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Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sunset at Gem Island, Malaysia

Daydreaming in your private paradise at the only resort and spa on Gem Island or Pulau Gemia, a kayak trip away from Kapas island on the east coast of Malaysia.

Gem Island is still undiscovered and therefore a lot quieter than the other islands on the east coast like the Perhentian Island and Tioman. It lies just 15 minutes (5 km) offshore the jetty of Marang and you can reach it just by paddling in a canoe from Kapas Island.

The fun of this island lies in the fact that you can have the private beach all to yourself. This is because the island is overlooked when tourists pass them by traveling to the more touristy Islands of Redang, Perhentian and between these 2: Lang Tengah. Pulau Gemia is the ideal hideout for the local Malaysian during the weekend. Needless to say that when you visit the island during working weekdays, you could end up being the only visitor.

Things to do on the island are relaxing on the beach, reading a book in the swinging rattan chair of your balcony, walking around the 8 acres of rocky island, discovering white sandy private beach coves, having a swim, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, birdwatching on the jetty, jigging squid ('candat sotong'), helping out in the turtle conservation sanctuary or trying to spot a turtle.

Turtle pool and sanctuary at gem island

You can also take a kayak to visit neighboring island Kapas. It's very safe to kayak in the 800m stretch between the 2 islands and especially in the morning you could to spot black-tip sharks around you. Kapas is a typical backpackers island, so a bit more busy than Pulau Gemia. Both islands are breeding grounds for turtles and part of the work of the staff of the Gem Island Resort (the only resort on the island) is seeking out turtle nests. The eggs will be transferred from the secluded beaches to the turtle sanctuary of the Gem Island Resort where they will be incubated and released in a special hatchling pool before returning them back to the sea.

Gem island resort: attached villas on stilts

The island is privately owned and like we mentioned only has 1 resort. Unfortunately for the scenery, the about 50 villa's are typical Malaysian concrete villa's built on stilts, kind of spoiling the exotic, pristine island beach scenery. The advantage of this is that you get luxury compared to the backpackers accommodations in nearby Kapas: nothing compares to the outdoor jacuzzi:

Outdoor jacuzzi with view on the sea surrounding gem island

You can opt for the wooden detached Premier Hideaway Villas, completely secluded in the greenery:

Detached wooden villas from the gem island resort and spa

At the north side of the beach you can relax and enjoy a rejuvenating spa:

Having a rejuvenating massage at the gem island resort and spa

To reach Gem Island, you normally take a domestic flight with MAS (Malaysian Airlines) or AirAsia to Kuala Terengganu. There a taxi can be arranged to take you on an about 1 hour drive to the jetty of Marang.

Gem island map with redang en perhentian islands in Terangganu, Malaysia

There you can choose to embark daily on 1 of the 4 boats that depart from 9am onwards, every 2 hours. Do note that on Friday, the afternoon boats are cancelled due to Friday Muslim prayers.