JapaMala Resort

Tioman Island, Tioman & East Coast, Malaysia
Book from GBP Book from £150 per night

JapaMala Resort

Tioman Island, Tioman & East Coast, Malaysia

A super-stylish island retreat, with luxurious treetop living and an unspoilt private beach - ultimate romance and total relaxation

A super-stylish island retreat, with luxurious treetop living and an unspoilt private beach - ultimate romance and total relaxation

After our pre-dawn ferry to Tioman Island, the set for the 1958 film South Pacific, we were met with glowing smiles, ushered onto a private speedboat and whisked away to JapaMala’s picture-perfect cove. Soon, we were sat in a beachfront cabana, watching the sun colouring the sky pink and revealing the crystal-clear South China Sea. All we could hear was the wind rustling through the jungle, the waves breaking on the white sands, and the distant chatter of monkeys and chirping of birds.

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. 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...

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • The spa will be closed between 16th-25th November 2024
  • Transfers require some advance planning: private transfer is available March-October from Villa Samadhi; otherwise, a public ferry runs to Tioman Island; both must be booked 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 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 12 are not permitted

Best time to go

Tioman Island is just 2 degrees from the equator, meaning the weather is generally a hot 30 degrees+ all year round. May to August is peak season, but March, April, September and October are lovely months to visit, too. Tropical rainstorms sometimes make an appearance, but burn off quickly. Monsoon season is from November to February and can affect access to the island and some facilities, like the spa, Il Tempio and Mandi-Mandi restaurants.

Our top tips

Don your snorkelling equipment at the end of the jetty and paddle towards the coral around the tip of the bay, it’s more colourful and plentiful. Staff will point it out for you.

Also ensure that you keep your room shut - while we were there, some guests forgot and the local monkeys raided their minibar!

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Great Outdoors
Romantic
Spa
  • Beach Resort
  • 16 villas
  • Restaurants/bars
  • Over 12s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • TV room
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Minibar
  • TV

Eating

There are three restaurants at JapaMala: beachfront Tamarind Tioman (fantastic Malaysian cuisine); poolside Italian restaurant Il Tempio; striking Mandi-Mandi seafood and cocktail pavilion, perched directly above the turquoise water.

We took dinner at Tamarind Tioman, where classic Malaysian fare 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 fresh fish and bruschetta pass us. Come sunset, everyone gathers at Mandi-Mandi at the end of the jetty for grilled seafood, cocktails and infinite views across the South East China Sea. It’s the definition of romantic.

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. During rainy season (November-February), access to Il Tempio and Mandi-Mandi can be restricted, but the menu at the former will be available at Tamarind Tioman.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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 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:

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

This is predominantly a grown-up resort for couples, and children under 12 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. Hillside Sarang, Seaview Sarang, and Beach Sarang can all fit an extra bed.

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Location

Location
Tioman Island is a 2-3 hour boat journey off the east coast of Malaysia.

By Air:
There are no flights to Tioman Island, so you'll need to fly into Singapore Changi or Kuala Lumpur International; both are major airports served by numerous airlines. From here, you'll take a car transfer followed by a boat to Tioman.

Land and Boat transfers:
The hotel operates a car and ferry shuttle service from sister hotel Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur from March-October. This needs to be booked at least 7 days in advance.

Otherwise, you'll need to get a public ferry. Transfers from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Mersing ferry port take around 3-5 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 ferry crossing to Tioman Island 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

Airports:

  • Singapore Changi 168.0 km SIN
  • Kuala Lumpur International 345.0 km KUL

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

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