Discovering Pulau Sibu: Things To Do in The Hidden Gem of Malaysia
Sibu Island, is situated off the coast of Mersing, Johor Bahru. Prior to my trip to Pulau Sibu, I had never heard of Sibu Island. That gave me a sense of adventure and excitement to explore an island that is hardly on a traveller’s list when visiting Malaysia’s East Coast. Secluded, unexplored, rustic — now that’s what I call an island holiday!
Getting to Pulau Sibu
The jetty to Pulau Sibu is located in Tanjung Leman, a 5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. There is a secured car park at the jetty for about RM4 a day for the first two days and RM8 a day for subsequent days. Most of the boats leaving the jetty are usually arranged by the resorts with their own boats.
To enter the area of Sibu Island, I was required to pay a ‘Jetty Fee’ of RM5.30, as well as a ‘Johor National Park Conservation Fee’. Locals pay RM5 for that, and foreigners are required to pay RM20. The ride towards the island can be a little bumpy, so make sure you come prepared with clothes and shoes (or better still, just wear slippers) that you don’t mind getting wet!
The chalets at the Sea Gypsy Village Resort.
There are several types of resort and homestay accommodations located around Pulau Sibu. During my visit, I stayed at the Sea Gypsy Village Resort, a spacious wooden chalet-style resort facing the east side of the island. The resort is all-inclusive with a room, board and transport — which made it fuss-free and convenient. I had all my meals at the resort’s restaurant, which offered an array of cuisines from Western to Asian. I also went over to the bamboo-based Rimba Resort during my stay on the island. It is one of the prettiest beach resorts located towards the island’s north side.
Best Time to Visit Pulau Sibu
The best time to visit the island is from April to September. Most of the resorts on Pulau Sibu and the rest of the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia close for the monsoon season from October to March.
Exploring Sibu Island
Walking the entire length of Pulau Sibu is possible. Most of the resorts are linked to one another either by the beach or by a marked pathway through the jungle. There are also concrete walkways circling the island at some points.
If you’re up for some adventure, take a walk around the island — during my stroll, I visited the Rimba Resort for sun-downers in the evenings, strolled through coconut plantations, climbed volcanic rocks and admired the mangrove swamps.
The small village of Kampung Duku.
Walking through coconut plantations during my stroll around the island.
Kampung Duku: Where the Locals Live
There is only one village on Pulau Sibu, located on the southwest corner of the island. It is called Kampung Duku and is home to about 200 people. Most of the villagers there live in Malay traditional stilt houses and work as fishermen, but tourism now plays a big part in their lives. Make a visit to the village and have a look around.
Everyone’s favourite photo spot is the big ‘Pulau Sibu’ sign, so I took a photo there too! There are also a couple of coffee shops in the central part of the village for you to chill for a cuppa with the locals.
One of the many secluded beaches on Sibu Island.
The colourful volcanic patterns that can be found on the rocks at Sibu Island
An Underwater Paradise
Of course, Pulau Sibu is a paradise for the nature lovers and the underwater explorers. The island has been a protected National Marine Park area since 1993. It is no surprise then to find its waters teeming with beautiful corals and fishes. You can go for some underwater activities such as diving, snorkelling, paddling and swimming.
Unfortunately, during my visit to the island, the seas were rough and I only managed to slot in one dive (with terrible visibility). That kinda put a damper on my holiday, but Pulau Sibu still somehow managed to make up for it.
The famous spot that most resorts will recommend for daily snorkelling is Sibu Coral Garden, which as its name implies, is a coral paradise.
Witnessing the island sunset.
The beautiful view of the beach from my chalet at the Sea Gypsy Resort.
The Island Beaches
For those who prefer spending lazy days on the beach, the beaches on the north and northeast side of the island have long stretches of golden sand that gradually slopes into the sea, making it perfect for swimming.
This part of the island is divided from the southeast side by a series of steep cliffs with rocks of colourful dark red and green patterns. They are formed a long, long time ago by the composition of layers of volcanic ash that ran through flowing lavas – a proof of the once volcanic nature of the island. There are also sea caves and abrupt arches along these cliffs — which of course, are too dangerous to enter or explore.
Boats coming into the island.
The Other Side of the Island
On the other side of Pulau Sibu, especially on the southwest coast– the beaches are sheltered from the winds from the open South China Sea. The sea is so calm on this part of the island that mangrove trees grow abundantly along the shores — which can be seen during the boat ride to the island.
Most of the island’s small wooden jetties are built on this side of the island, and boats from the mainland usually arrive here. There are also homestay resorts here of course, like the Coconut Village Resort — but I much prefer the quieter, more secluded side of the island where I stayed.
Going through the lush forests to get around the island.
Beautiful Pulau Sibu
Pulau Sibu is a relatively less known island on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia – but that is what makes the island more appealing. It is peaceful and calm, beautiful and breathtaking, and rustic and unexplored. You wouldn’t find as many tourists here as compared to Pulau Tioman or Pulau Perhentian — and that’s why I love it! It is a family island with most resorts providing facilities for children; and for those looking to disconnect from the outside world, the island is secluded enough to offer you the quiet time you need. So on your next holiday, take a trip out to Sibu Island for chill-out and relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.