As a Malaysian, it is pretty embarrassing to say that I have never heard of Sibu Island (known locally as Pulau Sibu) until recently. Most of us locals usually head to the more popular islands on the east coast of Malaysia like Redang, Perhentian and Tioman. Pulau Sibu on the other hand, is more popular with the Singaporeans– this is because it is the closest Malaysian island to the country, which makes it easier to access for a quick getaway.
I visited Pulau Sibu at the start of the opening season (most resorts on Malaysia’s east coast close for the monsoon season from October to March yearly) with my cousin brother, Paul, who was visiting from the UK. We stayed at the Sea Gypsy Village Resort.
Pulau Sibu is situated off the coast of Mersing, Johor Bahru, the southernmost state of Peninsular Malaysia. It is actually a cluster of islands, with Sibu Besar (Big Sibu) being the main island. Sibu Besar is about 6km long and 1km wide, and is mostly covered by jungles and vegetation. There is a small fishing village on the island, as well as several resorts scattered around its beaches.
The Sea Gypsy Village Resort is located on the north eastern side of Pulau Sibu, on the beach facing the South China Sea. Opened since 1992, it occupies 5 acres of jungle clearing, which gives it plenty of wide open spaces. The resort’s cozy wooden and atap Malay-style chalets are built in a semi-circle around a large piece of land covered by beautiful coconut and casuarina trees.
Arriving at Sea Gypsy Village
It was a leisurely 5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to the jetty at Tanjung Leman, and we arrived 2 hours early for our scheduled boat ride to Pulau Sibu at 2pm (arranged by the resort). There are a couple of small Malay stalls in the main building of the jetty, as well as a KFC outlet– so we had lunch while waiting for the time to pass.
The sea was extremely rough with high waves when we left the jetty about 2.30pm (some guests were late so we had to wait for them). The half hour ride on the speed boat was extremely bumpy, wet and windy– and by the time we arrived at the island, we were soaked through!
It is best to wear slippers when arriving at Pulau Sibu– we had to jump into the water to get to shore. The Sea Gypsy Village speedboat stops at the beach facing the mainland, and we had to walk about 10 minutes along a marked jungle path to the other side of the island, where the resort lies. The friendly staff who met us at the beach helped transport our bag using wheelbarrows.
The Sea Gypsy Village Experience
One of the reasons why Paul and I decided to stay at the Sea Gyspy Village was because of its Dive Center, also known as Dan’s Nasty Divers. Being an avid diver (and my excited cousin who hasn’t been diving for 10 years), we were planning to spend most of our time underwater. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favor throughout our stay, and we only managed to slot in one dive (with terrible visibility). That kinda put a damper on our holiday, but Pulau Sibu somehow managed to make up for it.
So instead of diving– we spent our days lazing by the gorgeous beach, exploring the island, trekking through the jungle, and having sun-downers in the evening. Our all-inclusive (chalet, boat transfers, and all meals except drinks) stay at Sea Gypsy Village for 4 days and 3 nights cost us approximately RM850 (~US$200) per person.
I absolutely adored the Malay-style wooden chalets. We stayed in the small chalet with 2 single beds; but there are also larger 2 bedroom chalets, catering for families and group of friends. The amenities in the chalets are pretty basic– fan, towels, linen, soap and mosquito nets are provided. There are no locks to the doors, only a simple bolt. I have to say the best feature of these wooden chalets on stilts is that I didn’t have to worry about walking into the chalet with sand on my feet– I could get rid of it by sweeping them through the cracks on the floor.
I loved waking up to the sound of the ocean and the cooling breeze gently blowing through my open window every morning. I would then head out to the verandah, sit on the rattan chair, and admire the beautiful view in front of me– swaying coconut trees, golden sand, turquoise blue sea and sky. Bliss!
The Sea Gypsy Village is a pretty self-sufficient resort, with its own drinking water straight from the tap by way of a nearby well. The resort has its own restaurant– for the all-inclusive room and board packages; breakfast and lunch are buffet spreads, while dinner is served on individual tables. The bar is complete as well, with cocktails, beer and wine. Most of the staff at the Sea Gypsy Village are foreigners (gap year students and recent graduates) and they were extremely friendly and sociable. We had interesting conversations over drinks at night.
The dive center, Dan’s Nasty Divers is a fully equipped dive base. It offers equipment for rent, fun dives; and snorkeling, fishing and trail excursions. Sea Gypsy Village is also a children-friendly resort with its own Kid’s Club— there are lots of activities organized for the little ones, and they have their own little space and movie room. The Kid’s Club is located at the back of the resort, so the adults are still able to get their peace and quiet.
The Sea Gypsy Village faces an approximately 350 meters long beach, overlooking the South China Sea with a lovely view of the neighboring Pulau Tinggi. On either side of the beach are rocks with colorful shades of dark red and green patterns. They are backed by steep cliffs and formed by the layers of volcanic ash from the volcano that used to make up the island.
The beach itself is blessed with beautiful golden sand that continues out to sea, which makes the waters pretty shallow– so it is suitable for swimming, snorkeling and shore dives. During my visit the waves were extremely strong– and I had trouble trying to swim against it as it constantly knocked me over. So instead, I started my day witnessing the gorgeous sunrise from the beach; and then spending the rest of it sleeping on the sun-benches scattered around the resort.
At the End of the Day
The Sea Gypsy Village Resort is private, secluded and quiet. The resort exudes a peaceful and relaxing vibe, and is a great runaway spot to get away for a little while. The internet is limited, there’s hardly anyone around, and Pulau Sibu itself is less commercialized than the other islands on the east coast of the Malaysian peninsular. It’s a great place for families too– activities for the children are covered, and the adults have all the time for themselves.
I had a great time at the Sea Gypsy Village. I loved waking up every morning to the beach right outside my door… and then whiling the day away under the sun doing absolutely nothing. If there is one way to experience island life, this would be it. I will definitely visit Pulau Sibu again to enjoy all that, but most importantly, to dive!
Of course, there are other fun things to do around Sibu Island as well, you can read all about it here:- Mynn’s Top 10 Things to Know About a Holiday in Pulau Sibu.
Sea Gypsy Village Resort and Dive Base
Where: Pulau Sibu (northeast), 86800 Mersing, Johor, Malaysia.