Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Seasoned traveler that we are, Navvin and I are taking every opportunity to go and explore new places. This year, our travels fall under the theme ‘Cuti Cuti Malaysia’ (Vacation in Malaysia) as the pandemic has forced many countries to implement strict travel restrictions, and traveling overseas has become a distant dream.
Thankfully, Malaysia has managed the pandemic very well. So well in fact, that we can get back out there and travel within the country to explore spots that we have previously ditched for other places in Southeast Asia and beyond.
In this article, we want to share with you a bit about a little piece of paradise that we visited last year with a group of friends. That piece is called Pulau Rawa. It is a tiny private island in Johor.
It is so tiny that most locals haven’t even heard of it.
Recently, the island has been gaining in popularity. Not surprising considering that the island offers extremely fine white sand, beautiful coral reefs, a diverse and rich marine life, and a lush tropical rainforest to explore and relax.
How to Get There?
The closest airports to the Jetty in Mersing and Rawa Island are Senai Airport in Johor Bahru and Changi Airport in Singapore.
From Senai Airport, we recommend you to hire a driver who brings you to the jetty and back to the airport after your vacation. It takes about 2h to reach the jetty. There is plenty of drivers available with normal 5 seaters and even bigger cars in case you plan to go with a group of friends.
From Changi Airport, it is also easy to hire a driver with whom you can agree on the pick-up and drop-off locations and timings in advance. Crossing the border from Singapore to Malaysia is effortless. Just make sure you are clear about your visa requirements before you get to the checkpoint. (To Note: right now the borders are closed. Keep an eye on the news before you make any bookings.)
Once you reach the jetty, a small boat will bring you to the island. It is just a 20-min boat ride. Your hotel can help to arrange that for you. Just make sure you check with the hotel staff in advance.
When to Visit?
The best period to visit Pulau Rawa is during the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. From October to February, the rain and the wind can be very strong at times during the monsoon season, making it impossible for boats to drive to and from the island.
What to Do?
Despite its small size, there are plenty of activities that you can do with your partner, family, and friends.
Snorkeling (or Diving)
BBQ by the Beach
Kayaking: You can rent kayaks from both resorts and go paddle around the island. You will see it is beautiful.
Swimming: The water is crystal clear and the beach is covered with soft white sand which makes swimming a relaxing experience. No need for aqua shoes.
Snorkeling: Ask the hotel staff to point you in the right direction for the best snorkeling spots around the island.
BBQ by the Beach. What better way to end a day than with a BBQ by the beach. The food was really amazing. The highlight of the feast was the fish which was watched by the hotel staff during the day.
Beach Party: During the weekend, Alang’s Rawa Resort organizes small beach parties with music and drinks. It’s fun.
Hiking: For a stunning view from the top consider hiking up the Hilltop Walk.
Board Games: Alang’s Rawa Resort provides some board games to play and pass the time.
Absolutely Nothing: How does that sound to you? Rawa is a beautiful remote tropical island that will allow you to leave your busy city life behind and relax. Spend some time with yourself and the book that has been sitting on your bedside table for the past how many months.
Where to Stay?
Rawa is a private island so things are a bit pricy there. In return, however, you get a piece of paradise away from the crowds with pristine white beaches, clear blue water, and a relaxing island-get-away vibe. In terms of hotels, you have two options:
Option 1: Alang’s Rawa Resort
(From the photo) We stayed at Alang’s Rawa Resort which offers a more laid-back atmosphere and consists of rooms and chalets for 2 to 8 people. Wifi and TV are not part of the package but that for us is what a vacation is about…
... disconnect and be present in the moment.
During the day, the resort provides comfortable spots all along the beach to relax, kayaks, board games as well as a beach volleyball field. There is even a hiking trail behind the resort.
In the evening, during the weekend, beach parties. Funky music and drinks are turning this into a welcoming opportunity to dance the night away with your friends.
Option 2: Rawa Island Resort
Rawa Island Resort offers you comfortable beachfront villas that are clean and well maintained. Just like at Alang's Rawa Resort, the beach is literally in front of your doorstep and you can go to bed at night while listing to the waves. They also have a waterslide, a badminton court, table tennis, a pool table, snooker, and offer kayak rental. All in all, we heard that this would be a more family-friendly resort.
Things to bring?
Cash: Rawa is a small island with no roads and only a few walkways. To get around the island, you need a boat. Bring some cash with you to pay for your water taxi.
Snorkeling Gear: We think it's better to have your own snorkeling gear.
Go-Pro: Rawa is surrounded by amazing snorkeling spots. Bring your go-pro to capture some amazing underwater photos.
Sunscreen: Are you planning to come home with a sun-kissed rather than a sunburned body? Make sure you pack some sunscreen. Try buying a sunscreen that is formulated without oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two chemicals are toxic to coral reefs and other marine life.
Long Sleeve Swimsuit: We snorkeled every day. The sun is strong and can easily burn your back. To protect ourselves, we brought long sleeve swimsuits and old T-shirts.
Mosquito Spray: There are a lot of mosquitos on the island. While the hotel rooms are equipped with a mosquito net over the bed and a mosquito repellent for the room, bringing a mosquito spray to the island is definitely advisable.To Note: Malaysia is a tropical country where dengue outbreaks continue to occur every year. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease that causes high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash among other things. The best way to protect yourself against it is with mosquito spray.
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