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 MacNeil 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
- \'Bubblemaker\' kids\' diving courses (ages 8+)
- Snorkelling (supplied-air snorkelling is available for ages 5-7)
- 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
- Boutique beach resort
- 22 rooms
- Restaurant & bars (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Creche / Kids Club
- Car not necessary
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
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. Many 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.
- Mosquito net
- Safe box
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.
- Coffee / tea making
- 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)
Best Time to go
Our Top Tips
Batu Batu is located on the small island of Pulau Tengah, 16km off the southeast coast of Malaysia. It's a 20-minute speedboat ride from the mainland town of Mersing.
Fly to Singapore (a 3-4 hour drive) or Kuala Lumpur (a 4-5 hour drive). Both are major air hubs served by numerous airlines - click on the links below for a list. You can also fly to Johor Senai International, 2 hours away, though it only receives flights from within Malaysia and other southeast Asian countries.
From the Airport:
Batu Batu can provide contacts for reputable transfer companies for the journey from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Mersing. Once you reach Mersing, there are 1-3 scheduled boat transfers to the island (extra charge) each day, depending on resort occupancy and tides; private transfers can also be arranged. Please note, boat scheduling is restricted by the tide levels at the river mouth of Mersing, which changes at very hour of the day, every day. As such, you can request to know the boat schedules before you make your booking.
If you prefer to self-drive (see our car rental suggestions), there are several secure car parks close to the boat jetty in Mersing.
Detailed directions will be provided once you confirm a booking through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Malaysia and getting around
- Singapore Changi 130.0 km SIN
- Kuala Lumpur 345.0 km KUL
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 16.0 km
- Restaurant 16.0 km