Babi Besar Island which is literally translated as Big Boar Island, or more recently known as Besar Island, is an island which is placed under the jurisdiction of Mersing district, Johor, Malaysia. It is named as such due to a folklore legends regarding wild boars that are used to roam in the island before humans explored the island. In present, there are no boars in the island, hence the boar is dropped as part of the island’s name.
Another folklore legend that is still lingering strongly among the villagers here are the story of a couple turned into mermaids after eating an enchanted kind of seaweed where it is said that the nibble marks appearing on the rocks at low tide is their doing. Together with the islands of Rawa and Sibu which are located nearby, they are highly regarded as having beautiful powdery white beaches with crystal clear blue sea view. This is due to the close proximity of these islands to the high seas, where the sweeping waves would always help in washing away the mud from the beaches.
The government has also taken a step further by putting the island into a gazette status as a marine park to prevent it from being destroyed by human development. Due to the serene and peaceful nature of the island, visitors are guaranteed for a trip in solace in the island. The island’s highest point could stretch 258 meters above the sea level with thick vegetation comprising tropical jungle and coconut trees. There are a handful of resorts at the beach area with at least six fishing villages. The island is best for visit from October to March, while it is closed from March to September. The peak season is from April to July, however May to June is the time where the sea is at its clearest.
People driving from Kuala Lumpur may drive via North-South Highway/E2 for immediate access to the Mersing jetty terminal. The journey could take up around 5 hours depending on the traffic situation.
There is a bus terminal in the Mersing town which is located ten minutes away from the jetty. Take the trip directly to Mersing from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) terminal using express bus services such as Transnasional Express or Sepakat Liner before opting for taxi or walking by foot to go to the jetty.
There are charter boats available from Mersing jetty terminal to Besar Island jetty on a daily basis at 12.30 pm for trips to the island from Mersing and 10.30 am from the island to Mersing. However, there are no trips being done at night. The journey usually takes around thirty minutes.
Rawa Island is another popular island destination for tourism located not far from the Babi Besar Island. Being 16 kilometers off Mersing, it gets its name from the white doves which are called “rawa” locally. There are a lot of white doves around the area, being a staple part of the island’s view. Being a relatively small island, there are no proper roads, instead walkways are everywhere to encourage people to walk around the island to enjoy its beauty. Aside from the few resorts built here, development works have been done sensitively by the government to avoid further disruption to the natural ecosystem. Aside from snorkeling, diving and swimming, one can also opt to rent a canoe and paddle around the island to enjoy the island’s view from a different angle.
Air Papan Beach is situated on the Mersing town, being a shallow and sandy beach facing the nearby Setindan Island. It is quite a popular beach among the locals during weekends where there are a lot of fun and games that could be done with family and friends such as sunbathing and picnicking, while snorkeling and diving are also available here. In addition to that, the beach is a nice fishing spot where a lot of fishing competitions are organized in this beach. There are also some shops nearby selling equipment for snorkeling and diving.