The island was formerly known as Pulau Babi Besar – Big Boar Island – due to the wild boar that used to roam freely here, but of which there now remains no trace. A legend of a couple that turned into mermaids after eating an enchanted kind of seaweed is still told here, and some say that the nibble marks that appear on the rocks at low tide is their doing. In recent years, this island has become famous as the location for the Scandinavian reality show Expedition Robinson, where contestants are stranded on a remote island and have to fend for themselves while competing for a cash prize.
Only thirty minutes by boat from the coastal town Mersing, Pulau Besar (Big Island) is a surprisingly beautiful and tranquil hideaway. Nature has endowed it with everything that you would imagine an idyllic tropical island should have – powdery white beaches, lush green jungle and turquoise waters dotted with coral reefs and teeming with marine life.
Apart from the handful of resorts, the island’s hundred or so inhabitants live in the remnants of the fishing villages scattered along the shoreline. With no boars to watch out for and no competitions to win (except say, for a game of beach volleyball) holidaymakers are assured of a very relaxed stay on Besar Island.To protect the prolific undersea life, Besar and the surrounding islands have been gazetted as a marine park. Snorkeling just off Besar’s shore or joining a snorkeling excursion to the surrounding islands is an excellent way to get to see the colorful marine life up close. The giant cockle – a massive type of clam – is one of the species that is commonly found in the water here. If you are looking for an accessible, quiet tropical holiday, Besar Island is a top choice.