The district in Johor is home to some of the country’s best beaches, writes Nur Zarina Othman
WHEN I told a friend that I would be spending five days in Mersing, his first reaction was: “What’s there?” But five days are not enough to explore Mersing.
Johor is the only state in the country that has the best of the east and west coast areas — the South China Sea and Malacca Straits. Mersing, a district on Johor’s west, has some of the country’s best beaches.
With the many serene beaches along the Mersing coastline, it is impossible to choose just one.
Other than the famous Air Papan, Pantai Rekreasi near Tanjung Resang is one of the better choices for a picnic. With fine white sands and natural shade under the casuarina trees just 50 metres from the water, Pantai Rekreasi is worth stopping at.
Pasir Lanun fits best those with a love for story and adventure. It is home to many legends and myths. It is believed that pirates used to keep gold in one of the two caves.
Pulau Tinggi Marine Park consists of Pulau Tinggi and 13 other islands surrounding it.
For those who don’t fancy snorkelling and diving, hire a boat and go island-hopping.
There are more than 60 islands in the Seribuat Archipelago, off the east coast of Johor, to be explored but they are spread out.
If you island hop from Penyabong jetty, there are many islands to explore. Some islands are privately owned, so do check with the boatmen on the islands you may want to beach at.
You can also hunt for oysters. Many women opt out of deep-water fishing with their husbands and look for oysters — their version of girls’ day out.
Pulau Mawar is famous for its rock formation in the middle of the island. As the island is also accessible from land (during low tide), many go on a nature trail to see the rock. But it is dangerous to walk the trail without a guide.
ROD, TACKLE AND BAIT
I followed my father fishing when I was younger, sitting at a jetty, starring into the water for a sight of a bite but I have never tried it. But today, I decide to try it ... and call it beginner’s luck, I reel in a fish, nothing big but it gives me confidence.
Penyabong Jetty is well-known among tacklers who love fishing. I try fishing from the jetty but the little fish keep nibbling on my bait and leave my hook empty. So, I try my luck again at the nearby Batu Ayam.
The story has it that a pirate named Tok Jabbar, or also known as Si Kanchung, went to Batu Ayam, an island connected to the mainland by a sandbar, to take part in cock fights (sabung, hence the name penyabong, which means one who takes part in cock fights).
Batu Ayam is known to attract grouper but today, they seem to be shying away from my hook, although I see baby grouper swimming in the rock pools.
Just 10 minutes from the jetty is the famous Kelong Acheh where you can hire boats to fish in open waters.
LOW IN HEIGHT, HIGH ON VIEW
For those who prefer to stay on land, why not try climbing Gunung Arong?
It is an easy trek for children and the view from the top is breath taking.
It may be just 274m high, but it overlooks the South China Sea and if the tide is low, carefully climb down and catch the view of the sandy beach (which is not visible during high tide).
Climbers need to get a permit to climb Gunung Arong from the ranger’s office in Mersing.
CLIMB GUNUNG ARONG
PERMIT TO CLIMB GUNUNG ARONG AT
Pejabat Hutan Daerah Johor Timur,
Bangunan Kerajaan, Jalan Sultanah, Mersing, Johor.
TEL: 07-7981 030
FAX: 07-7995 352
HOW TO GET THERE
• By land — There’s a bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan to
Mersing or you can drive. It is five hours from Kuala Lumpur and two from Johor Baru.
• By air — Fly in to Senai International Airport and either rent a car or hire a taxi to Mersing. It takes two hours from Senai.
COMFORTABLE, SAFE AND SMOOTH RIDE
A ROAD trip driving the Nissan Serena Highway Star turns out to be a pleasant ride.
It is spacious enough for three and our video equipment.
The seven-seater option makes it convenient for our guide and photographer to ride along with us during our excursions.
It has a large windscreen and windows but the back passengers’ windows only open halfway, a child safety feature.
It offers a reliable, smooth driving experience and we travelled 1,300km on this 2.0 engine for six days on only two full tanks.