Slow and easy in Sibu Island

En route to Sibu Island on board the Pelican catamaran

WHAT better way to have a me-time than to head to a place with a charming ambience, lots of good food and personal pampering?  It gets even better if it comes with sun, sand and sea. 

I gladly leave my cares behind when I make a quick escape from Tanjung Leman jetty in Mersing, Johor, with less than half-hour’s air-conditioned ride on the Pelican to Pulau Sibu.

And now, here I am, stretched out on a deckchair in Sibu Island Resort, reading a juicy novel, with no mechanical devices to remind me of the time except the sun and my stomach.

Tame deer feeding on grassy patches

What a welcome!

At the resort jetty, I am welcomed by a series of strange squawking calls that pierce the pleasant symphony of swishing palms. I look around and trace its origin to a proud peacock perched on the roof of an animal pen filled with young goats and miniature ornamental chickens.

To study the layout map of the resort, I decline the buggy service and instead, I take an unhurried walk to my chalet. Following the signposts, I walk through a network of paved paths lined with flowery bushes that wind around wooden, kampung-style chalets built to blend in with the island’s undulating terrain.

I watch buzzing bees and black butterflies flitting around tiny red flowers but when I see a flock of deer, I freeze in my tracks. They are feeding but stop to look at me briefly before coolly continuing with their meal. They are so tame that they go on chewing, ignoring me as I snap their pictures!

On the grassy patches next to the stilts of the raised chalets are iridescent colours from the shimmering feathers of several peacocks.  I approach cautiously to admire their beautiful plumage and I am pleasantly surprised that they are equally curious and bold enough to venture close to my outstretched hand, probably hoping to receive some tasty tidbits.  As I explore further, I see how the resort is preserving an eco-friendly environment for everyone to enjoy the island’s idyllic beauty.

Khairuddin or K, showing off panoramic view from look-out point
Overland & Undersea

For a bit of island adventure, resort adventure ambassador Mohd Khairudin Samad leads me on a jungle trek across the island to Beach No 4. The tide is out as we inch our way over spiky rocks to reach a rocky outcrop and start the ascent to the lookout point.  Thank God for hand-holds - the thick ropes stretched from tree to tree — as the climb is quite steep.  However, the reward is a wonderful wind-swept vista of the azure sea dotted with islands as far as the eye can see.

Beach No 4 is preserved as a turtle sanctuary and I learn that in July this year, at least five leatherback turtles laid their eggs here. When the eggs hatched, the resort staff nurtured the baby turtles until they were ready to be released into the sea.  It’s not turtle season at the time of my visit but I keep my eyes peeled, hoping to spot some anyway. Instead I see a hermit crab scrambling on his merry way along this virtually untouched stretch of beach.

Back at the resort, recreation manager Mohd Shamsudin Mukhtar regales me with amusing anecdotes of the water’s brilliant colours and beautiful corals.  Unfortunately, the weather does not permit me to go for my own undersea adventure.

Super Sago Pudding at Lumba Lumba cafe

Buffets & Bliss

Lumba Lumba café serves a variety of food that is both easy on the eye and most agreeable on my palate. Executive chef Mohamed Razif Haron lives up to his reputation as a celebrity chef and creates interesting buffet menus comprising both local and international fare with pleasing presentations and delectable flavours.

That night, at the poolside barbecue buffet, there are so many interesting sauces that I need help to figure out which sauce goes with which meat – seafood, chicken and others. The chicken is grilled just right and as I chew, I can taste how it is marvelously marinated and free from fat.

Idah, my therapist at Holistic Spa
Ultimate holistic indulgence

 To top off my “me-time” on the island, I make an appointment with the Holistic Spa and chose the Sibu Classic, a signature relaxing aromatherapy massage.  Surrounded by stimulating aromas and the hum of soft music, I surrender myself to the professional hands of Idah, my therapist, letting her skillfully restore a sense of balance in me.

With mind and body blissfully rejuvenated, I float back to my room and indulge in a short lie-in on cool, comfortable cotton sheets before I reluctantly stir myself to pack and leave, revived and ready to face the real world again.


Sibu Island Resort offers packages for family leisure, honeymoon and corporate team-building. Take advantage of special holiday packages valid from now till March 31, 2010, that are inclusive of catamaran sea transfer, breakfast, dinner and a complimentary land activity for each day of your stay. Pick your activity from jungle trekking, archery, an adrenalin-pumping time on the flying fox or the Poco-Poco dance workout.

Getting There: Plan your arrival to catch the catamaran which departs from Tanjung Leman at 11am, 2pm and 5pm. Parking for self-drive cars is available at Tanjung Leman Jetty at RM5 a day. Details, call 07-219 9813, Fax: 07-223 1188 or visit website:

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 5 January 2010

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