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Food Choices

Tioman Island:

There are plenty of dining options in Tioman! Especially if you stay closer to the busier villages like Air Batang (ABC) or Tekek.

If all else fails, your chosen resort will probably have its own restaurant or at least one nearby!

Rawa Island:

Again, you just have 2 choices as each of the resorts have their own restaurant.

While both restaurants have good food, Rawa Island Resort serves their food buffet-style while Alang’s Rawa Resort has a simpler but wholesome spread.

5. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Beaches

On Rawa Island, you basically have just the beach in front of your resort – good thing it’s everything you could want!

Palm trees, white sand and clear turquoise water!

Swimming Right In Front Of The Rawa Island Beach

Photo credits to phalinn

As for Tioman, you have several beaches to explore:

BeachGood for
Air Batang (ABC)Popular walking trails here – you can walk all the way to Tekek! Kayaking; Watching the sunset;
GentingFrisbee/ volleyball; Many eateries; Lounging
SalangFrisbee/ volleyball, lounging, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling; Pubs and bonfires
MukutDragon Horns and Asah Waterfall
NipahGolden sand; Lounging; Phosphorescent seaweed in the water at night!
TekekGolden sand; Watching the sunset
JuaraSpacious beach; Juara Turtle Project; Frisbee/ volleyball; Peace and quiet; Lounging; Surfing and swimming
PayaGolden sand; Less crowded; Lounging
Monkey BeachFrisbee/ volleyball; Hike to Monkey Bay
Berjaya BeachFrisbee/ volleyball

 

Juara Beach at Tioman Island

Beautiful Juara Beach at Tioman Island (Source: tioman.org)

6. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Activities & Adventures

There are more land activities to do on Tioman Island than Rawa Island but you can still do snorkeling and diving at either island.

And for anyone interested in a bit of hiking, there are easy to challenging hikes on Tioman Island while the variety of trails are rather limited on Rawa Island.

Jungle trekking at Tioman Island

Jungle trails at Tioman Island. (Source: tioman.org)

Nature lovers will appreciate the Marine Park and turtle sanctuaries on Tioman Island!

Activity/ FeatureTioman IslandRawa Island
SnorkelYesYes
DiveYesYes
Go hikingYesYes
Take a stroll on the beachYesYes
Lounge on the beachYesYes
Enjoy the sunsetYesYes
SwimYesYes
Play volleyballYesYes
KayakingYesYes
Island-hoppingYesYes
Eat local foodYesYes
Surf (during the monsoon months)YesNo
Duty-free shoppingYesNo
WaterfallAsah WaterfallNo
Turtle sanctuaryYesNo
Marine parkYesNo
Fishing boat charterYesNo
Ride an ATV (some resorts have this activity available)YesNo
Play golfYesNo
CyclingYesNo
Water slides that fall into the seaNoYes

 

Juara Turtle Project at Tioman Island

Photo credits to juaraturtleproject (Instagram)

Prohibited Activities (On Either Island)

And you cannot do the following activities at either island because they are within the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park under the protection of the Malaysian Department of Marine Parks:

  • Fishing (e.g. rod, speargun, net)
  • Touching fish or coral and that includes stepping on the corals!
  • Feeding the fish
  • Littering
  • Water sports involving motors like jet-skiing
  • Taking anything back from the sea/ beach – dead or alive
  • Anything else that damages or destroys the marine life in the reserve

7. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Nightlife

Both islands have some form of nightlife:

For Tioman, there is a concentration of bars around Tekek Village and Air Batang Village perfect for enjoying the sunset, socializing with other divers or reliving the day over an alcoholic beverage!

Beautiful sunset at Tioman Air Batang Beach

Gorgeous sunset at ABC Beach, Tioman Island (Source: travel-letics.com)

Note: Don’t get too carried away. The locals are mostly Muslim and do not approve of excessive rowdy behavior!

While on Rawa Island, the beach party scene is at Alang’s Rawa Resorts during the weekends!

Partying The Night Away At The Beach Hut at Rawa Island

Partying The Night Away At The Beach Hut at Rawa Island

Nightlife ActivityTioman IslandRawa Island
KaraokeYes (some resorts)No
MassageYes (some resorts)Rawa Island Resort
Dance clubNoNo
Bars1. Tioman Cabana Beach Bar – Wooden hut by the beach where shoes are not allowed!1. Alang’s Rawa Resort offers strong cocktails and there are parties on the weekends!
2. Sunset Corner (Nazri’s place) – Wonderful spot to see the sunset, beer and pizza in hand!
3. Bar Ruma – Chill atmosphere in an open area with trees and friendly staff2. Rawa Island Resort does serve alcohol and play music at their bar too.
4. Paya Beach Resort’s Bar – A good bar with a variety of beer
5. Juara Beach Resort – They may be having a bonfire night!
Live musicA Peace Place – Sometimes, there are live performances by locals hereNo

8. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Snorkeling & Diving

Any of these two locations are wonderful for snorkeling and diving – Clear water that’s a comfortable temperature and brimming with diverse marine life!

Diving with Sea Turtle at Tioman Island
Diving with Sea Turtle at Tioman Island.

Diving

CriteriaTioman IslandRawa Island
Experienced diversMore diving spotsMensirip Island is close by
First time diversAny island is fine
PADI licenseBoth islands have at least 1 PADI dive center that caters to all levels
Dive CentersMultiple dive centers like B&J Diving CentreOrca Scuba diving center

Snorkeling

Snorkeling is satisfying at either island whether you take a boat trip or snorkel off the beach.

Note that not every resort has good snorkeling on the beach front on Tioman Island!

Spotted a Shark during Snorkelling at Paya Beach Resort

Beginners might feel more at ease on Rawa Island too since you don’t have to go far out in the water to see fish!

CriteriaTioman IslandRawa Island
Snorkeling spotsMultiple:Off the beach;
1. Renggis IslandThe beach is literally empty because everyone’s snorkeling in the crystal-clear blue water right of the beach among rocky outcrops!
2. Coral Island
3. Marine Park Center
4. Monkey Bay
5. South of Salang jetty
More spots for Tioman snorkeling
Sea Water Clarity15m to 30m deep in the peak months (April to August)Water is not as clear as in Perhentian Islands but you’ll still be impressed!
Marine Life DiversityA lot especially around the coral reefs at Renggis Island and Coral IslandDon’t have to head out far to see some fish like clownfish, angelfish, stingrays, and maybe even baby sharks!

9. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Resort Choices

Loads of options when it comes to accommodation on Tioman Island and far less on Rawa Island:

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though!

Rawa Island is generally less crowded than Tioman Island and that makes for a relaxing atmosphere itself.

The Beauty of Rawa Island

However if you choose your resort carefully on Tioman Island, you can have the beach to yourself!

Going with your family?

There’s more for families to do on Tioman Island. And it’s more convenient there with the availability of shops, eateries and a clinic!

What about a group of friends?

Friends will be happy on either island. The more affordable resorts are on Tioman Island though! Rawa Island is expensive at around RM700+ per night per person!

9.1. Resorts On Tioman Island

With 60 resorts on Tioman Island, you’re spoilt for choice!

To make things easier, we’ve put them together according to your travel budget:

Luxury Resorts On Tioman Island

It’s okay to splurge sometimes! Especially for a special occasion or special someone.

This will be the cherry on top of your vacation!

Tioman Island has some luxury resorts that will not disappoint!

9.1.1. Bagus Place Retreat @ Mukut Village (South)

Gorgeous selection of Malaysia-styled chalets fit for a couple, family or group of friends! Maldives-look alike but cheaper!

Bagus Place Retreat at Mukut, Tioman Island

Photo credits to tioman.org

Resort Highlights:

  • Peaceful and scenic setting
  • Outstanding hospitality
  • Romantic chalets
  • Good food
  • Pier (shark feeding at night)

Location: http://bit.ly/BagusPlace

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

9.1.2. Minang Cove Resort @ Mukut Village (South)

A resort in a lovely secluded cove! And they have a pier you can dive right off!

Minang Cove Resort

Photo credits to booking.com

Resort Highlights:

  • Quiet place
  • Friendly staff
  • Simple and clean rooms
  • Delicious food
  • Great diving instructor
  • Live reef nearby with sightings of turtles
  • Massage services available
  • ~30 minutes walk to a waterfall

Location: http://bit.ly/MinangCove

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

9.1.3. JapaMala Resort @ Genting Village (South)

JapaMala Resort

Photo credits to booking.com

Stay in a tree top chalet at this luxury boutique resort! They have a total of 13 rooms tucked into their jungle surroundings. Wake up to nature all around you!

Tree Top Chalet At JapaMala Resort

Tree Top Chalet At JapaMala Resort – Photo credits to booking.com

Fun fact: The resort was built without any cutting trees. Natural materials are used for the buildings and decor.

Resort Highlights:

  • Pool
  • 2 Restaurants & Bar
  • Spa
  • Breakfast included
  • Private beach
  • Good snorkeling spot (Coral reef by the pier)
  • Kind staff
  • Malay inspired wooden bungalows

Location: http://bit.ly/Japamala-Resort

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

Mid-range Resorts On Tioman Island

Want a compromise between comfort and your budget? You can settle for one of these popular resorts!

9.1.4. The Barat Tioman Beach Resort @ Juara Beach (East Coast)

The Barat Tioman Beach Resort is a family-friendly hotel offering contemporary rooms equipped with modern conveniences and views of the sea.

Beach In Front of Barat Tioman Beach Resort

There’re plenty of activities to do at this resort!

Swimming Pool at The Barat Tioman Beach Resort

Resort Highlights:

  • Close to Juara Turtle Project
  • Pool
  • Restaurant/ bar
  • Dive center
  • Beach sports – kayaks, canoes, snorkeling gear, paddle boards for rent
  • Function hall
  • Jungle trek (with guides)
  • Good food

Location: http://bit.ly/BaratTiomanBeachResort

Alight Jetty: Tekek Village Jetty (Kampung Tekek)

9.1.5. Berjaya Tioman Resort @ Tekek Village (West Coast)

Berjaya Tioman Resort is one of the largest on Tioman Island and has long been a favorite among families for the wide choice of dining options and activities for the whole family!

Berjaya Tioman Resort At Tekek Village

Resort Highlights:

  • 2 swimming pools (one with slides)
  • Daily buffet breakfast (International and Asian cuisine)
  • Good service
  • Variety of activities: ATV, gym, kayak, golf, massage, snorkeling, etc
  • Renggis island is nearby

Location: http://bit.ly/Berjaya-Tioman-Resort

Alight Jetty: Tekek Village Jetty (Kampung Tekek)

9.1.6. Paya Beach Resort @ Paya Beach (East Coast)

Modern, clean and stylish rooms with basic amenities.

Paya Beach Spa & Dive Resort has chalets right in front of an attractive beach too! Beginner divers get to practice in the hotel pool first!

Crystal Clear Sea Water And Beautiful Beach In Front of Paya Beach Resort

Resort Highlights:

  • House coral reefs
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Breakfast included
  • Spa services
  • Nice buffet breakfast
  • Pool tables and darts
  • Clean
  • ATV
  • Jungle trek
  • Beach volleyball

Location: http://bit.ly/PayaBeachResort

Alight Jetty: Paya Village Jetty (Kampung Paya)

9.1.7. Melina Beach Resort @ Genting Village (West Coast)

Just think, you could have a beachfront chalet with a large private terrace to enjoy here!

You get to be away from the crowds here but still be within reach of other villages.

Melina Beach Resort At Genting Village

Photo credits to booking.com

Resort Highlights:

  • Healthy coral reef close by
  • Tomok Island is close
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Spa
  • Trek to Paya Village right behind the resort
  • Secluded beach surrounded by primary jungle

Location: http://bit.ly/MelinaBeachResort

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

9.1.8. Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort @ Mukut Village (South)

Less crowded than other resorts on the island, Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort is at the southern tip of Tioman Island and is great for families and couples!

Stay in one of their 54 villas.

Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort At Mukut Village

Photo credits to booking.com

Tip: Get a snorkeling package at Genting Jetty before you board the boat transfer. These are cheaper and will pick you up at Tunamaya jetty for your snorkeling trip.

Resort Highlights:

  • Private beach on the edge of an incredible coral reef
  • Comfortable rooms with tasteful design
  • Frequent boat trips for snorkeling (3 times a day)
  • Breath-taking surroundings
  • Pawana restaurant offers a selection of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Western dishes
  • Good service
  • Mukut walk (jungle trek)
  • Golf – resort will make arrangements to ferry guests to the golf course
  • Batik painting
  • Movie night
  • 4 minutes’ drive to Mukut village

Location: http://bit.ly/Tunamaya

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

9.1.9. Tioman Dive Resort @ Air Batang (ABC Village)

They have “Dive” in their name for a reason!

This resort is just behind and is owned by the B&J Diving Center at Air Batang Bay (also known as ABC Bay) at the north side of Tioman Island!

Tioman Dive Resort At Air Batang

Photo credits to booking.com

Resort Highlights:

  • Rooms have some extra modern appliances like a fridge, hair dryer, DVD player and personal safe!
  • B&J Diving Centre (PADI 5 Star IDC Centre) offers all PADI scuba diving courses plus daily dive excursions for certified divers.
  • 5 minutes’ walk from ABC pier with bars/ restaurants (B&J bar, Sunset bar and Ketapang Roof) close by
  • Friendly staff
  • Quiet location

Location: http://bit.ly/TiomanDive

Alight Jetty: Air Batang (ABC) Village Jetty (Kampung Air Batang)

9.1.10. Aman Tioman Beach Resort @ Paya Beach (East Coast)

Aman Tioman Beach Resort is a brand new resort (April 2019) with wooden chalets located very close to Paya pier.

Having their own dive and snorkeling center is very convenient!

Reception Building at Aman Tioman Beach Resort - Tioman Island Snorkeling Package

Resort Highlights:

  • Clean beach
  • Brilliantly-done landscaping around the hotel
  • Good breakfast selection
  • Spacious rooms
  • Seafood BBQ is worth the extra cost!
  • Snorkeling trip is family-friendly
  • Has its own dive and snorkeling center with new equipment!
  • Souvenir shop
  • A few restaurants
  • Walking distance to other resorts, food stalls and shops
  • Kid-friendly pool
  • Great sunset views
  • Fishing trips

Location: http://bit.ly/AmanTiomanBeachResort

Alight Jetty: Paya Village Jetty (Kampung Paya)

Budget-friendly Resorts On Tioman Island

Understandably, you may want to go the budget route if you plan to stay longer on Tioman Island!

It’s nice to know that there are some budget accommodations available out of all the more costly options!

9.1.11. Sun Beach Resort @ Genting Village (South)

Clean units with views of the sea and basic facilities. Sometimes, that’s all you need!

Sun Beach Resort does have a pool though and that’s always welcome!

un Beach Resort at Genting Village Tioman Island

Resort Highlights:

  • Delicious night BBQ
  • Excellent service
  • Will accommodate vegetarians
  • Pool
  • Quiet area

Location: http://bit.ly/SunBeachResortTioman

Alight Jetty: Genting Village Jetty (Kampung Genting)

9.1.12. Salang Indah Resort @ Salang Village (North)

Salang Indah Resort lies at the north of Tioman Island. The affordable rooms are a little worn but have the basic necessities.

The obvious highlight of staying here is the diving and snorkeling!

View From Salang Sayang Chalet

Photo credits to tripadvisor

Resort Highlights:

  • Island hopping trips
  • Close to an amazing snorkeling spot
  • Peaceful location

Location: http://bit.ly/SalangIndah

Alight Jetty: Salang Village Jetty (Kampung Salang)

9.2. Resorts On Rawa Island

Rawa Island may have only 2 resorts but either one will make a great stay! They also happen to share the same beach and are next to each other!

Because there are only these 2 resorts, you best book early if you’re thinking of going to Rawa Island!

9.2.1. Alang’s Rawa Resort

Alang’s Rawa Resort is a go-to for backpackers and groups of friends for the basic rooms without air conditioning in small huts along the beach.

Prices are per head and not by room so expect to share with strangers!

Alang's Rawa Resort at Rawa Island

Alang’s Rawa Resort at Rawa Island. (Photo credits to Tony Saw)

Resort highlights:

  • Rawa Fish Special
  • Potent cocktails including the Rawa Special
  • Lively weekend parties (and Saturday night barbeque)
  • They do have beach chalets that are private and suitable for couples!

Location: http://bit.ly/AlangsRawaResort

Note: On Saturdays, children under 16 years old are not allowed.

9.2.2. Rawa Island Resort

More of a family-oriented resort with decent rooms and even a couple of villas!

Rawa Island Resort is the pricier and quieter of the two resorts on Rawa Island.

The Exterior of Waterfront Bungalow at Rawa Island Resort

Resort highlights:

  • Massage services
  • Comfortable rooms
  • They have chalets on the water
  • Rawa water slides are close by
  • Buffet-style meals 3 times a day

Location: http://bit.ly/RawaIslandResort

11. Tioman Island Vs Rawa Island: Useful Information

Regardless of which island you choose, there are limitations.

Feature/ ConvenienceTioman IslandRawa Island
WiFiLimited and unreliable, even at resortsAlang’s Rawa Resort – no
Rawa Island Resort – available at restaurant/ bar
Data coverage/ phone receptionCelcom is bestMaxis is best
ATM machinesNoNo
Credit cardsCheck with your resort what credit cards they accept.
Duty-free shoppingYesNo
PADI dive centerYesYes
Own food and alcoholMay be charged for corkage fees by resortNo outside food except baby food; May be charged for corkage fees by resort
ClinicYes (Tekek village)No
MosqueYes (Genting village)No
SupermarketOnly mini martsNo
Decompression chamberNo (the closest one is in Singapore)
Socket typeBritish-style 3-pin square plugs (a.k.a Type G). Voltage rating is 220-240V and frequency is at 50Hertz
AirportClosest airport is in Johor Bahru, Senai Airport (JHB) – 2 to 2.5 hours journey from Mersing

12. Conclusion

It may initially seem like a tough choice to choose between either Tioman Island or Rawa Island. It helps to know what you want to do and who you’re going with too!

But this guide will point you in the right direction to planning your ultimate island vacation!