Pulau Besar is an island located along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, just off Mersing. The name, Pulau Besar (formerly known as Pulau Babi Besar) is strange to many despite its idyllic beaches and stunning natural beauty. The island, which is surrounded by Pulau Rawa, Pulau Sibu & Pulau Tinggi, is characterized by quiet, clean beaches of powdery white sand that promises an amazingly spectacular view. Pulau Besar is fringed by crystal-clear azure waters that people can actually catch sight of the abundant reefs. To preserve the unspoiled marine life, the Government has gazetted it as a marine park to protect around 60 species of marine life from any activities that can harm their natural habitats within 2 nautical miles around the island.
Pulau Besar rises some 2,000 feet above the sea level. It is one of the largest islands off the coast of Mersing. It is also surrounded by 15 scattered islands. It has several long stretches of fine beaches with fine, soft white sand that fringe the island which is carefully hidden from the outside world. A place irresistable to those who seek tranquility amidst the charm of a village setting. The island houses many exotic coral reefs and underwater flora as well as numerous chalets and restaurants.
This island got its former name, Pulau Babi Besar, (directly translated as Big Boars Island) from the numerous wild boars that roamed the island before man inhabited the place. Surprisingly, there is not a single boar on the island at present and thus, the reason for the change of name to Pulau Besar.
Rich hues of wild vegetations are dappled throughout the island with the lush greens of the coconut palms and tropical jungles. There are about 7 – 8 small villages that are still populated by around 100 friendly dwellers that are mostly fishermen. There is a myth about a fisherman couple that transformed into mermaids. This legend is so popular among the local folks that they believed at one time, a pregnant fisherman’s wife was craving for a kind of seaweed that is plentiful in the Mersing waters. After eating, she turned into a mermaid and the heartbroken husband became one too after eating the same seaweed. Until today, it is claimed that mermaids floating as couples can sometimes be spotted eating seaweed around the island. During low tide, tourists can see nibbling marks on the island rocks that proves the existence of these mammals.
Pulau Besar is surrounded by vistas so beautiful that even a number of foreign TV stations have flocked to the island to savor the natural wonders and treasure them in films. In fact, a short time ago, a Hollywood film, Ocean Lifeguard, had chosen Pulau Besar as its main shooting location.
In the Mersing waters, there are at least 15 small and scattered islands and each is unique in its own way. Here, you can find many species of giant cockles that live on the ocean floor and 6 of them can only be found around Mersing waters. A number of the surrounding islands such as Pulau Aur, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Tinggi and Pulau Rawa have been identified as new habitats for the new generation of the giant cockles that have a lifespan of 70 years, 1-metre long shell and can weigh as much as 200 kilograms. Tourists will be able to set their eyes on these lovely shelled-creatures while snorkeling in the breathtakingly picturesque waters.
There are many resorts in Pulau Besar such as Perfect Life Resort, Hillside Chalet Island Resort, Sun Dancer Chalet, White Sand Beach Resort, Besar Island Chalet, D'Coconut Island Resort, Sun Dancer Island Resort, Aseania Resort (formerly known as Radin Resort & Safaries) and Nirwana Beach Resort. All these resorts offer many interesting facilities, attractions and activities for tourists and locals alike. The more popular resorts are D’Coconut Resort, Aseania Resort and Nirwana Resort.
D’Coconut Island Resort is a tropical paradise in one of the most picturesque islands along the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia. It is nestled amidst coconut trees, and overlooking the glistening waters of the ocean with white sandy beaches, dazzling coral reefs and prolific marine life. D'Coconut brings you the harmony and beauty of a kampung environment complete with modern amenities. D'Coconut Island Resort, originally a coconut plantation, consists of scattered 'rumah kampung' chalets, a restaurant serving western and local cuisine, a 100-person conference/banquet hall, a cineplex, a karaoke lounge, a swimming pool, a pool bar, conference facilities, satellite TV and a dive shop. Recreational Facilities include windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving ,canoeing, jet skiing, fishing trips to nearby islands, island hopping, jungle trekking , beach volleyball, mountain biking, beach gym, sailing and indoor games. The resort provides comfortable chalet rooms with air-conditioning, attached bathrooms equipped with hot and cold shower facilities, hot showers, colour TV and mini fridge. The resort has a total of 19 units of Deluxe Rooms, 43 units of Superior Rooms and 6 units of Family Rooms. The Family Room is based on the Quad Sharing Basis. Power supply is 24 hours.
Pulau Besar is surrounded by many beautiful islands. Visitors to D'Coconut Island Resort will be able to visit the nearby islands of Pulau Mensirip, Pulau Hujung, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Harimau, and even Pulau Tengah, where Expedition Robinson was filmed. Divers will be able to dive at Jahat Aut, Sakit Mata, Mata Tikus and Rawa.
Aseania Resort Pulau Besar (formerly known as Radin Resort & Safari), is a luxurious 50 chalets resort, preserved in the charm of a traditional Malay village and blending harmoniously with the exotic tranquility of Besar Island.
Activities at Aseania Resort include island hopping (upon request), fishing, snorkeling, diving, beach volleyball, board games and jungle trekking. Facilities include a restaurant, swimming pool, TV lounge with 24 hours Astro satellite TV, function room which can accommodate 30 persons (theatre style) and private BBQ parties which can be arranged on request. Rooms are air-conditioned chalets, fully carpeted, with attached bathrooms with hot showers, mini fridge and coffee & tea are provided too.
Nirwana Beach Resort, nestled in the breezy beach of Pulau Besar, offers different styled chalets with a tropical atmosphere. It has all the facilities of a resort such as a small conference room, a sports centre and a souvenir shop.
There are many interesting activities at Nirwana Beach Resort. One can go snorkeling, fishing, diving or take a trip to the nearby islands. Visitors can trek through the woods to see the tropical plants and animals or visit a 'kelong' to see the fishermen hauling up their nets laden with the bountiful harvest from the sea. The resort offer visitors accommodation facilities ranging from traditional Malay village chalets to A-frame huts. The Restaurant serves a variety of local, Asian and Western delicacies.
Tourists can go to Pulau Besar by taking a ferry from Mersing Jetty Terminal. Boat Services are available to and from Pulau Besar and Mersing . The boat ride from Mersing to Pulau Besar takes about an hour , but if you are in a hurry, you can take a fast boat which only takes 30 minutes. Boats can be chartered from 8.30am to 8pm at the jetty, depending on tide conditions.
Mersing is a pleasant fishing town known also as the gateway to the nearby islands. There are many shops for you to stock up on your supplies before setting off for the islands.
Mersing also offers numerous restaurants, resorts and inexpensive hotels to put up for the night before catching your boat if you arrive after 6.00pm as most boats travel during daylight hours only. Take time to pick your transport as there are many boat operators offering different rates.
Mersing is located 399km from Kuala Lumpur, 190km from Kuantan and 134km from Johor Bahru. From Singapore, you can take a air-conditioned coach. The Journey takes 3 hours to Mersing Jetty. The Coach leaves the Golden Mile Complex in Singapore at 6.30 am. If you are traveling by car, you can drive along the Kota Tinggi trunk road to Mersing. The Journey takes approximately 2½ hours. Alternatively, you can drive along the North-South Highway and exit at Air Hitam interchange. After the toll booth, turn right and proceed to Kluang town. Follow the sign boards to Mersing. The Journey takes 4½ hours. If you are staying in Kuala Lumpur, you can take a connecting flight to Senai Airport, Johor and continue the journey by taxi to Mersing Jetty. The Journey takes 2 hours. Taxi and bus services are also available to and from Kuala Lumpur.
Pulau Besar is truly an interesting tourist attraction to visit with your family or friends or simply just yourself. All the while, tourists have only been accustomed to the popularity of Pulau Tioman in Pahang and Pulau Pemanggil in Johor, which are actually situated within the same area. So why not check out Pulau Besar and see for yourself how beautiful this island is.