“A super-stylish island retreat, with luxurious treetop living and an unspoilt private beach - ultimate romance and total relaxation”
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 getting spoilt in the spa. JapaMala is a sanctuary of tranquillity in a sublime corner of the world; the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which restaurant to eat in...
- 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
- Endless luxury and flawless service from the moment we arrived
- Complimentary sunset cocktails served at the end of the jetty, very romantic
- Construction work is currently taking place at the resort so there may be some related noise
- Active types may get a little bored, but JapaMala can arrange boat trips and there are treks through the jungle to the local village
- 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 are sandflies are prevalent, but JapaMala provide Tiger Balm
- A grown-up retreat so children under 12 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
- 13 villas
- Restaurant and bar
- Over 12s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- TV room
- Snorkelling + kayak
- Diving (by arrangement)
There are 13 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. Spilt-level Hillside Sarangs have a veranda, a living space and a plunge pool. For ultimate romance, opt for the super-secluded Seaview Sarang, where you can gaze out to sea from your private plunge pool.
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
- CD player
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
There are tree restaurants at JapaMala: split-level Mandi Mandi pavilion (Barbecue and Grill), nestled in the jungle; beachfront Tamarind Tioman (Asian, with a focus on Thai cuisine); and newer Italian restaurant Il Tempio.
Come sunset, everyone gathers at the end of the jetty for complimentary cocktails from the bar. 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 Mandi Mandi 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.
- Coffee / tea making
- 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)
- Spoil yourself in the spa with a massage under the jungle canopy, followed by a dip in the clifftop hot tub. Treatments include the “Healers” massage, a Thai oil massage and pre-sun body conditioning
- 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, so if you are travelling as a family, we’d suggest you stay here only if you have teenagers.
Teens (over 12)
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.
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Tioman island is a 1.5 hour boat journey off the east coast of Malaysia.
Systematic Aviation Services, operate 10-seat Cessna Grand Caravan from Kuala Lumpur Subang Airport to Tioman island (not daily), as well as chartered planes at any time on request (slightly more expensive).
Japamala offers a land transfer by shared mini van from Kuala Lumpur to Mersing, and from there you board Japamala’s private speed boat for the 45-mile crossing to Tioman Island - though note that it doesn't run during monsoon season (Nov-Feb). Instead, you can catch the public ferry (see below). The hotel also offers private car transfers from both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and can provide transfers just from Mersing to the hotel, too.
By Bus and Boat:
If you'd rather travel under your own steam, you can jump on a boat (operated by Blue Water Express Ferry) from Mersing jetty in Malaysia. These take around 1.5hrs - aim to travel in the morning as ferries are sometimes cancelled in the afternoon, when the water becomes choppier. Daily buses go from both Kuala Lumpur (5-6 hours) and Singapore (3 hours) to Mersing bus station. From here it's a few minutes in a taxi, or a 10-minute walk, to the jetty.
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