Malaysia

This Secret Island In Malaysia Can Be Reached Without A Boat From SG & It’s Photogenic AF

Pulau Mawar – “Island” near Mersing Town


Nature lovers probably know the clearest beaches and lakes in Southeast Asia by heart – however, most of them require a flight to get to. But we’ll let you in on our little secret: there’s one you can drive to from Singapore. Called Pulau Mawar, it’s an isolated “island” about a 30-minute drive from Mersing Town. 

Despite being rather ulu, Pulau Mawar is worth a visit because of its turquoise waters, iconic Insta-tree, and majestic stone arch called Heaven’s Gate. Read on to find out how you can get to this scenic landmark. 


How do you get to Pulau Mawar from Singapore?


To get to Pulau Mawar, you can choose to drive in or take a bus with KKL Express to Mersing Jetty, with tickets starting from just S$39. You can choose between a few pick-up points in Singapore such as Kovan Hub and Bugis MRT Exit D Taxi Stand, making it all the more convenient for those who will be taking public transport. From Mersing Jetty, it’s a 30-minute drive – book a private hire car that’ll take you to Pulau Mawar. 

If you’re driving from Singapore, the entire journey will take about 2 hours and 50 minutes. Drive from Woodlands Checkpoint and make a pitstop at Mersing Town, before continuing your journey up north to Pulau Mawar. 


Crossing to Pulau Mawar from Pantai Mawar



Image adapted from: Google Maps

Now don’t get confused, there are 2 locations here: Pulau Mawar and Pantai Mawar

“Pulau” stands for “island” in Malay while “Pantai” stands for “beach”. To get to Pulau Mawar, you’ll need to cross Pantai Mawar first, a photo-worthy and serene beach. However, the island is only accessible during low tide – as you’ll have to cross a sandbank. We recommend checking the tide online before heading down to avoid making a wasted trip. 


Image credit: @fahmi2901 via Instagram

If you’re driving, park your car at a nearby car park called “Jalan Penyabong Carpark Opposite Pulau Mawar”. It’s a short 1-minute walk to Pantai Mawar. One thing to note is that if you’re searching for Pantai Mawar on Google Maps, don’t confuse it for Pantai Penyabong – this is a different beach altogether. 


The clear waters, bright blue skies, and golden sand is a sight to behold.
Image credit: Liew cy via Google Maps

There isn’t a dedicated trail to follow. As you walk along the beach, you’ll notice yourself being in the middle of the ocean and a mudflat.


Mangrove forest with iconic Insta-tree



Image credit: @fahmi2901 via Instagram

Towards the end of the beach, you’ll find a mangrove forest. If you’re interested in nature photography, this is your cue to whip out your camera and start snapping. Do be careful when walking around as there are roots and stems poking out of the ground. And watch out for any mangrove critters like crabs that may be on the ground.


Image credits: @junnkae via Instagram

The highlight of the mangrove is a famous Insta-tree, also known as the “lonely mangrove tree”. With the scenic background, it’s not that hard to understand why it’s such a popular IG-worthy spot. This is also a landmark for those hiking to Heaven’s Gate. 


Hike to the famous Heaven’s Gate



Image credits: @hui_hoon_yeong1121 via Instagram

Your trip to Pantai Mawar wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Heaven’s Gate, a massive rock formation. It also goes by its Malay name “Gerbang Laut Pulau Mawar” – which is what will appear on Google Maps. In fact, some might recognise this place by its Chinese name, “天堂之门”. 


Image adapted from: @lohqingxuan via Instagram

Getting to Heaven’s Gate requires a little test of faith – but the view is worth the journey. In order to get there, you’ll have to take a 3-minute hike through the forest. There are ropes to assist you every step of the way. That being said, this may not be the most accessible hike if you’re travelling with elderly or kids. 


Image credits @jacyyong7526 via Instagram

There’s a final descent after a hike, where you’ll have to climb a makeshift ladder down to a deserted beach. Once you reach it, you’ll be welcomed by a huge stone arch and the South China Sea. The clear blue waters and rocks around make it a postcard-worthy spot. We recommend wearing proper footwear as the rocks may be a little slippery. 


Image credits: @alan_tan_73 via Instagram

Astronomy geeks should plan their visit at night, as Pulau Mawar is also the perfect stargazing spot. Since the nearest town is 30 minutes away and there’s hardly any light pollution around, you might be able to catch an astronomical shot of the Milky Way. You can only imagine how bright the stars would be, considering how they’re the biggest source of light when night falls on the area. 


Image credits: MJ Phong via Google Maps

If you’re staying till dark, one thing to note is that you’ll need to cross the forest, mangrove swamp, and Pantai Mawar before you can reach the car park. Remember to factor this in when planning your trip – and bring a torch light with extra batteries.


Plan a road trip to Pantai Mawar on your next free weekend



Image credit: @xingxing2699 via Instagram

Crossing the Causeway entails more than just eating and shopping. Drive further up, and you’ll be treated to stunning hikes and landmarks such as Pulau Mawar. Especially if you’ve always wanted to plan an adventurous road trip with your besties, this area in Mersing town is a photo-worthy destination. 

If you prefer to stay overnight in Mersing, there are hotel options such as Felda Residence Tanjung Leman (from S$51.03/night) and Aseania Resort Pulau Besar (from S$222.31/night). Most importantly, it’s a chill and relaxing opportunity for you to escape away from busy city life. 

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Cover image adapted from: @hui_hoon_yeong1121 & @xingxing2699 via Instagram

Gracelyn Lim

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