Bored of Bali? Add this destination to your list. We've got all the deets on fun activities and hotel stays in Desaru.
Looking for a fun weekend getaway destination for the next public holiday? You’ve gotta head down to this sweet coastal town in Malaysia. The fun destination is full of exciting activities and attractions. Think thrilling water sports and even Malaysia’s largest ostrich farm. We spill the beans on what to do and the best resorts to stay at when you’re in Desaru.
How to get there
There are three easy ways to get to there from Singapore: public transport, car and ferry. If you’ve got your own vehicle, it’s just an hour’s drive from Johor Bahru City Centre. If not, all you’ve gotta do is take a bus into JB at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. Hire a Grab from there to take you.
Not a fan of long bus or car rides? No problem. Just board the new ferry service to Desaru at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. It’s a 90-minute ferry ride that costs a little over $100 for a two-way trip. Do take note round trips are only available once a day between Thursdays to Sundays.
What to do in Desaru
1. Kota Tinggi Firefly Park
Unfortunately, we don’t get the magical sight of fireflies in Singapore. However, pop by this firefly park and you’ll be in for an absolute treat. When the sun sets for the day, head out to Kota Tinggi Firefly Park where you’ll board a boat. This area is a breeding ground for fireflies, making it the perfect habitat. Just remember to make a reservation because there are only a handful of spots available for walk-ins.
Kota Tinggi Firefly Park, Jalan Kota Tinggi, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
2. Desaru Ostrich Farm
This isn’t any old animal farm. This is Malaysia’s largest ostrich farm – we’re talking over 200 ostriches roaming around its grounds. If you have a keen interest in these magnificent flightless birds, you’ve gotta stop by. You’ll pick up a ton of educational ostrich facts, participate in feedings, and maybe even get a chance to ride one!
Desaru Ostrich Farm, Jalan Telok Ramunia, Kampung Changi, 81600 Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia
3. Desaru Beach
Thrillseekers, this one’s for you. Take a walk along Desaru Beach and you’ll find plenty of operators offering water sports activities like parasailing, wakeboarding, banana boating and more. Hot tip: compare prices with the various operators before deciding. If you’re really not into exhilarating adventures out at sea, just lay back and relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand.
Desaru Beach, 81600, Bandar Penawar, Johor
4. Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast
Is it really a fun getaway if you don’t go to a waterpark? Pack your favourite swimsuits and sunscreen, and head to Adventure Waterpark. Aside from over 20 thrilling rides, you’ll get to hop on the first-ever water coaster in the region. Plus, take a dip in one of the world’s biggest wave pools.
Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast, 82200 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia
5. Tanjung Balau Fishing Village
For old-school kampung vibes, you’ve gotta swing by Tanjung Balau Fishing Village. This destination is relatively tourist-free, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to escape the crowds. Order a delish seafood feast at one of the local restaurants, take in breathtaking sunsets at the beach, and visit the fishermen’s museum close by.
Tanjung Balau Fishing Village, Tanjung Balau Fishing Village, 81930 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
6. Desaru Fruit Farm
Love fresh fruit, fruit juice and fruit salads? Come and pick your own fruits at this farm. It has everything from dragonfruit to soursop to mango. There’s even an animal petting farm for you to get up close and personal with goats, rabbits and more. Talk about a true countryside vacay!
Desaru Fruit Farm, 92, 82200 Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
7. Desaru Coast daycation and staycation packages
Don’t have time to plan vacay pit stops? That’s no biggie. Leave your itinerary in the hands of Desaru Coast Destination Resort. Its properties include One & Only Desaru Coast, Anantara Desaru Coast Resorts & Villas, The Westin Desaru Coast Resorts, and Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast. You can sign up for myriad daycation and staycation packages for a stress-free weekend getaway. Pick from different themes like nature-centric, edutainment, or sports activities.
Desaru Coast daycation and staycation packages, multiple locations available
Best resorts and hotels in Desaru
8. Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas
Anantara Desaru Coast is touted as one of Malaysia’s finest resorts. Sip on a sundowner at Observatory Bar for great vibes and views of the beach. Or, if you’ve got the moolah to spare, book the beachfront residence that comes with your own private pool. Our favourite activity? Watching movies under the stars at its very own outdoor cinema.
Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, Persiaran Pantai, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor Darul Tazim
9. Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort
For the perfect resort getaway, this is the hotel of choice for family-friendly activities and corporate retreats. You’ll get access to sea sports like jet skiing and parasailing, or high ropes adventure courses for yourself and the young’uns. But one of the things we enjoy the most has gotta be luxuriating in a signature treatment at Sarang Spa.
Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort, Bandar Penawar, 81930, Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
10. Amerald Resort Hotel
Amerald Resort Hotel is set near lush nature and features 251 luxury rooms and 13 suites for your choosing. Looking for fun activities? There are tons of things to do like e-karting, archery, ziplining and more. Not to mention, it has its own mini waterpark with two splash slides for the adrenaline junkies.
Amerald Resort Hotel, Lot 1231 Jalan Kg Punggai, Sungai Rengit, Pengerang, Malaysia
11. The Westin Desaru Coast Resort
If you’re looking for a hotel that prioritises wellness, this place offers an array of healthy, inventive dishes at its dining destinations. Plus, holistic spa treatments that’ll soothe your weary body. The beautiful sanctuary also offers a stunning view of sparkling coastal waters from its rooms!
The Westin Desaru Coast Resort, Desaru Coast, Jalan Pantai 3, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia
Pack your bags and book a trip to the fun coastal town of Desaru!
[This article was originally published in 2022 and updated in 2023 by Ashe Liao.]