Tioman, with its lofty, cloud-shrouded mountains, cascading waterfalls, rain-forested slopes and multitude of bays and beaches, is Malaysia’s most spectacular beach destination. It is twenty years since these natural assets caught the attention of the world, and particularly of the inhabitants of nearby Singapore, and since then development has been relentless and remorseless, to the stage where Tioman’s littered beaches are so overdeveloped that they can no longer be recommended. Juara beach, with its three rivers spilling into the sea, is the least unspoiled beach on the island - just watch out for jellyfish and Portuguese Men of War, both of which can pack quite a sting. Even worse are the sandflies:
“My husband and I had been lying on towels on the beach for fifteen minutes when our backs started itching like crazy. Two days later the fifteen lumps on my back had filled with puss and grown to the size of Hong Kong dollars. They took three weeks to subside, and my back is still scarred from them.”
It’s quite sad, what has happened to Tioman. In the 1970s Time magazine ranked the island as one of the top ten beach destinations in the world – now it doesn’t even make it into the top hundred. The new and environmentally-insensitive marina at Tekek, whilst great for yachtsmen, has destroyed even more of the island’s marine flora and fauna.
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