July 28, 2017 : we arrive on Tioman island, the last stop of our travel in Malaysia. Located in the south-east of the Malaysian coast this island is famous for its colourful undersea life. But I prefer to warn you : snorkeling in Tioman is complicated or even impossible for a person with reduced mobility. Indeed nothing is designed for wheelchair users. In order for people who need those information to clearly understand what it is really like to travel with a motor disability there, I will start to describe accessibility in Tioman first. But don’t worry, beautiful golden sand beaches photos and coconut trees are just next! And on the top of that I take you with me underwater to admire fishes and corals in a video!
Accessibility in Tioman
- Boat crossings to reach the island : The ferry terminal is easy to go around with a wheelchair but everything gets more difficult once on the wharf. There are steps to board the boat and a gap between the stairs and the boat. Afterwhat there is a last step to go over to enter in the boat. It is impossible to access the boat rolling on a wheelchair. Inside the boat things don’t get easier as the main path is narrow and filled with luggages. At the arrival in Tioman, in Tekek more precisely, the accessibility situation is exactly the same: stairs and gap. Once in the wharf there is no more problem. Pathways are wheelchair accessible so you can join the shuttles meeting point easily. Although I advice you to take the pathway going to the right when pathways splits as the one going straight is a bit steep.
- Hotels shuttles : Our shuttle, like all the others I saw, was a pick-up truck without arrangement made for wheelchair users. This type of car being so high, it was not easy to get in or out. In our pick-up truck, we were the only passengers so we were sitting on the back-seats but in others people were so many that some of them had to sit in the outside part.
- Hotels : During our stay we didn’t find any accessible hotel. I am waiting from information from Berjaya Tioman Resort and Minang Cove Resort as, according to hotels.com, they are supposed to be wheelchair accessibles.
- Moving on the island: Once further on the island I wasn’t able to use my wheelchair. As soon as I got out of the pick-up truck the ground was covered with sand. We were in a remote part of the island where you have to access the restaurants by the beach. Even if you reach them by road (going all around the beach) it will be difficult to avoid sand at the end.
- Snorkeling : If you want to snorkel in Tioman you will have to book a boat-trip that will take you to 4 or 5 different spots. At every spot you will have to “jump” into water from the boat and come back in it by climbing the boat ladder. Of course this prevents many disabled people to snorkel but unfortunately I didn’t find any solution. As for me, drop myself in the water is not a problem but when it comes to climb on a boat ladder from the water, it is quite an adventure! Franck, being completely immersed, has to help me put my feet on each rung while another person on the boat pull me out of the water. This was complicated and sometimes I ended up with bruises but, as you will see, if you can handle that it’s worth it!
Tioman, ocean wonders and heavenly quiet beach
After my first snorkeling experience in the Cook islands, I was looking forward to do it again. I was so eager to discover other corals and to swim surrounded by colourful fishes that going to Tioman island during our Malaysian trip was not an option! Once there I didn’t need to go underwater to be seduced. As soon as we arrived in our small bungalow I was filled with joy! I just had to go down from the porch to feel the sand on my feet and a few metres further away the warm sea was waiting for me. Plus, the beach itself is lovely and very quiet as we were in a remote part of the island. The perfect place to lie in the sun and rest after a snorkeling trip!
As for the snorkeling it was so cool! We had a lot of fun even if the waves were shaking us quite a lot, mainly on the boat. The underwater life in Tioman is amazing. They are so many fishes here that sometimes we were surrounded by them. They are many different species. We even saw a Napoleon fish. It was so big! I think about 1.5 metre! We also spotted clownfishs even if they are endangered. Indeed, following the success of “Finding Nemo”, a greater amount of them got captured to be sold… Let’s discover this wonderful world in video!
Did you see the surprise in the video? Yes we saw turtles! They were so big and close to us! That was such a perfect day to end our stay in Tioman! After 5 days there it was already time to leave. Not so easy! We were so happy here despite the inaccessibility of the place. It was so peaceful. But all good things must come to an end: after 5 weeks we finally reached the end of our Malaysian trip. Next step in our asian adventure: Singapore!
If you would like to have more information about travelling in this country you can read about all our travel destinations in Malaysia and their wheelchair accessibility and discover our travel budget and itinerary.
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