FOR the uninitiated, Mersing’s main claim to fame is it being the principal gateway to Johor’s group of islands as well as the neighboring Pahang’s Tioman island.
Throngs of crowds pass through Mersing’s main jetty eager to spend a weekend on these tropical islands, oblivious to the fact that this district on the west coast of Johor is home to a few of the best beaches found in Malaysia. Open to the South China Sea, the shores of Mersing are easily accessible too.
Mersing is about 130km away from Johor Bahru and 350 km from Kuala Lumpur via the North-South Expressway. The airport nearest to Mersing is Senai International Airport which is 140km away in Johor Bahru.
As a coastal district, Mersing’s beaches offer a unique mix of nature, culture, heritage and history, with plenty of breathtaking scenery to take in. Here are the
top five beaches to visit if you happen to find yourself in Mersing.
1. AIR PAPAN
Found 12km away from the town centre, the beach of Air Papan is without a doubt the district’s most popular and best developed beach. With its sandy and shallow beach, Air Papan attracts families for picnics and small groups for sea-side camping under the shade of casuarina trees.
The beach is also the venue for the festival of Air Papan, a yearly event held every May that showcases Johor’s cultural heritage and traditions.
2. TELUK BUIH
Farther southwards along the coast line of Air Papan is a small bay that has been named after the foamy white surf that gently breaks against its sandy shores. Secluded and tranquil, Teluk Buih is where locals and those in the know go for a quiet picnic and a swim in the shallow waters of the bay. Along the road towards the bay are various fishermen jetties where fresh catch can be bought straight off the fishing boats.
3. PULAU MAWAR
About 26km away from Mersing town along the Penyabong-Tanjung Resang road is Pulau Mawar, a rocky island connected to the mainland by a narrow sandbank. Virtually untouched, the wide open beach and tidal flats facing the small island is where visitors go to escape the weekends crowds found at Mersing’s more touristy spots. During low tide, visitors can even walk to Pulau Mawar and there is even a short hiking trail that leads to a stone arch nicknamed Heaven’s Gate although it is advisable to get a guide.
4. TANJUNG PENYABONG
Located 33km from Mersing town, Tanjung Penyabong was recently given an upgrade through the development of a modern waterfront and jetty. If once only anglers can be seen either casting their fishing lines from the beach or renting local fishing boats, the spacious food court and modern amenities of the new Tanjung Penyabong Waterfront is now attracting other types of visitors. A small uninhabited island named Pulau Pelanduk lies right in front of the main jetty, while an even smaller rocky island named Batu Ayam can be visited on foot by a concrete walkway built on top a sandbank. According to local history the island of Batu Ayam is where the name of Penyabong emerged, where a pirate named Tok Jabbar used to take part in cock fights or sabong, hence the word penyabong which means taking part in cock fights in Malay.
5. PANTAI PASIR LANUN
Less than a kilometer away from Tanjung Penyabong Waterfront is a beach named Pantai Pasir Lanun. Meaning Pirate Sand Beach in Malay, it is said to derive its name from stories of pirates who plundered merchant ships in the South China Sea and then hid their booty in one of the caves near the beach. Reachable by an unpaved road that cuts through a coastal forest, Pantai Pasir Lanun still exudes mystery and a sense of adventure for those visiting. More myth and legend rather than facts, the allure of lost treasure still continues to fascinate visitors and it is not a rare sight to see people with metal detectors walking the length of the beach.
By : Zulkifly Ab Latif – NST