Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / tioman

Following the previous post about diving at Tioman, I thought I’d share what are some of the choices of food available at Salang Bay (since food is mostly an ala carte affair here)

There are probably a dozen or so food and drinks outlets along Salang Bay, two duty free shop (one only sells alcohol to-go), and a partially stocked convenient store. In another word, everything essential is available.

Salang Indah Restaurant, tomyam, traditional Malay food, and more
Salang Indah Restaurant, tomyam, traditional Malay food, and more

One of the biggest restaurants here is Salang Indah Restaurant (yah these guys aren’t very creative with naming business establishments), located just a 100 meter north of jetty. They are one of the very few that open for business throughout the day. There’s plenty of tables and you get seated right next to the beach, sea breeze and holiday mood, very nice.

Here you can find Thai food, sandwiches, toast, pancakes, porridge, and even roti canai. The tomyam, kailan ikan masin, and omelet we had was pretty decent. At 6-8 ringgit per dish it wasn’t expensive either.

However, don’t ever eat here if you’re in a hurry. Service is super slow and ultra terrible. We asked a server to expedite our order on second visit as we had to dive within 25 minutes, she acknowledged and then sat down on and started playing with her phone, we ended up canceling the order 25 minutes later as they haven’t started cooking yet. No apologies given either.

Salang Beach Restaurant - Chinese food (pork free though)
Salang Beach Restaurant – Chinese food (pork free though)

The lone Chinese restaurant at Salang Bay is another super creatively named place called Salang Beach Restaurant. This place is perhaps a 8-10 minute walk north of the jetty.

We had clay pot mutton (RM 16), bean curd (Rm 13), and cabbage soup (RM 8) to go with some steamed rice. The mutton was tender and rather tasty, but the other two dishes were quite bland. We had to ask for soya sauce and chili. They weren’t bad, just .. tasteless.

Oh yeah, service is very slow here too, I guess it’s just the laid back island life.

Though this is a Chinese restaurant, they are pork free. In fact, the whole Salang Bay is pork free.

food court, on the left once you get off the jetty at Salang Bay
food court, on the left once you get off the jetty at Salang Bay

Just to the right of the jetty is a food court that usually has at least a couple shops open for business. We caught the national double’s pair playing on TV while enjoying some fried rice from the last stall to the right.

It was a meal that was forgettable, but the operators were very friendly, and we spent another half an hour chatting with them and a local dive master. It turned out to be a decent experience.

Haze & KY
Haze & KY at Salang Beach, Tioman 2012

These are just the place we ate, I was told that you get very good ikan bakar to the left of jetty at night, and there were many drinking place serving cold beer at RM 5 a can and other alcoholic drinks at RM 10-12 per glass.

Even though food wasn’t exactly anywhere near good, they were edible and priced pretty decent for a holiday destination. I wanna go back to Tioman!

Earlier last month we did a small road trip to the South. Our ultimate destination was the concert of Snow Patrol at Singapore, but since that falls on a Monday night, we took the opportunity to stop by Tioman island for a couple nights over the weekends.

we dived in these four sites around Tioman island
we dived in these four sites around Tioman island

In Malaysia, I’ve dived at Tenggol, Redang, Lang Tengah, Aur, Sembilan, and Sipadan, so I thought it’ll be nice to tick Tioman off the list too.

Like Pulau Aur/Dayang, the ferry to Tioman island leaves at Mersing. The ferry stops at 5 different jetties – Genting, Paya, Tekek, ABC (Air Batang), and Salang Bay.

eat, dive, and rock along the beach, what a life
eat, dive, and rock along the beach, what a life

Ferry fare is at RM 35 each way per person, and you need to know where you are supposed to get off. We chose Salang Bay because it’s one of the more diver friendly destinations located at northern side of the island.

The ferry ride took about an hour or so to get to the island, but since Salang Bay is the 5th and final stop, the total time spent on boat was closer to 2 hours. One word of advice: it can get very cold in the ferry, bring a jacket!

(annoyingly, Salang Bay is the first stop on the way back to Mersing, so it’s another 2 hour again…)

this is the boat we dived from, not the most glamourous but it works
this is the boat we dived from, not the most glamourous but it works

Diving at most other islands in Malaysia is usually a packaged affair. You pay a single fee and accommodation, boat transfer, x number of dives, and food are all included.

At Tioman though, it is more like an ala carte menu. Ferry fare is paid separately, you get to choose a dive operator, stay at any chalet/resorts of your choice, and eat at any restaurants/food stalls on the island.

The advantage of this is that it caters to different budgets, and if you’re interested in just chilling at the beach and doing a bit of snorkeling, a 3 day 2 night stay can be had for less than 3-400 bucks. The disadvantages though, is that you need a bit of planning, and don’t get the “pay once and forget about everything” deal like you do at other islands.

yep, that's a useful thread mill
yep, that’s a useful thread mill

After a bit of scouting around online, we decided to go with B&J Diving Center. They are one of the bigger dive operators at both Salang Bay and ABC Beach that will also help book resorts and secure ferry tickets, which makes our job a bit easier.

We did 4 boat dives with them, which comes up to RM 430, and since we were using our own equipment, we got a 20% discount that brought the price to RM 344. The more dives you do, the cheaper it gets. Price list is available on their website.

and a muray eel decided to swim across that blue spotted sting ray
and a muray eel decided to swim across that blue spotted sting ray

As for accommodation, we stayed at Salang Indah Resort (RM 120/weekday – RM 135/weekend). The bed is clean, there’s hot water, but that’s all you can say about the chalet. They didn’t maintain it very well, and I think we will look into other resorts on subsequent visits even though this one is quite close to the dive center.

There are almost 10 resorts at Salang Bay (list of resorts) and prices starts at something like RM 50 for two person if you can live with cold water and no air conditioning.

hawksbill turtle has had enough with divers
hawksbill turtle has had enough with divers

At Salang Bay, or at least with B & J, dive boat departs at the jetty, which is about a good 100 meter walk from the dive center. They do have a cart and your friendly dive masters will load up the equipment and send it over to the boat. However, it does take quite a bit longer to get from dive center to being underwater.

cuttlefish kept saying "you can't see me, you can't see me"
cuttlefish kept saying “you can’t see me, you can’t see me”

Diving at Tioman is best from March till about late June/July where the water is clearest. We did it early August, and on top of that it was full moon – high tide. Hence visibility was pretty terrible. We didn’t manage to see more than 5-10 meters on our dives.

fat garoupa fish decided to sit on top of a coral
fat garoupa fish decided to sit on top of a coral

Our dive sites were Reggis Island, Sayok, Tiger Reef, and Labas, and despite the poor visibility, we did manage to see quite a bit. These are some pretty nice dive sites.

There were plenty of clown fish – we spotted False Percula Clownfish, Tomato Clownfish, and Bright Pink Skunk Clownfish vigorously defending their patch of anemone whenever my camera went close for a Kodak moment.

again, there were plenty of nemo, here's three types of them
again, there were plenty of nemo, here’s three types of them

We also spotted a couple hawksbill turtles, a rather stealthy cuttlefish, garoupa fish, blue spotted stingrays, moray eels, bat fish, angel fish, and barracuda, and a pretty good size reef shark among other reef fish. Would have been able to get better photos if visibility wasn’t so bad.

we had a great time at tioman, I'm sure we'll revisit sometimes
we had a great time at tioman, I’m sure we’ll revisit sometimes

As for B & J, they are pretty decent. We had two different dive masters on our dives and they were pretty professional and attentive to details. The pre-dive briefings were comprehensive, and each DM didn’t have to take care of more than 4-5 divers. Our experience with them was a positive one, and it’s very likely that we dive with them next time around.

I’ll talk about food at Salang Bay some other time. Need another holiday!