It was almost too easy to get to Rawa. Hop on a coach from Newton, and you’ll reach Mersing jetty in 3.5 hours. From there, it’s only a 30 min ferry ride to paradise island. This journey, however, is best done during weekdays, when the traffic is light. Our return trip took twice as long on a Sunday.

I’ve heard of this place through word-of-mouth, and it’s known to be this pretty but also pricey little island with a gorgeous beach. Being a Malaysian island, I kinda underestimated exactly how costly it could be. Well, there are only 2 resorts on the island, and we decided to go for the more rustic Alang’s Rawa as it had better reviews than the other. It’s priced per pax as all 3 meals are provided, and it cost me SGD70 a day for a basic beachfront room. In comparison, Rawa Island Resort would cost SGD190 per person for a double room and meals.

The Instagram-famous swing right outside our room.

The first thing I noticed about Rawa was its fine, fine sand. It’s hard to come by such white and powdery sand, and it feels absolutely glorious beneath my feet. It also turned the crystal clear shallow waters turquoise when the sun shone bright. And that, is a recipe for a picture-perfect beach.

But what I really appreciated about this island was its tranquility. There were just a handful of visitors during our stay. Perfect for anti-social, peace-seeking, city-wearied souls like Shanna and I.

Rawa, however, is very popular among expats in Singapore. They swing by for the weekend, and party all night. So I guess it was a blessing in disguise that we couldn’t extend our stay into the weekend. All the rooms were already booked out when we inquired more than a month ahead of our trip.

Cheers to empty beaches.
Daisy, the resort’s overweight resident dog who’s clearly enjoying the beach life a little too much.

So everything’s perfect outdoors. Our room, on the other hand, was a little more basic than I was prepared for. We knew that there wouldn’t be air conditioning and that the bathroom is rudimentary. I’ve stayed in quite a few beach resorts in Malaysia, and knew that the showers and tap water would also be salty.

But having powdery bed linen was a first. They’re probably clean. And by clean I mean washed with sea water, leaving some salty residues even when dried. I certainly didn’t feel good when I had to lie in it. Another thing was how sticky we got from the salt water showers. I’ve never had this problem with other resorts, so this one was probably pure, untreated sea water.

So Shanna and I were sticky all day and night. Feeling gross when getting into bed, feeling sticky when getting up in the morning. But that said, those were the only moments that weren’t pleasant during our stay.

I would check myself into the same room if I ever visited again because it’s a great price for a room that’s 20 steps from divine waters. I also really enjoyed lounging and drifting into a reverie on our front porch. Next time, I will pack my own sheets and pillow case. Anyway, most of our time on the island was spent outdoors. 

It was great because we barely moved. We parked ourselves on the beach in the shadows of the palm trees. With a book in one hand, and a beer in the other, I really couldn’t be more happy to be stationary. There was nothing to do except laze. The only thing that kept us from truly being one with the ground was the movement of the sun, which robbed us of the shade and forced us to move along with the shadows. 

I thought that I’d be bored with this kinda beach life, but I guess age has taught me how to appreciate the slower pace.

Besides reading, other activities included snoozing on the beach hammock, staring into space on our porch’s hammock, staring at the sea on the cushy beach mattress, and bobbing in the sea. And just like that, the sun was soon making its way below the horizon.

To be frank, I was quite worried about the accommodation’s packaged meals. If it was shit there’d be no other choices on the island. So it was a huge relief that Alang’s Rawa served up some fantastic Asian dishes for lunch and dinner. Breakfast was forgettable — bread, spreads, cereals and such.

We ate all our meals at this little hut built right on the beach, where we could dig our toes into the sand as we indulged in home-cooked food. It’s really the life!

Day 2

It’s an incredible feeling to be greeted first thing in the morning by a pristine beach at your door step. So despite our icky sticky room, it still felt like a pretty luxurious stay.

I noticed a small crowd near the waters, and upon closer inspection, I realised that there were some small black tip reef sharks hunting fish in the shallow waters!

It’s always exciting to spot wildlife!
Daisy getting a morning bath with the help of a kind resort guest.

Rawa’s perfect for snorkeling. The coral reef starts from just about 20 meters from the beach, and there’s quite a lot to see if you venture out a little further! The most exciting thing was a stingray (below).

The day passed in a blissful blur. Somehow, time flies when doing “nothing” on this alluring island. Between snorkeling and lazing around, we had an exquisite lunch made up of tumeric sotong, sweet and sour chicken, stir fried broccoli, kang kong, wedges, and cheesy pasta.

We also had a lot of laughs trying out the jetty slides that starts about 3 levels up and shoots you out into the sea.

After that, we did a little hike up the hill.

Shanna approves of the view.
Pre-sunset views on the peak.

For a tiny island, there’s actually has quite a lot to do! I could’ve easily spent another 2 days here… But this trip has been short, sweet, and very rejuvenating.

I’ll be thinking of this place often too…

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