Best time to go: April to July. Monsoon season is November to February
Duration: 2 nights
Travel time: 2.5 hours from Singapore to Tanjung Leman. 20 mins boat ride to Pulau Sibu
This is the first of the Malaysia islands off the coast of Johor that Dan and I visited. It was a long weekend in May for the Vesak Day public holiday. We’d been too late and disorganised in booking anything so flight prices to all the usual places had rocketed so we looked closer to home and discovered the island of Pulau Sibu.
Getting to Pulau Sibu from Singapore
It is quicker to get to Sibu compared to some of the other Malaysian islands nearby such as Besar, Rawa or Tioman. The Tanjung Leman jetty is around 30-45 mins closer than Mersing, where you depart for those other islands.
As we had the Friday off for the long weekend, we left around 12pm that afternoon, deciding to take the shared van organised by the resort we were staying, which leaves from a car park behind Orchard Road. We were sharing with four other guests and as we were first to arrive we snagged the back seat thinking we could spread ourselves out more. Our smugness vanished, however, when we realised we were sitting above the back axel so literally jumped out of our seats every time the van went over the slightest bump.
The journey itself though was pretty smooth and crossing the border was not as bad as we thought. The boat was waiting for us at Tanjung Leman jetty and by 3pm we were on the beach and Singapore was miles from our thoughts.
Where to stay in Pulau Sibu
There are a few different accommodation options and they’re all quite similar but all have different beaches. We initially tried to book the Rimba Resort but it was sold out so we ended up staying at the Sea Gypsy resort.
We couldn’t recommend this place enough. The staff are super friendly, the beach is gorgeous and there’s a really nice vibe to the place. It’s very family friendly but don’t worry, the owners know what they’re doing and tend to put groups with families together and away from couples who may be looking for a more romantic getaway just themselves.
The beach chalets are rustic but charming. There was no aircon but there is a ceiling fan and all the windows open out. We had asked for one of the chalets closest to the sea so we got a nice breeze and it was amazing to fall asleep while listening to the waves lapping the shore at night. Plus the mosquito net over the bed helped to keep the nasties away.
The Sea Gypsy resort also had some of the best food I’ve had in Malaysia – all the meals are included as part of the two-night accommodation package but it wasn’t the normal mass produced buffet style you get at these places. There was only one or two dishes to choose from but they were really tasty and had a nice home cooked feel to them. On a Saturday night, they also do a big BBQ which had plenty of meat and fish to choose from, all cooked fresh in front of you.
What to do in Pulau Sibu
If you’re going to Sibu, you’re going to chill-out and relax. There are no shops to speak of and you’ll normally be confined to your resort, where you can make your own entertainment or do some excursions.
The water isn’t as clear as islands like Pulau Rawa or Tioman but the resort organises a daily snorkelling trip out to a beautiful tiny island nearby, which is about 25 metres long and 15 metres wide. You can snorkel round it in less than 15-20 minutes but there’s some nice fish to see and apparently sometimes you will find a reef shark roaming around, although not when we were there unfortunately.
The resort also offers other excursions like a sunset fishing trip or a jungle trek on nearby Pulau Tinggi to see some waterfalls but we were pretty happy with some quality beach time with our frisbee and doing some kayaking.
Go to Sibu if you need a quick or unplanned getaway from Singapore. It’s easy to get to and more affordable compared to some other resorts nearby. It would also be a great choice if you’re traveling in a group. We’ll definitely go back one day and we will definitely be staying at the Sea Gypsy.
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