Malaysia Travelogues

Desaru Revisited – A Tom Sawyer Firefly Riverboat Adventure Cruise

 


 

It was a homecoming after many years…

Desaru – a popular seaside destination on the East Coast of the state of Johore, Malaysia; located very close to Singapore, is a favourite weekend getaway 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.

  Tunamaya Beach and Spa Resort - All rooms face the sea.

Tunamaya Beach and Spa Resort – All rooms face the sea.

With additional time, this allowed us to re-explore Desaru 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.

View of the newly opened Adventure Water Park from Hard Rock Hotel

View of the newly opened Adventure Water Park from Hard Rock Hotel

 

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 – Fruits Galore 

After lunch, we climbed up a specially designed pick-up truck to bring us nearer to the 180-acres organic fruit farm. The guide then gave an educational commentary of the various fruit trees we could see as we walked along the trails.

Desaru Fruit Farm Galore | Desaru Coast Revisited

Desaru Fruit Farm Galore | Desaru Coast Revisited

 

Desaru Fruit Farm is truly unique as it also grows rare plants or fruit trees such as the banana tree that is toxic.

Tasty Meals at Desaru | Desaru Malaysia Revisited

Tasty Meals at Desaru | Desaru Malaysia Revisited

 

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. On top of that, there is also a fish pond to feed fishes, namely the colourful koi fish.

Mini Animal and Pets Farm | Deasru Day Excursions and Tours

Mini Animal and Pets Farm | Deasru Day Excursions and Tours

Tom Sawyer Adventure – Onboard Firefly Riverboat

Tom Sawyer Adventure - Onboard Firefly Riverboat

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.

The last but most anticipated programme for the day was the Firefly Cruise.
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!)
Yummy seafood spread with a good variety of dishes from soup, vegetables, meat and carbs

Yummy seafood spread with a good variety of dishes from soup, vegetables, meat and carbs

We took a long enjoyable time savouring our dinner, occasionally looking up to behold the mangrove-lined river view as the sky darkened gradually.

Tom Sawyer Adventure - Onboard Firefly Riverboat

Tom Sawyer Adventure – Onboard Firefly Riverboat

Where to see fireflies – The Moon Light Night

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)

boat cruised alongside Sungei Lebam's mangrove, we were awed by spectacular twinkling lights displayed by our nature's own fireflies

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’.
the boat guide caught one firefly and showed us at close range how it looked like ( without hurting it).

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

Firefly viewing venue at SUNGEI LEBAM

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 ambience 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 more interesting places in the Desaru area waiting to be discovered

Firefly viewing venue at SUNGEI LEBAM

Firefly viewing venue at SUNGEI LEBAM

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. But these would have to wait till the next opportunity!

Some extra tips:

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.

HOW TO GET THERE

By Ferry

From Singapore’s Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjong Belungkor Terminal, Johore in Malaysia.  See Ferry Schedule below:

By Road

Daily coach from Singapore to Desaru Coast from SG$17.50 offered by WTS Travel

Entry Fee to Desaru Fruit Farm :
For example;
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

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply