Things to do in Desaru

Mention Johor to anyone and there’s a 99% chance that Johor Bahru city comes to mind. But there are also plenty of JB road trips and just an hour’s drive away from the causeway lies Desaru, a getaway town located along the state’s east coast. From seaside glamping to fun water parks for the kiddos, here are some things to do in Desaru for your next weekend trip to Malaysia.

1. Tuck into an all-you-can-eat fresh fruit buffet at Desaru Fruit Farm

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Desaru Fruit farm
Thousand-finger banana trees and lots of durians.
Image adapted from: @nmnplantslover, @easilee7 via Instagram

Fresh fruit lovers have got to make a stop at Desaru Fruit Farm. Go on a farm tour to learn more about different species of fruits, then impress your friends with fun facts like how a jackfruit can contain up to 500 seeds.

There’s also a mini petting zoo where you can feed bunnies and a bee farm to learn how honey is made. Apart from walking about, you can hop onto an ATV and zoom around to check out the huge compound.

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Desaru Fruit Farm buffet
Image credit: @nuttymunchyy via Instagram

If you join the farm tour with the option of lunch (RM78/pax, ~S$22.37), the dishes heavily feature fruits as ingredients, even in the mains. For example, try tom yum soup made with coconut water or dip your calamari in dragon fruit sauce. 

At the end of your meal, enjoy an all-you-can-eat fresh fruit buffet. You’ll get a taste of some of the locally grown fruits including durians, bananas, starfruits, and passion fruits.

92, 82200 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Thursday 09:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

2. Have a go at 20 rides at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark

10 Things To Do in Desaru Kraken's Revenge
Loop through 360 degrees at Kraken’s Revenge before you plunge back to shore – definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Back home, we have Adventure Cove and Universal Studios for a day’s worth of fun. Combine both thrills at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, where you can get your swimsuits on and unleash your inner wild child at the 20 attractions found onsite. 

10 Things To Do in Desaru The Tempest

Among the exciting rides is The Tempest, a 55ft-long tube and funnel slide that ejects you out onto a 24ft drop and sends you swirling around on a float. You’ll definitely need to hold on to the float handles as the slide sends you spinning in all directions at high speeds.

82200 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Friday 10:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

3. Go on a walking tour along Desaru Beach

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia- desaru Beach
Image adapted from: @v_for_vnsa, @izwan_sam via Instagram

Of course, no resort vacay is complete without a trip to the beach. Enter Desaru Beach, where you get to enjoy picnics and loads of beach bummin’ fun. If you want to indulge your adventurous side, just head over to one of the local operators offering water sports services such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and water skiing.

Things to do in Desaru - Desaru Beach
Image credit:

There’s also much to learn about marine life here. You’ll find many unique creatures on the shore during low tide, and even get to encounter sea creatures like brittle stars and barnacles while being led by a local tour guide.

Book a Desaru Beach and Tide Pool Walking Tour.

10 Things To Do in Desaru Dash Watersports

Desaru Beach is also the place to go if you’re looking to indulge in some watersports. The beach behind The Westin hotel is home to an outlet of Dash Outdoors, the facilitator of water sports activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and thrilling towed rides like Banana Boat.

Address: 81600 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

4. Hang out with 100 ostriches at Desaru Ostrich Farm 

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Desaru Ostrich Farm

In case you missed out on your primary school science lessons, here’s a fun fact: ostriches lay the biggest eggs on the planet. Even better, you might just get to see them hatch at Desaru Ostrich Farm, home to about 100 ostriches.

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Desaru Ostrich Farm omelette

Apart from getting up close to the creatures, you will also be able to get tidbits of info about them from the tour guides onsite. Yummy meals are also served, where you can have a taste of ostrich-themed dishes in the form of omelette (RM18, ~S$5.18), bak kut teh (RM36, ~S$10.34), and even teppanyaki (RM36, ~S$10.34).

Desaru Ostrich Farm
RM20/adult (~S$5.75) | RM15/child (~S$4.30)
Jln Teluk Ramunia, Kampung Changi, 81600 Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Friday 10:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

5. Explore the wild side of Desaru with a mangrove tour

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - mangrove boat tourImage adapted from: @junglewalladesaru via Instagram

Desaru may be known for its pristine beaches, but it also has a vast mangrove and swamp ecosystem home to a wide array of wildlife – perfect for nature lovers. 

One such place is Sungai Lebam, wetlands just 15 minutes away by car from the coast. Those interested in visiting the place can book a spot on the Sungai Lebam Mangrove Tour operated by Junglewalla Desaru.

10 Things To Do in Desaru Mangrove Tour Animals
Image credit: Junglewalla Desaru

For a fee of RM120/pax (~S$34.42), embark on a boat tour, inclusive of a return transfer from Desaru Coast, the group’s own nature guide, and bottled water. Do have your camera ready to snap shots of the native wildlife like herons, monkeys, and crabs

There’s also the option for a kayaking tour (RM200/pax, ~S$57.36) along the same river where you get to kayak around for 90 minutes before enjoying a seafood lunch at a floating restaurant.

Book a Sungai Lebam River cruise tour.

Duration: 2 hours
Tour days: Tuesdays to Sundays
Contact: +60 19-225 2300 | Junglewalla Desaru website

6. Learn about Johor’s fishermen at Tanjung Balau Fishing Village 

 Tanjung Balau Fishing Village
Image credit:
buck low via Google Maps

As the adage goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life. See it for yourself at Tanjung Balau Fishing Village, where you can observe fishermen live their kampung life while you enjoy a stroll along the beach.

Address:  Lembaga Bandaran Johor Tenggara, Jalan Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunus, Bandar Penawar, Johor, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Malaysia
Contact: +60 7-822 8136

Tanjung Balau Fishing Village
Image credit:
彭刚毅 via Google Maps

While you’re there, look out for Tanjung Balau Fishermen Museum. This beachfront museum takes you through a learning journey of the village. Here, see exhibits of the fishermen’s boats and equipment – geology nerds can also check out close to 100 types of rocks that were once from the place. 

Muzium Nelayan Tanjung Balau (Fishermen Museum)
Kompleks Pelancongan, Tanjung Balau, 81930 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia

7. Swing clubs with a view of Desaru Coast at Els Club 

10 Things To Do in Desaru Elms Golf Club

Golf isn’t just about swinging clubs or living an atas life. At The Els Club, you’ll be able to catch a breather while enjoying the serene view of the Desaru Coast. The Els Club comprises the Ocean Course and Valley Course, where the latter was named the best golf course in the country by the World Golf Awards.

Ocean Course
Rates: RM350, ~S$100.38 (Mon-Fri) | RM420, ~S$120.46 (Sat-Sun & PH)
Address: No. 4 Jalan Danau, Desaru Coast, 81930 Desaru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: 7.30am-7.30pm, Daily
Contact: +60 7-878 0000 | The Els Club Desaru Coast – Ocean Course website

Valley Course
Rates: RM400, ~S$114.72 (Thu & Fri) | RM475, ~S$136.23 (Sat-Sun & PH)
Address: No. 4 Jalan Danau, Desaru Coast, 81930 Desaru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Thu-Sun, 8.30am-5pm (Last tee off 2pm)
Contact: +60 7-878 0000 | The Els Club Desaru Coast – Valley Course website

8. Go birdwatching and spot more than 90 bird species 

 birdwatching - things to do in desaru
Image credit:

Nature lovers can treat themselves to a 2-hour Birdwatching Experience, where you can expect to be treated to fauna native to Desaru. The highlight of the tour would definitely be the chance to spot over 90 species of birds in the area – make sure to have your binos handy. 

Suitable for both amateurs and avid birdwatchers, this tour brings you to spot the Brahminy Kite and Oriental Pied Hornbill, amongst other unique species. You can choose to go for an individual or group guide, depending on whether you prefer an intimate or more social experience. 

Book the Desaru Birdwatching Experience tour.

9. Snap IG-worthy shots at an abandoned jetty 

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Sungai Rengit Jetty

We all have that inner nomad that loves to recce off the beaten tracks – we’re certain that many of us have visited these abandoned places even back home. Here, go on an adventure to Sungai Rengit Jetty, an ancient relic that now makes a charming backdrop for IG-worthy shots.

Sungai Rengit jetty on Google Maps

Things To Do in Desaru, Johor, Malaysia - Super Lobster Village

Sungai Rengi Jetty is located in a fishing village located about a 40-minute drive away from the city. While in the area, have a meal at Super Lobster Village nearby, where you can dig into fresh catch that’ll make the journey even more worthwhile.

Address: PTD 789, Jalan Perindu 15, Kampung Bukit Buloh, Pengerang 81600, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: 11am-10pm, Daily
Contact: +60 17-680 6556 | Super Lobster Village Facebook

10. Go glamping in bubble tents at Sea Horizon Resort 

sea horizon
Image credit:
Sea Horizon Resort 旭日の海 Facebook

You need not be in boy scouts mode to have a good time camping. Have it easy at Sea Horizons Resort, a lush glamping spot in Kota Tinggi that’s a 50-minute drive from Desaru.

All geared up with comfy beds, bathrooms and air con, you’ll be getting a hotel-tier experience that’s no doubt a one-up from typical glamping trips.

Things don’t just end there. From ATV (RM90/30 minutes, ~S$25.81) to kayaking (RM10/pax, ~S$2.87), look forward to a whole string of indoor and outdoor activities that’ll keep you up and moving throughout your stay.

Things to do in Desaru - sea horizon - dinosaur trail
The sights you’ll see as part of the Dinosaur Trail.
Image adapted from: @aizatabdullah via Instagram

Nature seekers can explore the Dinosaur Trail, which contains an underwater volcano formed millions of years ago. Else, have an upgraded breakfast in bed experience, where you can bring your meal to the balcony to enjoy the breathtaking seaside views. 

Sea Horizon Resort (formerly Tanjung Sutera Resort)
Lot 901, Kuala Sedili Besar, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Thursday 09:00 a.m - 07:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

11. DIY a lantern & spot fireflies at Kota Tinggi Firefly Park 

Kota Tinggi Firefly Park
Image credit:

Fairy lights do the trick in adding a dreamy aesthetic to our bedrooms, but Kota Tinggi Firefly Park takes it au naturale. Hop on a boat through Johor River and you’ll get to witness thousands of glowing fireflies captivating the scene. 

Things to do in Desaru - Kota Tinggi Firefly Park
Image credit:
Kota Tinggi Firefly Park Facebook

Similar to Taiwan’s Kongming lanterns, you can DIY your own lanterns here. Jot all of your wishes onto the lantern and release it into the air – you might just strike a spark and get the stars aligned to your favour.

Jalan Kota Tinggi, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Thursday Open 24 Hours  Show More Timings 

New & fun things to do in Desaru 2023

While JB remains the place for foodies and serial shoppers, Desaru is perfect for those of us craving a resort escapade away from the city.

With fun activities and tranquil nature hideouts, there are many things to do in Desaru that make it an easy go-to for those yearning for something more laid back. Plus, there are many beach resorts in Desaru like The Westin and Hard Rock Hotel that you can book a cosy stay at after your day.

How do I get from Singapore to Desaru via ferry?

There are various modes of transport to get from Singapore to Desaru including taking a bus, Grab, and a 90-minute ferry. Taking the Singapore to Desaru ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal will cost you $70/pax for 1-way and $108/pax for the roundtrip.

What is the best time to visit Desaru?

The best months to visit Desaru are between June and October when the weather is neither too hot nor too rainy. Avoid going from November to February which is the monsoon season.

How long do you need to explore Desaru?

The ideal length of stay would be a long weekend of 3 days and 2 nights so you can properly enjoy your beach resort and explore the activities.

For more things to do in Malaysia, check out:

A portion of this content may contain referral links to products. However, all opinions remain our own.
First published on 10th July 2022. Last updated by Aditi Kashyap on 8th December 2023.

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