Desaru, Malaysia


Desaru is a 22km stretch of beach facing South China Sea. It is located on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, in the state of Johor.

There is little in terms of history for Desaru which was probably once occupied by kampungs which has since made way for beach resorts and the Air Tawar oil palm plantations under the FELDA scheme.

It is a popular weekend destination for Singaporeans due to its proximity. Several established resorts such as Pulai Springs and Lotus Desaru make their home here.

Sights & Activities

Book yourself in one of the two main beach resorts: At Pulai Springs, standard rooms with breakfast cost about SGD110 – SGD120 per night. Pulai Springs is a family friendly resort with range of activities to entice children of all ages. The concierge will also advise you on activities that you can take part in. At Lotus Desaru, a one bedroom two-storey room cost about RM300 per night including breakfast. The hotel has a mini water park that is a blast with children of all ages.

Enjoy a soak in the South China Sea: The beach is located within 5 minutes walk from the room. The beach is surprisingly clean and the emerald green waters are clear. Build sandcastles or splash about in the waters but do take note of the strong undercurrent and the beach gradient can be quite steep.

Enjoy seafood galore in Sungei Rengit: Head out 35km south of Desaru to Sungei Rengit. Tucked away from the main roads are three seafood restaurants – Sin Kong, You Kee and Jade Crystal, which are located side by side. Pick anyone of them and treat yourself to a delicious meal at reasonable prices.

Take a bite of fresh tropical fruits from the Desaru Fruit Farm: You can go on a guided tour on the farm for RM20 (adults) which will introduce you to some of the interesting tropical fruits and plants. Alternatively just drop by the supermarket to buy some tasty fresh fruits or cool down with a bottle of juice.

Be mesmerised by the twinkly lights of the fireflies: For RM40 per adult (or RM20 if you drive there yourself), immerse yourself in total darkness aboard a rickety boat on the Johor River. See thousands of fireflies that call the mangroves home flitting about. Don’t forget to gaze up to the wide expanse and the real stars of the night.

Head to Kota Tinggi and its famed ‘waterfall’ : Kota Tinggi used to be one of the river capitals (1685–99) of the Johore-Riau kingdom. The modern town is now an administrative centre and petroleum depot for an area of plantation and is about 50km away from Desaru.

Further north, following the road sign for Air Tejun, you will come upon the once popular tourist destination – Kota Tinggi Waterfalls. However due to a series of drought and land development, it is nothing more than a muddy stream now. (Tell me if I am wrong.)


From Johor Bahru, get on Jalan Tebrau and follow the road signs in the direction of Kota Tinggi. Desaru is about an hour’s drive on single lane roads passing oil palm plantations.

Alternatively you can also hop on a 45 minute ferry leaving from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The resort you are staying in will pick you up from Tanjung Belungkor.

Do note that taxis do not serve this area so you either bring your own transport or be confined to the various tours organised by the resorts.

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