Where to stay and what to do

You might be thinking of going on vacation, but you’re still unsure about hopping on a plane and spending hours in an enclosed space with hundreds of strangers. If you’re more inclined to road trip somewhere closer, perhaps the Desaru Coast should be on your maps.

If you’re not already familiar with the location, the area was recently recognized as World’s Greatest Places 2021 by TIME Magazine, the only destination in Malaysia to make the list last year. Plus, it’s only a four-hour drive if you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur and less than an hour and a half from Johor Bahru, so you have no excuse not to go there.

Now you’ve come here to relax and get away from it all, but if you’re the type who needs to pack in your itinerary to feel like you’ve had a ‘fulfilling’ holiday, then the coast region of Desaru does have activities and attractions for everyone.

The Desaru Coast Adventure Water Park, for example, has five different areas for the whole family to enjoy. It is also home to wet and dry rides, which include the largest wave pool in Southeast Asia. Those who want to revel in Mother Nature’s offerings can head to Desaru Fruit Farm, home to over 120 species of tropical fruits. The award-winning location spans over 100 acres and guests can do everything from touring a fruit farm to riding an ATV in the area.

Desaru Coast Els Club
The Els Club Desaru coast (Image credit: JAMESLOVETT)

Do you have a golfer among you? The two world-class golf courses at Els Club Desaru Coast are designed by Ernie Els and four-time major champion Vijay Singh with a combined 45-hole play. Of course, no trip to the Desaru Coast will be complete without a visit to Desaru Beach. The white sand shore stretches for 25 kilometers, lined with palm trees and casuarinas.

If it seems like there’s too much to cover for a day trip, you’re pretty much right. That’s why we’ve taken the liberty of listing some of our favorite hotels and resorts in the area for your next long weekend.

(Hero and featured image credit: One&Only Desaru Coast)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore

Where to stay on the Desaru Coast:


One&Only Desaru Coast

Darul Ta’zim, Persiaran Damai, Desaru Coast Bandar Penawar, 90, 81930, Johor, Malaysia

One&Only Desaru Coast

One&Only Desaru Coast is the luxury resort brand’s first-ever property in Southeast Asia, offering a mix of 42 Junior Suites, two sprawling two-bedroom Grand Suites and an exclusive four-bedroom Villa One. You won’t miss a view no matter where you stay: all suites overlook either the soothing ocean or verdant rainforest, complete with their own private plunge pool. Along with five restaurants and bars where you can dine, guests can also swim (meaning take a ton of IG photos) in the stunning 27-meter infinity pool or get a stress-busting massage at the spa.


Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas

Persiaran Pantai, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas

Before One&Only opened in 2020, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas was one of the only luxury destinations for travelers coming to the area. The venue is home to 108 spacious rooms with wraparound balconies as well as standalone villas with private pools if you’re looking for something fancier. After check-in, soak up the warmth in the infinity pool before unwinding with a traditional Malay spa treatment and finishing with a romantic beachside dinner.


The Westin Desaru Coast Resort

Jln Pantai 3, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

The Westin Desaru Coast Resort

Sleep well, eat well and feel well. These are the values ​​that will define your stay at the Westin Desaru Coast Resort. The iconic Heavenly Bed found in every room here is a big draw for choosing to stay here, but the sparkling coastal spectacle of the sea view rooms is what takes the cake. After enjoying yourself at one of the five dining establishments, work out in the fully equipped, 24-hour gym.


Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast

Jln Pantai 3, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast

When you book a stay at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, you know you’ll have a fun musical time. The colorful interiors and friendly service are just the tip of the iceberg: the hotel is also next to one of the world’s largest water parks and overlooks the giant wave pool and a man-made beach.