Dreaming of an idyllic tropical island paradise stay but without paying five-star prices? Then Bayu Lestari Island Resort makes this dream come true with accommodation ranging from honeymoon villas, to luxury beach-front family chalets and suites, to backpacker dormitories. Regardless of your budget and accommodation choice, everyone gets to enjoy all the same facilities of this luxury beach-front resort, as well as the pristine, white sand beach-front location with the best stretch of beach on the island and unmatched snorkelling reef just a step off-shore. From family groups to honeymoon couples to corporate retreats and backpackers - everyone can afford a few days of get-away to this island made famous from the European Expedition Robinson Survivor reality TV show.
This hidden gem is tucked amidst sheltered coral reefs at the base of a protecting mountain covered in virgin rainforest, fringed by a coast of white sand and coconut palms. Set within the protected Sultan Iskandar Marine Park, you will discover a South China Sea ocean sanctuary with easy snorkelling coral reefs just a jump off the resort’s private jetty with abundant sea life and regular turtles that come to shelter and feed.
This island is known by several variations of its full name - Pulau Babi Besar, which literally translates to Big Boar Island; said to have been coined because long ago wild boars roamed the island, but today there are no boars remaining, so most often now the island is more commonly referred to as just Pulau Besar.
Only around four hours from both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Pulau Besar is an easy, 30 minute boat-ride away from the main pier at Mersing town, and the closest of all the islands in this cluster. While most tourists travel further afield to the more touristy and popular island of Tioman, Pulau Besar remains a best-kept secret for those seeking the picturesque island experience seen in brochures, without the crowds, shopping and haggling; and at only a fraction of the price.
Bayu Lestari Island Resort on Pulau Besar is family-owned and managed by Ibu (mother) Rose and her five children, with other local staff from the island and neighbouring villages offering you a distinctively Malaysian home-stay island experience with 24/7 service. This team helps foster the youthful vibe you feel immediately as the boat arrives and the staff walk out to greet you at the pier, escorting you to the beach lobby for your complimentary welcome drink before introducing you to the resort and showing you to your rooms.
The family-friendly resort is committed to ecologically-sustainable practices to minimise its carbon footprint within the Marine Park. The owners and staff pride themselves on their eco-credentials, offering free purified drinking water refills on-tap (no bottled water sold), reusable metal drinking straws, growing most of their own fruits, vegetables and chickens within the resort’s back village, with sensitive wooden architectural designs and landscaping to blend harmoniously with the natural island environment. Villa and dorm interiors and facilities are contemporary, ranging from elegant eco-luxury, to kampung (village)-style dorms, while remaining respectful of the unique island environment. This a mostly a walking resort and island, but free bikes are available for those wishing to explore faster and further.
Things to see and Do
Wondering if there is as much to do here on Pulau Besar as the larger islands? There is much to do here for the adventurous, or little to do here for those seeking an exotic escape. Part of Pulau Besar’s appeal is that you can spend your days lying on the beach, diving off our jetty, snorkelling our reefs, wandering the island paths, or hugging the coast to explore hidden beaches. There are no long lines or crowds here, and you will never have to jostle for private space or queue for that strategic Instagram sunset shot.
Our resort offers free hammocks, deck chairs and umbrellas at the beach for all day use. We also have available free volleyball, kayaking, ocean swimming, bicycles, snorkelling (equipment provided), and even games, pool table, reading library and Netflix in our club lounge.
For an additional fee we can help arrange guided jungle-trekking for about 5-6 hours, island hopping adventure, and guided snorkelling tours to some of the best reefs in our island neighbourhood.
The resort restaurant provides delicious meals and drinks throughout the day starting with your complimentary breakfast, all the way to dinner and dessert with local cuisine choices as well as Western selections. The best part is that our menu prices are around the same as you pay on the mainland, so you are not captured paying resort food prices.
Getting there and Away!
Bayu Lestari Resort is just 15km offshore on the south-east coast of Malaysia, and accessible in just 30 minutes by boat from Mersing Jetty, Johor. Set within the archipelago of the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park, Bayu Lestari Resort is conveniently located between both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, making it a great short-escape location for both countries.
Our boat leaves daily from Mersing Jetty in the morning, and returns in the afternoon for the cost of RM45 per person. The journey itself is a comfortable 30 minutes with our island being one of the closest to the mainland, and therefore closest boat distance.
Will will advise you of current boat schedule when you book, and we will inform you of exact times on the day, which may vary according to weather conditions and tides.
At the jetty, you may be required to pay a marine park conservation fee before departure. The cost is RM25 for non-Malaysians and RM10 for Malaysians.
Nearest airport is at Senai, in Johor Baru, with regular transport from there to Mersing Jetty.
Regular, comfortable and cheap busses run to Mersing Jetty from around Malaysia and Singapore. An easy Google search will give you several great options.
By Car from Singapore
Car – From Singapore Changi Airport to Mersing Jetty via Woodlands Causeway is around a 3-hour drive (allow for waiting time at the border). There are also regular busses, and charter van services to get you there.
By Car From Malaysia
Car – From KL Twin Towers to Mersing Jetty is around a 4.5 hour drive. Take North-South Highway, head south towards Johor. Use your Wayz or Google maps for specific driving instructions.