Rawa (Malay: Pulau Rawa) is a small, beautiful island located 16 km (10 mi) off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Surrounded by clean blue waters with jungle vegetation struggling for a foothold on the craggy cliffs, the island would have been bypassed by the tourist trade altogether were it not for the soft white sands fringing its western shore. Owned by the Johor Sultanate, the island has been sensitively developed with just two small resorts. For people seeking a secluded, weekend getaway, you can't find a more idyllic location than this one.
The only way to get to Rawa Island is by boat, normally from Mersing. From Mersing, Rawa island is a 30 mins speed boat ride or a 1 hour ferry ride. During the peak season (April-October) there are lot of ferries and speed boats moving between Mersing and Rawa, but during the off season there will be just 1 or 2 rides per day. So better check the ferry time in advance and plan the trip accordingly. Ferries and overnight stays can be booked with the resort office on Jalan Abu Bakar in Mersing, or booked in advance.
It may also be possible to come here on the way back from another island, such as Tioman.
If you enter Mersing by motor cycle you may have some luggage and equipment that you do not want to leave in your bike. Rawa resort office, where you buy your boat tickets, is close to the jetty from where boats take you to Rawa. You can leave part of your luggage, helmets and jackets in the office.
Given its small size, there is no local transportation on this island. You can walk up and down the beach along the island's western side within 15 minutes. There is also a steep path leading to the peak of the island which takes a similar amount of time to walk. The other sides of the island consist of inaccessible rocky cliffs.
If the sea is calm you may want to rent a canoe and paddle around Rawa Island, for a different view of the island, including cliffs and caves on the eastern coast. The eastern coast should be avoided in bad weather as there is no safe harbour on this side of the island and waves and wind may push you towards open sea.
Rawa boasts no monuments, no historical sites, no museums and no tacky tourist traps. The island itself, a small rocky peak surrounded by clear blue sea, is the attraction.
Besides a pricy souvenir shop at the Rawa Safaris Resort, there is no shopping on the island.
The two resorts each have a restaurant, with hefty prices. At the Le Club, a simple fried rice/noodle costs RM 13+, white rice RM 3+, curry fish RM 28+, tomyam soup RM 25+ and other western food cost more than RM 20+. Rawa Safaris offers buffet style at a high price (although the full board option is available). Buffet dinner is RM 58++. There are no other restaurants on the island.
Normally the grill dinner buffet is served in the open, under the palm trees. Guests are called to dinner with bell chimes. In the dark nights the atmosphere is nice as there never are too many people due to low accommodation capacity. One easily becomes acquainted with visitors from mainland, Singapore or from far away countries.
Le Club Rawa offers breakfast with the choices of toast with eggs or pancake with syrup combined with free flows of coffee and tea (if order a pot).
The two resorts sell drinks, again at hefty prices. A 1.5 L bottle of mineral water costs RM 7 at the Le Club, several times what it costs on Tioman island or on the mainland. A can of beer at Le Club is RM 10. A can of Coke or 100 Plus cost RM 4+.
Rawa Safaris offers wider choice of drinks, from hard liquor, cocktails to mineral waters.
You are strongly recommended to bring your own drinking water, as both the resorts don't provide any drinking water.
On average, two bottles of 1.5 litres per person per day.
There are just two options. Book well in advance, especially at high season
Take a boat to Mersing. The trip should be arranged in advance, best before coming to the island, otherwise through the resort or by yourself by phone.