With nearly 50% of the country's annual visitors coming across the bridges from Singapore it is little wonder that Johor Bahru is beginning to really taking seriously the potential growth the tourism industry can deliver to the state.
A plethora of water sports can be enjoyed at Desaru Beach including snorkelling, water-skiing, canoeing, wind-surfing and sailing.
Other forms of recreation include learning to fly an ultra-light aircraft, go-karting, jungle trekking, horseback riding, archery and off-road 4x4 adventures.
Johor National Parks
With the amazing biodiversity of Malaysia it is unsurprising to learn that it has been selected as one of the twelve mega-diversity countries in the world.
With forestation at 60% of its land mass Malaysia has elevated large swathes of these jungles to National Park Status and Johor has been blessed with many of these places of natural beauty.
Managed by the Johor National Parks Corporation the Endau-Rompin Johor National Park is set in 49,000 hectares of virgin lowland tropical rainforest and is a stunningly beautiful example of the natural beauty bestowed upon Johor state.
Gunung Ledang, Tanjung Piai (mangrove), Pulau Kukup (Ramsar listed site), Mersing Islands (marine park), Gunung Panti, Sungai Pulai (Ramsar site), Sg Sedili Besar and Sg Sedili Kecil are the other national parks of Johor.
As you can see Johor tourism has a lot to offer the discerning traveller and is well worthy of consideration as a travel destination.
The Johor Marine Park
The Johor Marine Park consists of 15 paradisal islands of outstanding natural beauty and they can all be accessed via a short boat trip from the jetty in Mersing, Johor.
Pulau Aur is situated about 65km off the east coast of Johor and with its magnificent lagoons, corals, crystal clear emerald green waters and colourful marine life it is easy to understand why it has been designated a government protected area as part of the Johor marine park.
The cloister of islands surrounding Pulau Aur includes Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lang and Pulau Pinang, together with Pulau Pemanggil some 15km northwest they all display similar characteristics of thick forestation, deep crystal clear waters, healthy coral reefs, shipwrecks and an abundance of colourful sea creatures of various sizes.
Towards the south east of Pulau Aur are the pinnacles which start at 10m and slope downwards to 30m. The sealife around this coral is stunningly spectacular in the extreme, you can encounter jacks, fusiliers, barracudas and black tip sharks. Amongst the hard corals and sprinkling of soft corals are wrasses, puffer fish, damsels, lionfish, snappers and in between rocky crevices lobsters.
The calm waters between Pulau Aur and Pulau Dayang is a haven for the yachting fraternity and in the deeper waters outside the snorkelling and dive areas fishermen try their luck chasing Marlin and Sailfish.
Towards the northern end of Pulau Dayang is Rayners Rock which is a few hundred metres off shore and breaks the surface by about 4m. The eastern side of Pulau Dayang furnishes a mixture of both hard and soft corals providing shelter for a profusion of marine life. You can expect to encounter schooling yellowtails, rainbow runners, and trevallies. Closer to the reef groupers, damsels, butterfly fish, scorpion fish and lots of shells can be observed in their crystal clear natural habitat.
Another unspoilt paradise island off Johors eastern coast is Pulau Sibu (Sibu Island), located just 12km off the mainland peninsula it can be accessed from the picturesque jetty at Tanjung Leman. The palm fringed idyllic island is 6km long and 1km wide, it is bestowed with lush tropical vegetation and is noted for its pristine white beaches, hills, cliffs and exotic bird population.
The tranquility and preserved natural beauty makes this South China Sea exotic island the perfect getaway from the hectic lifestyle of the big city. The eastern coast of Sibu sees the majority of its resorts located on the sugary white sandy beaches that are all minutes away from the stunning corals waiting to be explored.
Sibu is another cloister of islands consisting of Sibu Besar Island, Sibu Tengah Island, Sibu Kukus Island and Sibu Hujung Island.
This Pulau Sibu area has been designated as a marine park by the state government, it boasts hard coral reefs and is well known among snorkelling and scuba diving enthusiasts from neighbouring Singapore and Europe.
Sibu Islands have the accolade of being the location of choice for the filming of the Robinson Survivor series of programmes for the Scandinavian television market resulting in an influx of visitors from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. The filming (now in its 5th series) took place on Sibu Kukus and Sibu Besar although the film crew all stayed on Sibu Tengah.
Other popular islands off the Johor coast include Pulau Rawa famed for its coral white sands, tall palm trees, coral reefs and colourful fish, Pulau Upeh, Pulau Hujong, Pulau Lima and Pulau Tinggi. Every one of these islands can be deemed a tropical paradise and they all boast world class dive and snorkelling areas.
Pulau Kukup is an interesting island with a difference in that it is one the largest uninhabited mangroves in the world. It is also the only one situated in Johor waters not far from Johor Bahru.
Pulau Kukup has been granted the status of a 'Wetland of International Importance' (RAMSAR site) by the Geneva based Ramsar Convention Bureau. It is protected by Johor state as it has been designated national park status.