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10 Things To Do In Desaru – Giant Water Theme Park, Firefly Spotting & Biggest Ostrich Farm In M’sia

Things to do in Desaru

Mention Johor to anyone and there’s a 99% chance that Johor Bahru city comes to mind. But just an hour’s drive away from JB lies Desaru, a getaway town located along the state’s east coast. From seaside glamping to fun water parks for the kiddos, here are some things to do in Desaru for your next weekend trip. 

*If you’re not driving, check out our guide on the Desaru Link Ferry Services from Singapore.

1. Have a go at 20 rides at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark

10 Things To Do in Desaru Kraken's RevengeLoop through 360 degrees at Kraken’s Revenge before you plunge back to shore – definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Back home, we have Adventure Cove and Universal Studios for a day’s worth of fun. Combine both thrills at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, where you can get your swimsuits on and unleash your inner wild child at the 20 attractions found onsite. 

10 Things To Do in Desaru The Tempest

Among the exciting rides is The Tempest, a 55ft-long tube and funnel slide that ejects you out onto a 24ft drop and sends you swirling around on a float. You’ll definitely need to hold on to the float handles as the slide sends you spinning in all directions at high speeds. 

Book an outing to Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark.

Rates: From RM110/adult, ~S$33.20 | From RM110/child & senior, ~S$33.20Address: Persiaran Pantai, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: 10am-6pm, DailyContact: +60 3-2203 9696 | Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark website

2. Go on a walking tour along Desaru Beach

Desaru BeachImage credit: @elainelaineee

Of course, no resort vacay is complete without a trip to the beach. Enter Desaru Beach, where you get to enjoy picnics and loads of beach bummin’ fun. 

Things to do in Desaru - Desaru BeachImage credit: Klook

There’s also much to learn about marine life here. You’ll find many unique creatures on the shore during low tide, and even get to encounter sea creatures like brittle stars and barnacles while being led by a local tour guide.

Book a Desaru Beach and Tide Pool Walking Tour.

10 Things To Do in Desaru Dash Watersports

Desaru Beach is also the place to go if you’re looking to indulge in some watersports. The beach behind the Westin hotel is home to an outlet of Dash Outdoors, the facilitator of water sports activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and thrilling towed rides like Banana Boat.

Address: 81600 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

3. Hang out with 100 ostriches at Desaru Ostrich Farm 

Desaru Ostrich Farm Image credit: Desaru Ostrich Farm

In case you missed out on your primary school science lessons, here’s a fun fact: ostriches lay the biggest eggs on the planet. Even better, you might just get to see them hatch at Desaru Ostrich Farm, home to over 200 ostriches.

Apart from getting up close to the creatures, you will also be able to get tidbits of info about them from the tour guides onsite. Yummy meals are also served, where you can have a taste of ostrich-themed dishes in the form of omelette (RM10, ~S$3.02), bak kut teh (RM25, ~S$7.56) and even teppanyaki (RM25, ~S$7.56).

Rates: RM20/adult, ~S$6.05 | RM15/child ~S$4.53Address: Jalan Telok Ramunia, Kampung Changi, 81600 Pengerang, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: 10am-6pm, DailyContact: +60 7-826 5846 | Desaru Ostrich Farm website

4. Explore the wild side of Desaru with a mangrove tour

10 Things To Do in Desaru Mangrove TourImage credit: Junglewalla Desaru

Desaru may be known for its pristine beaches, but it also has a vast mangrove and swamp ecosystem home to a wide array of wildlife – perfect for nature lovers. 

One such place is Sedili, a fishing village that sits within the swamp 35 minutes away by car from the coast. Those interested in visiting the place can book a spot on the Sedili Wetland River Cruise operated by Junglewalla Desaru.

10 Things To Do in Desaru Mangrove Tour AnimalsImage credit: Junglewalla Desaru

For a fee of RM1,200 (~S$358.15), embark on a private boat for 8 people. That comes down to about ~S$44.80/pax, inclusive of a return transfer from Desaru Coast, the group’s own nature guide, and bottled water. 

You’ll get to visit 3 different types of mangroves and swamps that are unique to the place while discussing their impact on the environment. Do have your camera ready to snap shots of the native wildlife like kingfishers and a family of otters. 

Duration: 4 hoursTour days: Tuesdays to SundaysContact: +60 19-225 2300 | Junglewalla Desaru website

5. Learn about Johor’s fishermen at Tanjung Balau Fishing Village 

 Tanjung Balau Fishing Village Image credit: buck low

As the adage goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life. See it for yourself at Tanjung Balau Fishing Village, where you can observe fishermen live their kampung life while you enjoy a stroll along the beach.

Address:  Lembaga Bandaran Johor Tenggara, Jalan Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunus, Bandar Penawar, Johor, 81900 Kota Tinggi, MalaysiaContact: +60 7-822 8136

Tanjung Balau Fishing Village Image credit: 彭刚毅

While you’re there, look out for Tanjung Balau Fishermen Museum. This beachfront museum takes you through a learning journey of the village. Here, see exhibits of the fishermen’s boats and equipment – geology nerds can also check out close to 100 types of rocks that were once from the place. 

Address: Kompleks Pelancongan, Tanjung Balau, 81930 Kota Tinggi, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: Mon-Wed 9am-4.30pm | Fri-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Thursdays)Contact: +60 7-884 3100 | Tanjung Balau Fishermen Museum website

6. Swing clubs with a view of Desaru Coast at Els Club 

10 Things To Do in Desaru Elms Golf Club

Golf isn’t just about swinging clubs or living an atas life. At The Els Club, you’ll be able to catch a breather while enjoying the serene view of the Desaru Coast. The Els Club comprises the Ocean Course and Valley Course, where the latter was named the best golf course in the country by the World Golf Awards.

Ocean CourseRates: RM275, ~S$91.67 (Mon-Fri) | RM325, ~S$108.33 (Sat-Sun & PH)Address: No. 4 Jalan Danau, Desaru Coast, 81930 Desaru, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: 7.30am-7.30pm, DailyContact: +60 7-878 0000 | The Els Club Desaru Coast – Ocean Course website

Valley CourseRates: RM300, ~S$100 (Thu & Fri) | RM350, ~S$116.67 (Sat-Sun & PH)Address: No. 4 Jalan Danau, Desaru Coast, 81930 Desaru, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: Thu-Sun, 8.30am-5pm (Last tee off 2pm)Contact: +60 7-878 0000 | The Els Club Desaru Coast – Valley Course website

7. Go birdwatching and spot more than 90 bird species 

 birdwatching - things to do in desaruImage credit: Klook

Nature lovers can treat themselves to a 2-hour Birdwatching Experience, where you can expect to be treated to fauna native to Desaru. The highlight of the tour would definitely be the chance to spot over 90 species of birds in the area – make sure to have your binos handy. 

Suitable for both amateurs and avid birdwatchers, this tour brings you to spot the Brahminy Kite and Oriental Pied Hornbill, amongst other unique species. You can choose to go for an individual or group guide, depending on whether you prefer an intimate or more social experience. 

Book the Desaru Birdwatching Experience tour.

8. Snap IG-worthy shots at an abandoned jetty 

things to do in desaru - abandoned jetty Image credit: @diana_tkt_drssecret

We all have that inner nomad that loves to recce off the beaten tracks – we’re certain that many of us have visited these abandoned places even back home. Here, go on an adventure to Sungai Rengit Jetty, an ancient relic that now makes a charming backdrop for IG-worthy shots.

Things to do in Desaru - seafoodFeast on dishes like fried seafood.Image credit: Jade Garden Seafood Corner 翡翠园海鲜酒家

Sungai Rengi Jetty is located in a fishing village located about an hour’s drive away from the city. While in the area, have a meal at Jade Garden Seafood Corner nearby, where you can dig into fresh catch that’ll make the journey even more worthwhile.

Address: 90, 81600 Bandar Penawar, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: 9am-5pm, DailyContact: +60 17-794 5695 | Jade Garden Seafood Corner website

9. Go glamping in bubble tents at Sea Horizon Resort 

sea horizonImage credit: Sea Horizon Resort 旭日の海

You need not be in boy scouts mode to have a good time camping. Have it easy at Sea Horizons Resort, a lush glamping spot in Kota Tinggi that’s a 50-minute drive from Desaru.

All geared up with comfy beds, bathrooms and air con, you’ll be getting a hotel-tier experience that’s no doubt a one-up from typical glamping trips.

Things don’t just end there. From ATV (RM90/30 minutes, ~S$30) to kayaking (RM10/pax, ~S$3.33), look forward to a whole string of indoor and outdoor activities that’ll keep you up and moving throughout your stay.

Things to do in Desaru - sea horizon - dinosaur trailThe sights you’ll see as part of the Dinosaur Trail.Image adapted from: @aizatabdullah

Nature seekers can explore the Dinosaur Trail, which contains an underwater volcano formed millions of years ago. Else, have an upgraded breakfast in bed experience, where you can bring your meal to the balcony to enjoy the breathtaking seaside views. 

Book your stay at Sea Horizons Resort.

Rates: From RM700/night, ~S$233.30/night for the Stargazer Dome SuiteAddress: Lot 901, Kuala Sedili Besar, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor, MalaysiaContact: +60 16-720 0399 | Sea Horizons Resort website

10. DIY a lantern & spot fireflies at Kota Tinggi Firefly Park 

Kota Tinggi Firefly Park Image credit: Klook

Fairy lights do the trick in adding a dreamy aesthetic to our bedrooms, but Kota Tinggi Firefly Park takes it au naturale. Hop on a boat through Johor River and you’ll get to witness thousands of glowing fireflies captivating the scene. 

Things to do in Desaru - Kota Tinggi Firefly Park Image credit: Kota Tinggi Firefly Park

Similar to Taiwan’s Kongming lanterns, you can DIY your own lanterns here. Jot all of your wishes onto the lantern and release it into the air – you might just strike a spark and get the stars aligned to your favour.

Book a Firefly River Cruise Experience at Kota Tinggi Firefly Park.

Address: Jalan Kota Tinggi, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor, MalaysiaOpening hours: 1pm-11pm, DailyContact: +60 17-40 7775 | Kota Tinggi Firefly Park website

New & fun things to do in Desaru 2022

While JB remains the place for foodies and serial shoppers, Desaru is perfect for those of us craving a resort escapade away from the city.

With fun activities and tranquil nature hideouts, there are many things to do in Desaru that make it an easy go-to for those yearning for something more laid back. Plus, there are many well-known resorts in Desaru like The Westin and Hard Rock Hotel that you can book a cosy stay at after your day.

For more happenings in M’sia:

Things to do in PenangThings to do in KLThings to do in SabahGuide to travelling to Genting HighlandsOutdoor things to do in Kota Kinabalu

Cover image adapted from: Junglewalla Desaru, @diana_tkt_drssecret, A portion of this content may contain referral links to products. However, all opinions remain our own.First published on 10th July 2022. Last updated by Brendan Yee on 1st November 2022.


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