It was a homecoming after many years…
Desaru – a popular seaside destination on the East Coast of the state of Johor, Malaysia; located very close to Singapore, is a favourite short weekend getaway destination for Singaporeans young and old.
We booked a 2D1N package after checking out the Desaru Fruit Farm website. We got there one day earlier as we had booked an extra night’s stay at Tunamaya Beach and Spa Resort to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of busy Singapore.
With additional time, this allowed us to re-explore and revisit this destination Desaru Malaysia again after so many years. The latest development is the Water Adventure Park and some new hotels and resorts at DESARU COAST such as Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and The Westin Desaru Coast Resort.
What to do in Desaru
1. Water Fun: Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark
Our guide-aka-driver brought us to the waterpark to take lunch at a small food court as it was too early to check into our resort. We took the opportunity to walk to nearby Hard Rock Hotel (soft opening) to take a look after hearing so much about it. The Water Park was located right next to it.
Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark is one of the World’s largest waterparks.
It is known to have one of the biggest wave pools in the world and a First-of-its-Kind Water Roller Coaster in the region. Located within the premium integrated destination resort of Desaru Coast in Johore, the new waterpark offers a mix of wet & dry rides and slides for its visitors who come from all around Asia and the world. Pity our kids were not around if not they would have loved it!
The next day we started our tour led by our guide aka driver Bob. First, we visited the Crocodile World (not the Ostrich Farm this time which we had been before). It is basically a real legit crocodile farm which keeps and breed crocodiles for their many uses such as their skin for various products (such as bags and accessories) and their meat for health consumption.
Following that, we had a sumptuous lunch at the Desaru Fruit Farm which included, of course, its signature fruit galore – the fruit buffet has the usual staples of papayas, pineapples etc plus favourites like mangoes, jambu, passionfruits. We had just missed the Durian season which was around July to August period – a popular season, especially so for Malaysians and Singaporeans, to visit the Desaru Fruit Farm because of its famed durian buffet which includes seasonal fruits such as mangosteens and rambutans.
Why one should visit Desaru Fruit Farm – Tropical Fruits Galore
After lunch, we climbed up a specially designed pick-up truck to bring us nearer to the 180-acres large organic fruit farm. The friendly and knowledgeable Malaysian guide then gave us an educational commentary of the various fruit trees we could see as we walked along the trails.
Durian fans anyone? Some places in Desaru even offer Fruit and Durian Buffets
Desaru Fruit Farm is truly unique as it also grows a huge variety of rare plants and tropical fruit trees. During our walk, we also spotted a unique banana tree different from the rest, as its flower was pointed upwards instead of the usual downwards as seen from the other banana trees.
If you come and visit Desaru in the right durian season here in Malaysia, you get to enjoy this exotic lavish tropical fruit that you either love, or hate.
Lastly, we were brought to the mini animal farm; if there were any children in the group, they would be the ones most excited at the sight of rabbits, goats, etc. You could buy some carrots to feed them and pet them if lucky. On top of that, there is also a fish pond to feed fishes, namely the colourful koi fish.
Keen on doing a farm stay at Desaru Fruit Farm?
If you are into farm stays, this is also available here but you need to do more prior research before that.
Tom Sawyer Adventure – Book a Firefly Tour Package
The last but most anticipated programme for the day was the Firefly Tour/ Cruise.
To get to the venue, we were driven through a long narrow road fringed on both sides by oil palm plantations. The area looked rather secluded and cut off from the rest of the world.
On arrival, we were led into a riverboat anchored at Sungei Lebam which also acts as a dining venue. We chose a table overlooking the tranquil greenish colour river. At dinner time, we were served a yummy seafood spread with a good variety of dishes from soup, vegetables, meat and carbs. There was even a speciality dish black pepper crab to be tackled with our bare hands (not recommended to bite with your teeth!)
Delicious Local Meals and Seafood Provided
We took a long enjoyable time savouring our dinner, occasionally looking up to behold the mangrove-lined river view as the sky darkened gradually.
Where to see fireflies – The Moon Light Night in a riverboat
When night fell, we were ushered into another riverboat – a double-deck ferry reminiscent of Tom Sawyer’s Riverboat adventure. (In our previous firefly viewing trip years ago, it would have been a queue of tourists batch by batch donning safety jackets before climbing onto small boats. It was a bit riskier if you were a bit clumsier and fear falling into the river)
As the boat cruised alongside Sungei Lebam’s mangrove, we were awed by spectacular twinkling lights displayed by our nature’s own fireflies! It was a moonlit night and a lady alongside us in the cruise recalled the popular song ‘Moonlight Bay’ sung and recorded by various famous singers. The moonlight cast a reflective light on the leaves of the mangrove. It made the mangrove swamp come alive with shimmering lights intermixed with the fireflies luminescent ‘lanterns’.
After the boat guide caught one firefly and showed us at close range how it looked like ( without hurting it). Some of us tried to catch the fireflies as well when they flew very close but ended up in futile ( requires great skill!)
Sungei Lebam Fireflies Cruise – Highlight of the Trip
I have experienced many boat rides in southeast asia like in Brunei and Koh Mak in Thailand, but to take a boat to see fireflies? Not yet!
Having experienced this, I would say this Firefly viewing venue at SUNGEI LEBAM was my highlight of the day, especially for these following reasons:
- the Tom Sawyer’s adventure mood and ambiance on a riverboat,
- the pretty view of the river and its vegetation as we dined riverside on the riverboat deck.
- the good weather and the moonlight added to the unique feel of the night out atmosphere
Some other interesting places in the Desaru area waiting to be discovered
Mangrove Day Cruise
Even as we chatted with fellow travellers on the cruise, we found out from them, as they shared their day’s adventure, that there were some more places in the Desaru area waiting for me to be discovered and experienced eg Tanjong Balau, the mangrove day cruise. The best boat cruises I had were in Luang Prabang in Laos and Chiang Khan in Thailand, but this one would have to wait till the next opportunity!
ATV Quad Bike Ride Experience
The last I tried quad biking was in Bicol in the Philippines. However, while that was an ATV experience up a volcano, this ATV ride will bring you through the fruit farm up close to a lot of these incredible fruit trees, bushes and shrubs. Be careful not to go too fast as you will damage some of the plantations, or even risk a durian falling on your head in the process, which wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
Ostriches are powerful and strong creatures, though they do make you want to laugh with the peculiar little faces on a long neck. If you have never got the chance to be up close to ostriches which most zoos or national parks do not allow, this ostrich farm in Desaru Fruit Farm gives you that opportunity to come up close, feed them and spam some good photos, and if you are lucky, a selfie with an ostrich. I would love to be able to see a baby ostrich someday though!
I was just in Brunei recently and spotted some wild crocodiles in the river during the boat cruise. If being in the same river as a crocodile is not your kind of fun, then perhaps a crocodile farm will be a tame and more controlled environment to see them. Look at the size difference between the big crocs and the small one.
Paintball Group Activites
Who here loves paintball? I have never tried it before, believe it or not, but I heard it is loads of fun and can get a little painful too! But if you want a great group bonding and team building activity with friends, colleagues or business partners, why not try paintball here in Desaru. Its gonna be super fun and a great workout, which can be rewarded with a fruit or seafood feast after that.
Before going on your next travel adventure, consider booking Affordable Travel Insurance from US$14 onwards for that peace of mind! 🙂
Some Extra Tips and Recommendations:
How-Tos: Get to Desaru ( Transport Mode/ Timing/ Where to buy)
The fastest and convenient way (though not very frequent timings) is by ferry from Singapore’s Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjong Belungkor Terminal, Johore, which is about 15 mins’ driving to Desaru. It is better to pre-arrange with the hotel for pick up service on arrival as it may be difficult to get transport to the hotel.
There is now a coach service from Singapore to Desaru Coast at $17.50 offered by WTS Travel.
List of Hotels to stay at:
HOW TO GET THERE
By Ferry to Desaru Fruit Farm
From Singapore’s Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjong Belungkor Terminal, Johore in Malaysia. See Ferry Schedule below:
Entry Fee to Desaru Fruit Farm :
Malaysian Ringgit 26.50 per adult, 21.20 per child for TOUR AND FRUIT PACKET
58.30 per adult, 50.90 per child for TOUR, LUNCH AND FRUIT FIESTA
For other packages, refer their website www.desaruff.com
Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark Tickets:
Soft Opening hours: 10am – 6pm Thursday to Sunday
Park closed from Monday to Wednesday
For more info, check out http://www.desarucoast.com
By Road to Desaru Fruit Farm
Daily coach from Singapore to Desaru Coast from SG$17.50 offered by WTS Travel
Hence concluding what you can experience here in Desaru.
Have you booked your firefly tour package yet?
– FAQ –
What can we do at Desaru?
The key higlights of what we can do at Desaru for a few days would be to visit a durian and fruit farm, followed by a firefly desaru cruise at Sungei Lebam with a lovely sunset seafood dinner.
How many hours drive from Singapore to Desaru?
If you are a Singaporean wondering how many hours drive from Singapore to Desaru, it is approximately 1 and a half hours or 2 hours. You will definitely cut through the Singapore Woodlands checkpoint, bypass Kota Tinggi on the way to Desaru.
Don’t forget to get some travel insurance too if you haven’t got to it!