If you’ve been itching for a short getaway on one of the next long weekends, good news: we’ve found a slice of paradise just across the border of Singapore.
Rawa Island Resort is the larger of two resorts on Rawa Island in the Mersing District of Johor Bahru. While I did say it was across the border, getting there will take a little more time than expected.
We took a three-hour coach from Singapore to Mersing Harbour Centre at 6.30am in the morning to avoid the queues at the customs and the notorious traffic jam.
Upon arrival, we swiftly checked-in and arranged for the next speedboat ride to the island.
We could either hop on the earlier speedboat or wait for the next one at 12pm, and going for the latter was a better choice as it gave us some time to go across the road to get essentials and a SIM card (thankfully, because the rooms on the island have no WiFi).
But if you want to take a break from technology then skip this altogether and get on the next available speedboat!
It wasn’t long before we made our way to the boardwalk just behind the reception and marketing office, where the speedboat was waiting for us.
Tip: Sit at the front, or at least within the sheltered portion of the speedboat if you don’t want to get drenched in salty water before hitting the beach.
I didn’t mind the little splatters and the sun though; bring on the getaway!
Hello, Rawa Island
The 30-minute boat ride was smooth on our way there, but I can’t say the same for our ride back. So, pop some anti-nausea tablets if you don’t want to start Merlion-ing.
Right from where we alighted, we saw a huge slide that takes you straight into the sea and that’s when we knew kiddo (or the kid at heart) is going to have lots of fun here too.
The Hillside Deluxe
We were checked into the Hillside Deluxe on our second day. Backstory: the Crown Prince of JB had decided to take a holiday on the island too, so we were put up in a dormitory for the first night.
The room was spacious with a homely cottage feel, and it even comes with a balcony if you choose the one double & one single package.
The space on the balcony offered a relaxing alternative to catch up on some reading when we were taking a break from the sun and the beach.
Oh, and drying our bathing suits and wet clothes was effortless with the washing line and clothes peg provided — yays to living the #beachlyfe!
There are other room options on the island to choose from too, from the Beachfront Chalet to the Waterfront Bungalow and Frangipani Villa, which will accommodate a staycay with friends or a family getaway.
We frequented the Sea Sports Centre during our 4D3N stay; here’s where you can pick out an activity to try for each day. For the adventure-seekers, you can even learn diving with the friendly instructors from Orca Scuba.
We stuck to easier activities, such as stand-up paddling and kayaking. If you sail out far enough, you’ll get to see the coral and fishes from above the water.
Do note, however, that the rates of each activity vary, and are not inclusive of the Rawa Island Resort room packages.
To save those pennies, get on the slide — mainly predominated by kids — and woosh down as many times as you like. It’s free, anyway! Nobody’s gonna judge.
Hilltop Jungle Trekking
The Hilltop Jungle Trekking starts from behind the Hilltop Deluxe rooms – just follow the sign and the steps leading up to it, and you’ll be met with this lookout, perfect for a quick shot for the ‘gram.
With a little grit of our teeth and 20 minutes later, we reached the “peak” of the trail, where you’ll have a picturesque view of the South China Sea and the nearby islands.
I won’t glam it up and say the trek was a walk in the park; you’ll need at least a pair of hardy sandals to help give you the grip to climb up and down the rocky terrain.
Daily Meals & Saturday BBQ Night
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the room packages. The open air cafe area is set up with a buffet line that features Asian, Malay and Western dishes.
Apart from coffee, tea, milk and juices served at the buffet line, other drinks and snacks are chargeable upon order.
The food here never failed to impress us, with bold flavours of curry, rendang and roasted meat. We couldn’t help but to pile our plates… responsibly, without wasting any food, I assure you. The sambal belacan was to-die-for, btw.
We all agreed that the egg station in the morning was our favourite part of breakfast. Request for the eggs to be cooked in any style and it’ll be cooked a la minute. Fried, poached, half-boiled, omelette — you name it, you’ll get it.
But the best has got to be the BBQ night that takes place every Saturday. The pavilion is set up with BBQ pits, lined with rows of satay, marinated beef and lamb steaks.
The aroma wafted through the air, making us salivate even from afar. This night is a tad bit special as compared to the other dinner buffets, with the line boasting a greater variety of dishes and desserts.
And if you need a tipple for a midday pick-me-up, or to end off the night, there are two bars on the island to chill with a glass in hand.
The best takeaway from this trip to Rawa Island was the white sandy shore and emerald waters that made us embrace the beach bums that we are — we could stay on the beach and in the water for an entire afternoon and not get sick of it.
While the sunsets in Bali are way more dramatic, the ones at Rawa Island Resort are made for reflecting on life and perhaps a little dreaming too.
Goodbye for now, Rawa Island Resort. I’ll be back again since it isn’t far away from home, and returning guests will get to enjoy special rates and promotions too.
If your ideal weekend getaway is made up of crystal clear waters and lazing on the beach while getting a new tan, this will tick all the boxes.
Expected damage: From RM1,760 (2 nights), approx. S$595.58