Lush green undergrowth shrouds the resort from the rest of the island; wooden walkways lead to grown-up treehouses. Some are perched directly above the ocean, boasting breath-taking sea views. Others have vast hydro-pools hidden under palm trees. All are super stylish. Spend your days sauntering between the pool and beach, snorkelling amongst multi-coloured coral, and refuelling in one of the 3 restaurants and bars. JapaMala is a sanctuary of tranquillity in a sublime corner of the world; the hardest decision you’ll have to make is where to soak in those views from...
- Peaceful island life - perfect for those seeking serenity and rejuvenation
- Villas are stylish, spacious and serene; commanding total privacy amongst the lush jungle, many also have ocean views
- A long, pristine stretch of private beach, plus a technicolour underwater world with tiger fish, blue crabs, red snapper, garoupa and coral
- Spoil yourself in the spa with a massage under the jungle canopy, followed by a dip in the clifftop hot tub
- Endless luxury and flawless service from the moment we arrived
- Transfers require some advance planning - you can only reach Tioman island by public ferry which needs to be booked at least 2 weeks in advance
- With 3 kayaks and 6 cabanas on the jetty, it's worth bagging them early. Likewise, there are only 6 sunloungers on the beach (but the hotel assure us mattresses can be added if needs be...)
- Mozzies and sandflies are prevalent, but Tiger Balm is provided
- WiFi is patchy and inconsistent - time to disconnect properly
- A grown-up retreat so children under 16 are not permitted
Best time to go
Our top tips
Also ensure that you keep your room shut - while we were there, some guests forgot and the local monkeys raided their minibar!
- Beach Resort
- 16 villas
- Restaurant and bar
- Over 16s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- TV room
There are 16 Kampung-style villas dotted between the trees and boulders, complementing the natural landscape and providing plenty of privacy. Each is rustic-chic unique and feels impossibly luxurious. Bathrooms all feature powerful rainfall showers.
We were in a Tree Top Chalet and spent a lot of time on the terrace, curled up in our suspended wicker chair. We often had monkeys perched on our windowsill and the jungle provided a soothing soundtrack. Sea Cliff Chalets are similar, but they jut out over the canopy, with mesmerizing views of the ocean.
The Sarang rooms are more luxurious. Jungle Luxe Sarangs have a living area and an outdoor tub. Split-level Hillside Sarangs have a veranda, a living space and a plunge pool. Seaview Sarang is super-secluded and chic inside, but for ultimate romance, opt for the spacious Beach Sarang, where you can gaze out to sea from your private plunge pool and raised terrace.
The more modern two-storey Penghulu’s House can be found at the end of the resort, right on the beach. It has a double and a twin bedroom, lots of living space, and its own pool.
- Air conditioning
- DVD player
There are two restaurants and one very special bar at JapaMala: beachfront Tamarind Tioman (Asian, with a focus on Thai cuisine); poolside Italian restaurant Il Tempio; striking Mandi Mandi cocktail pavilion, perched directly above the turquoise water.
Come sunset, everyone gathers at Mandi Mandi at the end of the jetty for cocktails. It’s the definition of romantic. They also host the occasional barbecue here.
We took dinner at Tamarind Tioman, where spicy Thai fusion is served by candlelight. Spring rolls were crisp, stir-fried vegetables spicy, and lemongrass prawns plump and juicy.
Our lunchtime pizza at Italian Il Tempio was light and full of flavour, but we got serious food envy as we watched plates of grilled fish and bruschetta pass us.
An indulgent and leisurely breakfast, served at Tamarind Tioman, was a sprawling spread of fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cakes. An a la carte menu of hot dishes includes eggs, pancakes and some local dishes.
Fresh juices, coffee and cocktails are served throughout the day at all three locations, and drinks and nibbles can be ordered to your sun spot.
- Room service
- You can easily spend hours chasing colourful fish through the corals; we saw blacktip reef sharks, clown fish and parrot fish. Dive excursions can be arranged, too
- Jump in the kayak and paddle along the coast line, discovering hidden coves; on your return, curl up in a cabana, or sprawl on the bamboo mats on sand, with a book in hand (there’s a huge selection available in the book-swap library)
- Take a trek to Genting, keeping your eyes peeled for tropical birds, monkeys and monitor lizards
- The hotel's activity provider Travels with Samadhi can arrange excursions to waterfalls, visits to Monkey Bay Marine Park, and round-island cruises, plus interesting side trips to enliven the transfer if you're heading next to sister property Villa Samadhi in KL
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Plantlife / flora
- Scuba diving courses
- Well being
This is predominantly a grown-up resort for couples, and children under 16 are not permitted.
Family friendly accommodation:
Two-storey Penghulu's House is the resort's only family villa, right on the beach. The double bedroom has a vast living space opening to a spectacular view of the sea; the twin has direct access to a beautifully decked plunge pool.
Extra Beds Available
Tioman island is a 2-3 hour boat journey off the east coast of Malaysia.
There are no flights to Tioman Island. Fly to Singapore (a 4-5 hour drive) or Kuala Lumpur (a 5-6 hour drive). Both are major air hubs served by numerous airlines
Land and Boat transfers:
Transfers from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Mersing ferry port take around 4-6 hours. The hotel can help arrange a private driver, or you can opt for the daily bus to Mersing bus station.
From Mersing jetty the only way to reach Tioman Island is via public ferry and the crossing takes 2-3 hours. Please note ferry tickets are in high demand - make sure you book at least 14 days in advance to guarantee a ticket.
The hotel will arrange transfers from the ferry drop off point. If you need help in arranging transfers, the hotel will be able to point you in the right direction.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Malaysia and getting around
- Tioman 10.0 km TOD
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 10.0 km
- Restaurant 10.0 km