Batu Batu

Pulau Tengah, Tioman & East Coast, Malaysia Book from

A private-island resort ringed by 8 white-sand beaches and unspoilt coral; ideal for relaxed romance, diving and family stays
Sunlight danced on the waves as we sped across the South China Sea, weaving around wooden fishing boats and away from the bustling port of Mersing. Stepping off the boat at our destination 20 minutes later, we were awe-struck by the dazzling blue of the shallows, the pure white of the sand and the deep green of the jungle; put simply, Pulau Tengah (‘Middle Island’) is as close to paradise as we’d ever come.

Hugging a stretch of the 3km coastline, between thriving coral reefs and swaying coconut palms, Batu Batu is the only resort on the otherwise uninhabited island. Its 22 traditional Malay villas were built by local carpenters; some have 1 bedroom, others annexes for children, but all are quietly luxurious, with four-poster beds and huge tubs. The vibe throughout is relaxed, and as we explored we saw kids playing in the infinity pool and couples lingering over cocktails in the bar. We spent our time immersed in nature - swimming with reef sharks and clownfish, releasing turtle hatchlings into the surf, and sunning ourselves on near-deserted beaches. We’d also intended to scuba-dive with the on-site PADI school and spoil ourselves in the spa, but for that we'll have to return; it transpires 3 nights in paradise just aren’t enough.


  • Barefoot luxury in a truly unspoilt setting - and a commitment to protecting the island's natural beauty
  • A friendly, laid-back ambiance: we felt ourselves start to unwind the moment we stepped off the boat
  • Delicious, daily-changing meals in the restaurant, some using ingredients grown on the island
  • A huge array of activities: paddle boarding, scuba diving, PADI courses, jungle walks, kayaking, spa treatments
  • Manager Bala and his team go above and beyond, always with huge smiles


  • A trek to get here (a 3-5 hour drive from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, followed by a boat transfer), but oh-so worth it
  • Full pre-payment is required, and rates don't include any food (you'll need to buy a separate meal plan)
  • WiFi is limited to some communal areas, although we enjoyed the digital detox
  • There are mozzies and sandflies, plus occasional jellyfish in the sea (you can buy a special jellyfish repellent)
  • It's a 15-minute walk from the furthest villas to the pool and restaurant

Best time to go

The dry season runs from March to November. We visited in August, when the weather was hot and sunny and the sea delightfully warm - though we did experience one very impressive tropical thunderstorm. December to February is the monsoon season, with heavy rain and strong winds; these months are not suitable for diving, and the diving season normally ends on 15 November.

Our top tips

This is a great place to learn to dive. The entry-level PADI qualification is very reasonably priced, and the waters surrounding Batu Batu offer perfect conditions for novices - not too deep (a maximum of 5-7m), with plentiful coral.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique beach resort
  • 22
  • Restaurant & bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


The stilted wooden villas are styled on Malay kampungs and carefully positioned among the trees to afford maximum privacy. All have four-poster beds swathed in mosquito nets, a large private balcony, and a sprawling bathroom featuring a rainfall shower and a huge standalone tub. Some have children’s annexes with bunk beds, too.

We stayed in a palatial Ocean Villa, which boasted spectacular views across the azure water; the Ocean Deluxe Villas sit in a slightly more elevated position, with an even better vista. Beach Villas have direct access to Sunrise Beach, while the Jungle Villas are set slightly further back from the shore, amid lush rainforest.

Poolside Villas have 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and are located directly behind the infinity pool and restaurant. We loved their huge verandas with sofas and tables, and their 2 private outdoor bathrooms (one with a shower, the other with a tub). They also seemed slightly cooler than the other villas due to their thicker roofs (all have air-con), though it's worth noting that they're a little less private.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv


Meals are a relaxed affair, served in an airy, open-sided pavilion nestled between 2 large stones (‘batu’ in Malay, hence the resort’s name). Tables look out over the sea to neighbouring Pulau Besar (‘Big Island’).

At breakfast, the buffet table (carved from a cengal tree felled in the 1970s) groans under the weight of fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereal, and freshly baked pastries and bread. There are also numerous cooked options, all made to order; tucking into fluffy pancakes or buttery scrambled eggs as the sun rose made a wonderful start to our mornings.

The 2-course lunches and 3-course dinners feature a daily changing menu of local and Western dishes. Highlights for us included a crisp salad with olives, butternut squash and feta; fried tofu with sambal and a vegetable dhal; and a slow-cooked beef rendang made with the island’s own coconut milk and lemongrass.

Note that no meals are included in the rates, so you'll need to purchase a meal plan which covers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Drinks and side dishes are charged as extra, as are cocktails from the sea-facing bar and laid-back beach bar.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant


  • Go diving - the corals and marine life are spectacular. The dive school caters for all levels, with a PADI entry-level course, an open-water course and an advanced 'Divemaster' course
  • Other water-based activities on offer include snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boat trips to neighbouring islands
  • Go for a stroll around the island. There are 2 self-guided walking routes (each around an hour), taking in the jungle interior and various lookout points with views over the sea to neighbouring islands
  • Discover Pulau Tengah’s 8 beaches (you can try a different one every day!). Our favourites were Angsana and Sunset in the north
  • Tour the island’s conservation centre and learn about efforts to protect green and hawksbill turtles. Ask to be alerted if there are hatchlings ready to be released during your stay
  • Unwind in the spa. There are numerous treatments on offer, including a coffee body scrub and a hot-stone massage (you’ll need to book in advance)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle boarding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife


This is a paradise for outdoorsy kids, and families are welcomed with open arms. As well as the beaches and watersports, there's an unstaffed playhouse and the chance to release turtle hatchlings.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Many of the Ocean, Jungle and Beach Villas have annexes attached to the main bedroom, with 2 bunk beds for children; the most popular are the Beach Villas, as they're located near the pool and restaurant. There are also 2 Poolside Villas with 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and a covered veranda with a living area. All villas can accommodate baby cots, and all except the Poolside Villas have daybeds which can be made up for additional guests, meaning they can sleep 3-5 people in total.

Kids Activities on site:

  • 'Bubblemaker' kids' diving courses (ages 8+)
  • Snorkelling (supplied-air snorkelling is available for ages 5-7)
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle boarding
  • Turtle conservation-centre tours, plus the opportunity to help release hatchlings
  • Playhouse (unsupervised) with toys and games
  • Kids' DVDs to borrow
  • Beach volleyball

Families Should Know:

Some of the Ocean and Jungle Villas are accessed via lots of steps, which may not be suitable for little ones. There are also a few creepy-crawlies and mosquitoes (coils and nets are provided in the villas), plus occasional jellyfish in the sea (staff recommend you buy jellyfish repellent).


  • Airport: 3-5 hour drive (Singapore or Kuala Lumpur), then a 20-minute boat transfer
  • Shop: 20-minute boat transfer
  • Hospital: 20-minute boat transfer then a 15-minute drive
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...


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