I’ve lost count, but I’m pretty certain it’s rained all but three or four days in the past six weeks in Auckland. As the final month of an admittedly mild, but oh-so-wet winter limped to its depressing, soggy end, my mind’s been drifting back to the tropics and my favourite island in the world.
Malaysia’s Tioman Island lies to the east of Malay peninsula and is approximately 30-kilometres by 10-kilometres of untouched virgin jungle, white sand and some of the best snorkelling and diving on the planet. While most of the accomodation ranges from backpacker to flashpacker to mid-level, there is one large 4-star resort, and in Japamala, one quietly sensational little 5-star boutique eco-resort.
Located at the southern tip of the island, Japamala is a place where not a single tree was cut down nor a solitary boulder removed in the construction of this exquisite retreat. I’d first heard about Japamala about a dozen years ago when Tioman entered my radar as a largely untouched tropical paradise. Given my favourite 2-3 star digs on Tioman – Nazri’s Place in the village of Air Batang – had so successfully gotten under my skin, just how would I feel about the island’s only true 5-star property?
Well, if you click here you can read my New Zealand Herald feature article all about Japamala, but to cut to the chase, when my wife and I honeymooned there in late 2017, we loved it. From the article:
After check-in at the outdoor reception at the base of the jetty, we were shown to our room. “Room” isn’t really accurate though, because along a wooden boardwalk into the forest with boulders all around was our split-level jungle house. Enveloped by the oversized foliage I’ve always loved, Japamala’s “Hillside Sarangs” (sarang means “nest”, “den” or “lair” in Malay) are rustic, luxurious homes where not a single tree nor boulder has been removed.
This leads to awesome little quirks like bathrooms with big boulders partially inside. The boardwalks of the property twist and turn to work around (and with) nature. Our sarang had a living room, balcony and plunge pool with day bed on level one and the bedroom and bathroom on level two. Those four nights with the accompanying gentle hum of the Tioman jungle were some of the best sleeps I’ve had in years.
Click here to visit Japamala’s official website, click here if you haven’t yet read my Herald article, and scroll below for my top 40 Japamala photos. And then get started booking your trip!