Desaru Itinerary, Tips, and FAQs
“ It’s like taking a flight with inflight entertainment.”
This is from my Hubby, who up till the day of the trip, thought I was crazy to book a short getaway to Desaru during the Deepavali long weekend where long unforgiving queues are expected on the causeways. But I assured him that he’s not driving and I think the eldest needed a break after the year-end exams, he good-naturedly complied…actually, he didn’t have a choice!
One-stop and Worry-free:
We seldom drive into Malaysia, due to our past (and ugly) experiences with massive traffic jams, highway bribes and risks of car thefts but a recent discovery of KLOOK’s convenient, user-friendly, one-stop website where I can book everything from having a driver drive us across the causeway and back plus pre-booking admission for all the travel experiences fit perfectly into the scheme of things.
“ Would you like to leave earlier?”
We didn’t know that having a good driver made such a world of difference. A day before our trip, the driver who was assigned to us, Mr. Sultan, connected with me via Whatsapp and suggested an earlier departure time to minimize the chances of getting stuck in the massive causeway jam, due to the Deepavali long weekend.
The drive into Malaysia was very comfortable. Our driver drove a Vellfire – a huge and luxurious MPV which comes with an entertainment system, which kept the kids entertained and made the wait at the causeway less arduous.
The Hubby – the only driver in the family, had the rare chance to sit back, rest and catch a breather as we departed for Malaysia right after work on Friday evening. Because he wasn’t driving, he was able to ‘rest’ by watching two movies downloaded from Netflix on his iPhone. A well-deserved luxury for him!
Before long, we had reached our Desaru hotel – Hard Rock Desaru Coast, in 3 hours. The husband was mightily pleased and even commented that it felt like he had just taken a short flight with inflight entertainment!
As it turns out, Desaru has so much to offer than just cheap seafood.
Here’s our 4D3N itinerary:
Day 1: Friday night – Depart for Desaru after work. Driver pick up from home at 8pm. Arrive Desaru Hotel at 11pm. Check-in, rest for the night.
Day 2: Saturday – Breakfast in Hotel. Enter Desaru Waterpark at 10am when door opens. Spend full day at the WaterPark (10am to 6pm). Head back to hotel after Waterpark closes, wash up. Book a short taxi ride to nearby Desaru Seafood Corner for dinner at 7pm. Head back to hotel after dinner and enjoy movie night in room.
Day 3: Sunday – Breakfast in Hotel. Join the Desaru Fruit Farm Tour. Pick up at 11am. Lunch at Fruit Farm (inclusive). ATV ride (top up on our own). Short visit to Crocodile Farm as part of the tour. Back to Hotel at 4.30pm for short rest. Pick up again at 6pm for Seafood Dinner (inclusive in tour) and head to Fireflies cruise. Back to Hotel at 10pm.
Day 4: Monday – Breakfast in Hotel. Spend time at Kids Club before being picked up by Driver at 12pm. Journey home and reach Singapore at 3pm.
Here’s sharing our tips and reviews of these Desaru attractions:
ADVENTURE WATERPARK DESARU COAST – Ratings and Reviews
Perhaps the most popular reason families come to Desaru is for the large adventure waterpark. We are not foreign to waterparks but I must say, this has got to be one of our family’s favorite as it has everything for all ages -from toddlers to adrenaline ‘junkies’ and even for those like me who prefer to chillax.
Every ride here is fun. Best of all, it has a large section dedicated to pre-school kids (below 122cm in height) with slides of different shapes, sizes and twists. It’s like waterpark heaven for little kids. There are also free Kampong carnival games for kids and parents to play and bond!
We’ve tried virtually every ride and rated them as follow:
1 – Don’t waste your time, try something else.
2 – Good experience but not much of a loss if didn’t try it.
3 – Good and engaging ride. Must try.
4 – Die Die must try!
A) The Kraken Water Roller-Coaster (4/4)
You can’t miss this. The short water roller coaster has exciting twist turns and G-forces and that plunge at 70km/h is really quite something. We loved this, including our 5 year-old. In total, the kids and Hubby rode this 8 times!
Another reason we love this is that the queue for waiting, even over the long Deepavali weekend, is not too long. You can go again and again, virtually back to back!
B) Tubes and Slides: The Tempest, Riptide, Super Twister and the Wild Whirl (3/4)
We decided to group these together as they essentially use the same ‘mode of thrill’ – sitting on a plastic tube and getting ‘flushed’ down long winding tubes, with the occasional steep plunge before ending in a splash.
The rides down are really fun. Next to the Kraken, these are must trys. While the thrill level is high with random high speed turns and whirls, be prepared to wait in your swimming gear for your turn, this is after you have climbed up the tall towers. Do note that there are height limits for these rides. Buddy, our 5 year-old, sadly did not meet these restrictions but he kept himself happy at the Kids Ahoy section.
C) The Surf Wall (3/4)
The surf wall is very thrilling and even a child with a minimum height of 107 cm can participate. Every patron is given two tries at the Surf Wall and the random nature of the experience makes the thrill factor strong. Do be prepared to wait as the duration depends largely on one’s skill and weight. If you are light and you can’t balance the rushing waves well with the board, you’re out even before you know it.
D) The Swinging Ship (4/4)
The kids loved this swinging ship. Next to the Kraken, they loved this the most. The level of excitement varies according to where you sit on the ship – sit in the middle if you’re a beginner or novice, edge on to the back row if you really want that ‘sinking’ feeling. To enhance your experience, try lifting your hands while swinging down. The queue for this moves fast, even during the long weekend. We were surprised Buddy likes this too!
E) Kids Ahoy (3/4)
Kudos to the Desaru Waterpark for dedicating an entire section of water slides and tubes at this corner, together with 2 water play areas, specially to preschool and younger kids who are unable to experience the larger slides and tubes. While the thrill factor is low for teens and adults, these slides and tubes are surprisingly engaging for the little ones. Both our kids had tons of fun here and we lingered around in this section for a bit.
F) Penawar River and Tidal Wave Beach (2/4)
No waterpark would be complete without a lazy river and the Penawar River, reputed to be the world’s longest lazy river, where one drifts down in a tube and watch the world float by.
The Tidal Wave Beach is reputed to be the world’s largest artificial wave beach and indeed it is huge with the occasional artificial waves rolling in. While it is awesome to see these waves as they enter, the safety distance that the lifeguards set between swimmers is a bit too far to fully experience the force of the waves. Even Dana felt a bit underwhelmed. Otherwise the spaciousness of the artificial beach makes it an ideal place to wind down after an exhilarating day.
Tips for Visiting:
Adventure Waterpark Desaru is a very good waterpark for the family as it has something for virtually everyone. Here are some tips:
- Book everything online: I booked the WaterPark admission, the Fruit Farm Tour and the 2-way Private Car Transfer all on Klook website. I am told the admission tickets at the Park itself are more expensive than those on Klook. There are generous year-end sales happening now so take advantage of these cost savings. Each booking made on Klook also comes with a free ice-cream for kids and free coffee for adults (redeemable at selected F&B outlets within the Waterpark).
- Stay near: We chose the Hard Rock Desaru Coast as it has direct access to the waterpark. Staying near allowed us to stop midday to lunch back in the hotel, as the eateries in the waterpark can be crowded with limited choice of food. It also boasts one of the better Kids Club we’ve seen in the region. Kids don’t want to leave!
- Exchange your voucher at the counter: Queue early at the admission counter of the Waterpark and exchange your Klook vouchers for an admission wristbands. The counter is manned only by 1-2 staff so the wait can be long. We advise you to get in Q early.
- Bring your own towels and drinking water: There are no towels for rental at the Waterpark but guests at Hard Rock Desaru Coast can bring the pool towels. If you prefer, just bring your own towels for cleanliness and comfort. And own drinking water.
- Wear a rash guard: It helps protect the kids (and adults) from catching the chills especially when waiting for rides.
- Prioritize your rides: Go for the popular rides first. Not only will the queues as the day wears on, they may close the rides when rain or risk of lighting surfaces.
- Play the ‘kampung’ games: During our visit, these stalls are near the Surf Wall area. The games were really fun and the staff were friendly and engaging. We enjoyed the games tremendously.
- Bring a dry bag: There are ample places to deposit your bags if you do not wish to rent a locker. Bring one big dry bag to keep your belongings as you walk from point to point in the Waterpark.
For more information, visit: https://desarucoast.com/en/Pages/Play/Adventure-Waterpark
DESARU FRUIT FARM
This is a popular fruit farm that offers visitors a guided tour of their local fruit crops with some fringe activities such as goat feeding and ATV (All-terrain Vehicle) rides. This 1 day tour (booked on Klook) comes with a guided tour of the fruit farm, a Malaysian-style buffet lunch (complete with fruits), a sumptuous seafood dinner and a fireflies tour (after dinner).
Highlights of the Fruit Farm for the kids would be:
- Sitting on a ‘vegetable lorry’: From the gathering point, visitors would be driven in a large Malaysian lorry into the farm site. Though it’s a short ride, sitting in the lorry is quite novel for the kids.
- Animal feeding: For a small fee, we were able to buy some fish food to feed the Koi fishes and ‘Kangkong’ veggie, to feed the rabbits and goats. Kids enjoyed this simple animal interaction.
- ATV (All-terrain Vehicle) Rides: In addition to the guided tour and lunch, we topped-up about RM150 for a 20-minute ride on 2 ATVs along the dirt road inside the farm. An adult must accompany young children even as our 11 year-old ‘commandeered’ her own ATV – almost like the snowmobile she has ridden in Hokkaido. I must say that it was a novel and enjoyable experience to be able to see the back end of the farm with its dusty roads, village houses and plantations.
- Learning how to reuse, recycle and repurpose common household items for crop planting. The guide even taught the kids briefly about ‘marcotting’ – a term I learnt way back in Primary School Science!
- Getting to see where familiar fruits come from, right from its source!
The Desaru Fruit Farm provides an introductory experience for families who have not been to local fruit farms. If possible, top up for the ATV ride (like we did), as it is something we hardly get to ride in Singapore!
I booked the Fruit Farm Tour on Klook. For more information on the Desaru Fruit Farm, go to: https://www.desarufruitfarm.com/
DESARU CROCODILE FARM
A short drive from the Desaru Fruit Farm is the Desaru Crocodile Farm. This farm is known to house over hundreds of large crocodiles and highlight of the visit includes a taste of Crocodile Satays.
The tour at the Crocodile Farm was mostly self-guided. Mid way through the walking tour, a staff picked up a bucket filled with chicken carcasses and proceeded to throw to the crocodiles, inciting a feeding frenzy for visitors to watch. I am not a huge fan of reptiles but the kids were quite keen to finish touring the compound.
The tour can be completed in under an hour and we went back to the entrance to be served a few sticks of croc-satay. I didn’t dare to eat it but my 5-year old Buddy said it was delicious! Granted that it is not everyday that we get to see huge crocodiles up close, so this was still an eye-opening experience for kids. Pity this wasn’t a guided tour otherwise the experience would have been far more educational.
Dinner at Nelayan Seafood Restaurant
The tour brought us to enjoy a local seafood dinner at a sea-facing seafood restaurant that serves delicious seafood meal, much like the ‘zhi char’ we would have back home. The highlight of the dinner was the delicious serving of salted egg lobsters. Portion sizes were generous and our table of 12pax could not finish all the food.
It’s a pity the skies opened to torrential downpour midway through our dinner and the fireflies tour had to be cancelled. We were kinda disappointed but consoled ourselves (and the kids) that Desaru is only a short drive away, and we can always return.
Begin with the end in mind:
Our trusty driver picked us up on time on the final day. This trip has been an eye-opener in more ways than one. Booking our trip completely online, engaging an experienced driver who navigated the long weekend traffic jams expertly really made a difference. As a family, we had time to play, bond and relax. This is what all future getaways should be like!
Desaru Adventure Coast Waterpark
Desaru Fruit Farm, Crocodile Farm & Fireflies Tour
Private Transfer between Singapore and Desaru
Book here via Klook
Please check out more of this trip on our Instagram Highlights Album ‘DIY Desaru’ and via our Hashtag #OhanaDoesDesaru.
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