Now that we live in Singapore we feel a bit removed from nature. Everything here is so clean and pristine. Back in the UK we would pack up our bell tent, fairy lights and all our accessories (my husband would complain but it’s got to look right, haha) and head off at a moments notice to go camping. The kids loved running around barefoot on the grass whilst making new friends and we loved connecting over a quiet drink around the campfire and having a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Last year we visited Rawa Island (see blog here) and loved the relaxation, so when hubby suggested a weekend away from Singapore I knew I wanted to try Sea Gypsy Village next. I’d heard many things about this wild little island but what attracted me most was that it’s perfectly catered for kids to kick off their shoes and run free.
We started our journey on their organised bus transfer from Singapore, which was actually a luxury people carrier with in-transport movies and a friendly driver. We were off to a good start and driving through all the palm plantations up to Mersing.
Tip: Take snacks, water and even maybe lunch for the journey as it can take up to 3 hours.
We were then dropped off a Mersing Harbour. I didn’t actually know that there are two harbours in Mersing and but this was the smaller one. We had to stop and buy Marine Park passes, you’ll need cash for this. There are a couple of food outlets and some snack shops if you’re running low on fuel.
We didn’t have to wait long before we were whisked into a speed boat for a boat ride of a lifetime. I’d made sure we were all wearing shorts as I knew we were getting off into the water at the other end, but I wasn’t prepared for the waves that day and the soaking we all got. It was such fun. All our luggage was covered by a protective sheet so stayed nice and dry. Pleased to say our journey back was much more sedate.
Tip: Wear shorts and waterproof shoes. My Saltwater sandals have been brilliant for travelling.
One thing which saddened me on the boat ride over was all the beautiful secluded beaches which were swamped in sea rubbish. Mainly plastic bottles. I still can’t believe that only 70 years after the invention of plastic that we’re reaching such a critical level of pollution. But that aside when we rounded the last corner the crew from Sea Gypsy Island were waiting for us with big warm welcome and a cool pineapple juice.
They’re really relaxed on the island, we were told our hut number and that we could make our way over, settle in and then go to check in whenever we felt ready. Now that’s a service I could get used to. The team then shuttle your luggage over to your hut in wheelbarrows. (We had hut V2 which has good views and not far from the bar)
The hut was a little wooden room with an ensuite shower room and a cute verandah with some rattan chairs to relax in. We were lucky that ours had a direct view over the sea. The island is so safe that none of the huts have keys/locks and just a simple catch on the door. I must admit my OCD struggled with this a little, but everything was fine. The beds have military grade mosquito nets over them and we had a double bed and a bunk bed in our room. There was a simple shelf and hanging rails for clothes which was plenty for our short stay.
Tip: Packing cubes help us keep our clothes organised.
I’m the first to admit that after years of working in the homewares industry that I’m fussy when it comes to towels and linens, so I took our own bath and beach towels. But there were plenty of towels in the hut. We had a bit of a shock the first night we went to bed when the beds were covered in bits of dirt, but the team explained to us that this was due to the high winds and bits had dropped off the inside of the roof and that they’ve now put a nighttime bed check into their staff routine.
Something to note is that there is no aircon or hot water in the huts and to be honest this was the thing I was most worried about, but I actually got cold with the ceiling fan on and the shower water was actually a pleasant temperature. I like the odd mod con so a little bowl to wash the sand off your feet before you go into the hut would’ve made a magic addition.
Tip: Pack your own shampoo/conditioner/hairdryer, they supply the shower gel/soap.
We settled in really quickly into Sea Gypsy Village life, there is no wifi (apart from in the office) which was a real welcome break. All the huts do have plugs though so you can charge things if you need to. Sitting and reading a book, listening to the kids playing around camp and the waves lapping at the shore is good for the soul.
The real highlight of this island is the kids club. Each night all the kids are invited to eat together around one big table at 6pm. The lady who heads this up was amazing. Each kid was made to feel so welcome, and the parents get to head to the bar or the beach and enjoy a cocktail, or two. After dinner the crew take the kids off to play games and then for a movie in the kid’s den. After spending all day indulging the kids with our attention it was quite nice to sit, read a book and then eat dinner just the two of us.
The food is really good at Sea Gypsy Island. Breakfast was a simple buffet with a good selection of fresh fruit and all my kid’s favourites. Lunch again was a hot buffet and they did a special option for me, being gluten free and veggie. Dinner is kept simple with one thing on the menu for starter, main and desert. But it was tasty and hot. Saturday night was a sumptuous bbq on the beach.
The Sea Gypsy Village Resort team put on a great list of daily excursions to get you out and exploring. I can’t sit still on a holiday and love to see the local culture wherever we go. So we took part in the snorkelling trip, which actually involved a boat trip. The only downside to this was that we were in sea lice season and got stung quite a few times (we went in July). Our guide Margo explained that the sea lice protect fish eggs and if you enter their protective zone you’ll get stung.
We also did a walk to the local Kampong (Malay word for village) which involved scrambling over rocks, walking along the beach, through the jungle and back to camp by boat. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the local village, like we did when we were in Borneo. But the manager did share with me that they’ve tried to do this but the locals like to keep themselves to themselves, which is understandable. There are heaps of other activities everyday like, kids pirate club, diving, sup boarding, kayaking and more.
Tip: Check the board in the dining room to see what’s on that day.
The beaches are pretty but there is rubbish which washes up daily. I always take part in #2minutebeachclean whenever we’re on a beach. The resort we went to in Borneo had a team of three working full time on keeping the beach clean. This is part of a bigger problem worldwide but the staff here need all the help from guests which they can get. They also recycle all the rubbish they collect which is really admirable. I’d love to see them creating art or making dog leashes out of the fishing rope which gets washed up.
Tip: Speak to the staff and they’ll furnish you with the right equipment for a beach clean.
I’m not sure what more I can say about this little island of Pulau Sibu, if you’re looking to unplug from the madness of Singapore and let the kids run wild whilst you unwind this is the perfect island for you. As I mentioned before the staff are all passionate, friendly and will make you feel like part of the family.
Address: Pulau Sibu, Mersing, 83888, Johor
Tel: +60 7 222 8642