Juara beach on Tioman Island in Malaysia is the very definition of paradise, and whilst it has started to get more and more attention – and visitors – in recent years, it is still resisting the mass development that has engulfed the rest of the islands in the region.
If someone told you to imagine a tropical paradise, then you would probably think of South East Asia, a vast region filled with idyllic tropical islands. Then you would immediately conjure up images of white sand beaches framed by lush, tropical jungle, palm trees swaying in a warm breeze and clear cerulean seas filled with wildlife. Then you would try to forget the hordes of package tourists and concrete hotels and resorts that are infesting more and more of these islands every year and try to imagine instead a local village atmosphere, with just a few small beach huts to stay in and barely another soul around.
You would be imagining Juara beach.
Juara is a small beach, hidden away on the East side of Tioman island in Malaysia, and unlike the more commercially developed and busier towns and beaches on the islands Western coast, it has still managed to retain that elusive small village atmosphere and has limited development along its long stretch of curved coastline.
‘All those Robinson Crusoe fantasies had finally come true!’
It is a little difficult to get to, which is probably one of the reasons it isn’t as popular or busy as some of the other beaches, but after making the effort to reach it I was totally blown away by how secluded and isolated it felt, exactly what I was after and I was so glad I did! Apart from the local villagers – who were extremely friendly – I could count the other backpackers and travellers I met during my week there on one hand and still have fingers to spare, and I spent my self imposed exile in blissful peace and quiet, enjoying jungle walks and reading a book on a stunning white sand beach that I had all to myself most of the time! All those Robinson Crusoe fantasies had finally come true!
The beach itself is very loosely divided by a small headland of rocks and is considered to be two separate beaches, but it is still technically one long stretch of stunning beach and you can easily walk along it and cross from north to south without any problems. If you are lucky – as I was most days – then you can walk from one end to the other without seeing a soul and then simply relax on your very own piece of paradise with a good book and no one else around! If the peace and quiet get a bit much for you, the swimming and snorkelling is absolutely amazing! Be careful though if you are heading into the ocean in the monsoon season there can be jellyfish about and some strong riptides can start to pick up making conditions a little less favourable, but not impossible to enjoy.
I was there in what was technically the off season at the time so that probably helped make my dream of having the place almost entirely to myself a reality, and now I’m telling you all about it I’ve probably contributed to ruining it forever, so hush! Keep it to yourselves!
Where To Stay On Juara Beach.
There are a few small beach hut operations spread out along the beach, so that you can walk along the beach itself or the long paved road that follows the coastline a little inland without the place ever feeling too built up or crowded.
There is a small convenience shop and a small restaurant that specialises in fresh fish caught just off shore (as well as doing some of the best fish sambal and rice I have ever tasted!) and a great little treehouse bar that is very laid back and loves playing the ubiquitous backpacker soundtrack (basically an old Bob Marley CD).
It helps that Tioman island is a duty free zone so alcohol is very cheap here compared to the conservative Singapore and Malaysian mainland. If you end up staying after sundown make sure you have a torch on you to help you get back home as there are no streetlights along the concrete path to the beach huts.
What Is There To Do?
There are plenty of things to do to keep you from getting too bored though, just in case the idea of a near deserted tropical paradise isn’t enough for you!
For those of you who feel the need for a little mild exercise there are easy hikes through the jungle with trails marked with red and yellow markers on the trees. There is a gorgeous waterfall an easy twenty minutes walk up hill that is perfect for a swim and cool down, and there are plenty of other hikes or walks to other parts of the island for those with a mind to walk further.
Surfing is an option on Juara thanks to a local beach hut owner who also happens to be a surfer and gives surfing lessons, and there are a bunch of dive operations on the other side of the island if you want to get your diving qualifications.
The snorkelling is amazing just off the beach, or if you prefer you can head back over to one of the other beaches on the west coast where you can arrange a snorkelling tour of nearby islands such as Pulau Tulai or Renggis island where the snorkelling is absolutely stunning. Unless you have a real thing for snorkelling however, there really isn’t the need to go to that expense as the snorkelling just off the beach at Juara – or any of the other beaches in fact – is great.
The Juara Turtle Project is located on the South Beach and is open to visitors who are interested in turtle conservation for a small donation fee. It is well worth visiting if you are there. It does hold some limited volunteering opportunities too for anyone who is interested.
How To Get There.
Juara beach is accessible by a long road from Tekek that essentially cuts straight through the jungle. This used to be a simple dirt road that could only be passed by a four wheel drive vehicle or on foot, but now that has been replaced with something resembling a normal concrete road that most vehicles can pass on.
Once you get off the ferry at Tekek, you will immediately be faced with the 4WD taxi mafia. These are basically drivers who have colluded to jack up the prices to extortionate rates far beyond what is reasonable, because they know most people will have no choice but to pay. Haggling is generally useless as they are all pretty much in cahoots. They charge per person as well, which is just a way for them to get more money.
If you are lucky, there will be a local heading across the road in their own car, and you can ask them to take you for much less than the taxi mafia are demanding.
Another way if you are relatively fit and feeling up to a long walk is to trek on the same road across to Juara beach. It isn’t difficult, the road is concrete and flat, but it is hot and will take a good few hours. Take plenty of water.
You can also get a speedboat to take you from Tekek or one of the other beaches to Juara, but it is seriously expensive!
Basically it is either a hassle or relatively expensive to get over to Juara beach, but it is totally worth it whichever way you choose. Yes it is a pain in the backside, but this hassle is what has led most people to simply head up to ABC beach or Genting, and is keeping Juara beach relatively quiet and undeveloped, so you can’t complain too much at it! Besides, they do say the bigger the effort the bigger the reward, and that is certainly true in the case of Juara Beach!
Have you ever been to Tioman island or Juara beach? What did you think?
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My sister and I have been wanting to go to Malaysia for years. Our interest is in snorkeling and it sounds as if that was great! We want to be sure the reefs are healthy after some recent(ish) cyclones in the region.
You should definitely go! The snorkelling on the islands is amazing, the Perhentians and Langkawi are good for diving and snorkelling too.
Oh dear – I see a new passport stamp (an expensive one) in my future! Thanks for giving me the names of those places to go.
Haha no problem. Don’t worry Malaysia can actually be a pretty cheap destination! Check out my destination guide or feel free to contact me if you need any more info. 🙂
I wish we had gone here! Malaysia is the one place that I hate to say I don’t think we did properly as neither of us were keen. I don’t think we hit the right spots – probably too excited to get to Thailand as we were travelling overland! If we had gone here though I’m sure our opinions would be very different; it looks amazing.
It really is amazing Ayla, and is often overlooked by many backpackers too so you aren’t alone! ;D There’s always another trip though?
OMG it looks unbelievable there! You really know how to sell a destination!
Thanks, I don’t think it’s me though, Tioman island pretty much sells itself, you just have to look at it!
I totally missed Malaysia out when I was in SEA! Looking at these pictures maybe I should think about heading back? Love the website by the way!
Thank you Kate, I’m glad you like it and I appreciate the compliment! And yes, there are always other trips. Malaysia is definitely worth a trip.
I stayed in Malaysia for around 6 weeks last year, but I didn’t visit any beaches – gah! This place looks stunning and definitely a place to visit on my next trip to Malaysia.
It really is worth heading back there for, Malaysia has some fantastic islands, Langkawi and the Perhentians are well worth stopping off at too. 🙂
We read a lot of good things about this beach when we were traveling around Malaysia, finally we got “trapped” in Perhentian (we loved it so much that it was too hard to leave) and in the end we didn’t have time to go to Tioman. Next time will do, especially after reading this post!!
Thanks for the comment Gabor. That’s happened to me a lot too! Islands do have a way of making you throw plans out of the window! I’m glad the article has made you want to go back. 🙂
Those are always the best beaches, one a little hard to get to but that means less people and beach all to yourself! You look pretty happy in that waterfall! Love it 🙂
Haha, thanks! I love waterfalls they are natures spas! Perfect for a cool down after a hike in a hot jungle! You are so right about the beaches too, always worth that little extra effort!
I have just returned from Tioman last week. Although I am a Malaysian and have been living here for 27 years, it was my first time visiting Tioman [and have never been to the Perhentians too!]. After doing some research, I stayed at Panuba Inn at Panuba Bay because as you said, the west coast is developed but I found that Panuba is the only place with relaxed and quiet atmosphere.
And I think Tioman is beautiful. The island is quite underrated compared to Bali or Boracay but it is amazingly stunning. The water is very clear and the place is so laid-back.
I will surely return to Tioman 🙂
Thanks for the comment Khai, I will definitely return there some day myself! I completely agree it is underrated, but maybe that is why it isn’t as developed and that can only be a good thing! ;D
Hahaah I agree that it is a good thing! 🙂
This is an excellent blog. Thankyou. I love reading your work and have got a lot of helpful tips too.
Thank you Yasmin, glad to be of service. 🙂
As a Malaysian, i am glad to read through all of these good comments about Malaysia, come visit us and find out more about this beautiful country 🙂
Thanks Simon, it really is one of my favourite countries and such an amazing place!
I have a week in Singapore in January and was thinking of going to Tioman Island. Reading your post about Juara beach really makes me want to go there. I have a couple of questions though. Do you think it’s worth going for just 3 nights or is it to remote? Also would it be safe for a female traveller on their own? I have travelled lots before so I’m not inexperienced.
I’m looking forward to your reply!
Hi Mirjam, thanks for the comment and I’m glad you liked the article. First of all yes Malaysia in general is very safe, whether as a woman travelling alone or a man. The same reasonable common sense precautions you use everywhere else will be absolutely fine here too. Now as for three nights, that depends. Does that include transit time or are you factoring that in separately? The beach itself isn’t too remote from the West side of the island (transport is easy if expensive to arrange) but will take a good 40 – 45 minutes by jeep from Tekek, and then you have the ferry crossing and so on to contend with, so you will have the first day and the last day taken up almost entirely by transit getting there and back, and you’ll only have one full day and night there. Personally I’d like more than that, but that’s up to you.
This looks perfect!
It really was!
I was at Tioman last year, but stayed mostly around Tekek and Salang, wish I’d known about Juara!
Well why weren’t you reading this article then? Haha! It’s a good excuse to go back? ;D
We’re going in July as part of a bigger trip – I hope it hasn’t changed too much. Looking forward to the Turtle Sanctuary and relaxing.
I hope it hasn’t changed too much for you too Claire. That is unfortunately the downside to backpackers discovering relatively untouched places, the crowds eventually follow. I’m sure it won’t have though because most visitors still head to the West side of the island which is easier to get to and has a lot more backpacker accommodation, party beaches etc. Have an amazing time there (and enjoy Malaysia, it is truly one of my favourite places!) and come back and let me know how it is there now?
Thanks. We went to Malaysia 20 years ago as part of a 14 month trip, not to Tioman though. We did go to the Perhentian Islands which were amazing and ‘undiscovered’, but didn’t want to spoil that memory by returning! I’ll let you know how it goes.
I am definitely adding Tioman island to my Malaysia must see list after this! Those beaches look perfect!
They are, and I definitely recommend Tioman in general.
We have just returned from our trip (KL, Singapore, Tioman, Cameron Highlands, Penang). We really enjoyed Juara but didn’t really stay in backpacking accommodation as this was a family holiday. We had 2 huts for the four of us, facing the beach. We went via Tangun Gemok as the ferry times suited us better and paid 100 ringgit for a taxi across the Island.
The downside – a new concrete hotel has been constructed next to it! I really don’t know how they’ve got away with it considering the nighttime lighting and impact on the nesting turtles etc. But money talks and I’m sure some ‘backhanders’ were involved. This caters more for Malaysian tourists apparently. It’s only a couple of floors so during the day not too much of an eyesore. Also, surprisingly it didn’t make the beach crowded. The owners of our place said that another construction is planned on the other side of them too sadly. I’m just so glad any construction works weren’t going on whilst we were there.
The beach was pristine. People work hard to keep it so, especially volunteers from the Juara Turtle project. We had a tour there and it was very informative. I’ve come back wanting to do some fundraising for them. One evening we also saw baby turtles being released – one of my highlights of our trip. Apart from not doing very much at all, relaxing in a hammock on the veranda, eating lovely food and being incredibly lazy, we did a very good day snorkelling trip and took a trek to one of the waterfalls and had the pool to ourselves. And I had the best massaging Jacuzzi! The wildlife was amazing. We saw monkeys, squirrels, birds, huge butterflies, all sorts of fish, reef sharks, rays, different types of bats and a flying lima did a display for us each evening at the same time by the resort.
I would love to return but a bit reluctant with the developments going on. Pulau Aur looks promising though – I did look into that and a guy there with beach huts offers the Robinson Crusoe experience if you’re after that.
Oh no, that is so sad to hear they are developing on that beach! Although I suppose it was inevitable at some point. Typical mass tourism destroying the thing backpackers went there for in the first place!
Love what you wrote! Thank you… We are planning to go there next July (2018) — Is it possible to buy fresh fruits around ?(We just booked a little chalet, we are a family of 4, two teens) Is the food expensive? (teens lol!!) We are heading for 4 nights – Hope we will easily find a GOOD taxi that can transports us back and forth to the ferry at a good price as well.. How is the fishing? Any restaurants can cook your fish? Sorry, so many questions! Have been struggleling beetwen the popular Swiss Cottage Resort in Tekek and Permai Chalet Tioman.. with that troup of 4 that we are, sometimes we don’t wan’t it to be too complicated… Oh and how about the ferry ? Should we book ahead on internet ? Thanks! Julie from Canada
Thank you Julie, I’m really happy you enjoyed it, but woah! A lot of questions there! Haha. Okay first off it is an amazing island and very, very, very easy to just turn up and sort things out when you are there. I’ve never stayed in either of those places but there are SO many amazing beach huts, chalets and guesthouses there you won’t have any problems. I personally just turn up, find a place I like and barter for however many nights I want to stay. The food is amazing, and very fresh. Yes you can buy fresh fruit everywhere and the fish is cooked fresh and well. Try the fish sambal, it really is delicious, and most beach front restaurants will cook it! I remember sharing a fish meal with a local kitten because it had slept on my knee while I waited for the fisherman to literally bring my dinner to the chef who was cooking it (at a beachfront restaurant on Juara!) And as for the ferry you can book it the day before in Mersing (just go up to the Ferry counter) if you want piece of mind, and spend the night there, or you can do as I did, just get there early one morning and buy your tickets then. Easy. 🙂