The relatively unknown island of Rawa in Johor is different from many Malaysian islands that I have been to in the sense that it is owned by the Johor Royal family and that your entire stay at the island is paid for in a package that includes two nights of accommodation, the boat transfers to and from the island back to Mersing, and all the meals (from dinner the evening of arrival to lunch the day of departure). I would normally be repelled by the idea of a travel package as my regular travel style allows me to completely control every element and fine tune and customize it according to both the necessity as well as the costs involved. Since another friend was organizing the trip, I decided to just put my fastidious and frugal tendencies aside and to just 'go along for the ride'.
Due to the size of the group (which consisted of 9 individuals), we decided to take the Group Room package which accommodates 6 pax and above. This package had a listed weekday rate of RM 390 per pax but the 16% tax brought the total up to RM 452.40 per pax and the 10% discount brought the final total down to RM407.16 per pax. We were given the attic room (C3), which was described as :
Getting to Rawa Island
Since the bus (which cost RM 62.21 return) that left the Bandar Tasik Selatan (BTS) station at 09:00 reached Mersing well after lunch (approximately 14:00), the boat that left for the island from the Mersing Jetty, located at GPS coordinates '2.434455, 103.838460', ended up leaving at low tide. To make things worse, the phase of the moon was close to that of a new moon (both celestial bodies located in the same section of the sky) which meant that the tides were spring tides, which were about 20% lower on average during low tide than the levels of neap tides during low tide. Having checked the tide tables of the marine reports a few days later, extrapolating backwards would have given a rough time of 15:42 for the low tide of tide set two for the 10th of March.
After a prolonged journey, due to both the entanglement of jetsam on the motor that took some time to unravel as well as the reduction in speed (close to Mersing) due to the low spring tide, the boat arrived at Rawa island. Instead of dropping the group off at the Rawa Jetty, located at GPS coordinates '2.517901, 103.975194', the boat went right up to the beach where we were greeted by one of the staff from Alang's Rawa.
The first thing we did was to bring our bags up to the room which turned out to be somewhat pleasant although not quite what you would expect for the amount that we were paying. We were to find out soon after though that the food on the other hand was! The variety, the quality and the quantity were all up to par although the preparation time for each dish did seem to be somewhat excessive. Towards the end of the trip we resorted (pun intended) to passing our order to the staff and then only going back to the room to freshen up before dinner. The menu had a variety of Asian and Western hybrid dishes and were chosen based on a single main dish as well as 2 smaller side dishes (potatoes, wedges, rice, salad, etc).
Water and drinks were not part of the package however (except for coffee or tea in the morning) and the prices that were listed were atrociously overpriced. You can expect to pay RM4 for a small 500ml bottle of mineral water and RM8 for a large 1.5l bottle for example. Other drinks (including a can of beer) were well in excess of RM10. I was fortunate enough to have realized that drinks had not been listed as part of the package and as such had brought along 3 large 1.5l bottles of mineral water with me that I had purchased in Mersing for RM1 each.
The day wound down fairly quickly after that with some snorkeling preceding dinner. The group then decided to take a leisurely stroll along the beach in a North-Westerly direction that ended up joining up to some wooden walkways that spanned the North-Western tip of the island. From there the trail progressed inland with a slight incline. The trail then curved back around the Northern tip of the island and began to head South. After following a few curves in what would now be considered a road, we arrived back at the cluster of resorts that populated the West coast of Rawa. Unfortunately I had not expected the 'leisurely stroll' that we ended up taking to head that far North and as such did not record the walk on the Suunto Ambit.