Drive less, surf more
Desaru is the closest surfing beach to Singapore by both distance and travelling time. Yet, it can be a tricky place to reach for surfers not owning a car. This misfortune must be seen as an advantage: the budget saved on car ownership can be utilised for several trips to the surf destinations around Singapore!
The Johor River bridge have shortened the trip to Desaru, but the chances of congestion remain high at both Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints. Checking the traffic conditions on LTA website does not really help going faster either. During peak times, crossing the border takes over an hour. And once in Johor Bahru, it is not a done deal.
Congestion on Johor Causeway is always part of the trip on weekends and public holidays. After the Johor River bridge, the highway ends with a traffic light with cars queueing (Photos: The New Paper / Singasurf)
Using the ferry route to Desaru not only saves time as you cut the distance: it is also cheaper and safer (Photos: Google Maps / Singasurf)
A quick boat ride away
The quickest way to Desaru's surf spots is the ferry route, completed by a taxi ride. There are two types of boat operators connecting Singapore to Desaru on a daily basis:
- Bumboats from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Pengerang: more fun to ride than the ferry, those boats are not the best choice as they take a longer route to the southern tip of Johor.
- Ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor: the scheduled ferry operated by Limbongan Maju is fast and reach to the closest ferry terminal to the surf spots of Desaru.
Going on a boat trip always gives that unique feel of remote surf destination (Photos: Singasurf)
Hit the beach by 11:00am
The ferry generally leaves with 10-15mn delay. On both Singapore and Malaysia sides, immigration clearance is fast. So the key is to jump in a taxi as soon as you exit the ferry terminal. Taxis can be ordered once in Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal, but it takes 20 to 40mn to come. To avoid waiting time, the best is to book in advance (i.e. a day before) or to arrange a transport with one of the local surf guides (e.g. Anchoviz or Bigfoot).
If all goes well, you'll have already surfed for two hours before lunch time! To recharge before the next session, Tanjung Balau has a few restaurants serving clean, tasty and filling local food. If you plan to go to more isolated surf spots, bring your own food and drinks for the day.
Welcome to Malaysia, where good surf and good food await! (Photos: Singasurf)
If nothing in sight but nature, better pack your own food and drinks (Photos: Singasurf)
Surf trip schedule: 4 hours of surf
- 09h00-09h30: Check-in and immigration clearance at Changi Ferry Terminal
- 09h30-10h00: Ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal
- 10h00-11h00: Transport from Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal to Desaru surf beach
- 11h00-13h00: SURF SESSION
- 13h00-14h00: Lunch
- 14h00-17h00: SURF SESSION
- 17h00-18h00: Transport from Desaru surf beach to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal
- 18h00-18h30: Check-in and immigration clearance at Tanjung Belungkor Terminal
- 18h30-19h00: Ferry from Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal to Changi Ferry Terminal
Follow the locals
Surfing alone or in a group, it is always nicer and safer to follow the friendly local surfers. The best way to get to know who's in the zoo is to organise the trip with a local Desaru surf guide. If you still want to find your way on your own, contact Singasurf to get in touch with a local taxi driver.
What it costs
- Return ferry ticket: SGD 39 per passenger
- Taxi from Tanjung Belungkor to Tanjung Balau: MYR 75 ~ SGD 25
- Surf guiding / surf lesson - please contact Desaru's surf school:
Anchoviz - Sari: +60 13 706 9029
Bigfoot - Shahir: +60 17 7498332