What to Do in Desaru in 24 Hours: A Weekend Guide

24 Hours in Desaru Coast, Johor: What to See, Do, and Eat

Your weekend in Malaysia just got a whole lot better!

The coastal town of Desaru located along the east coast of Johor Bahru is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life that we are oh-so familiar with. With this leisure haven located just an hour’s drive from JB, one could easily add this itinerary to their weekend getaway to Malaysia.

The spacious 4,000-acre resort town hosts six kilometres of pristine beaches that offer a myriad of recreational activities for all ages. From exhilarating aquatic motorsports, to getting in touch with nature, this quaint destination could be the highlight of your next trip to Johor. If you are thinking of what to do in Desaru worry not as this guide has you covered.

desaru coast

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There are ample ways to make the short trip from Singapore to Desaru. If you were already planning for a weekend in JB, it is a short one-hour drive from the city centre to the beach resorts. Alternatively, one can take the direct ferry route that opened in July 2022.

That said, this 24-hour Desaru itinerary will give you a snapshot of the refreshing attractions and activities to make the most of your stay. 

Day 1 | Morning

8.30am to 11am: Start the day with some excitement

jet ski

Image credit: Anol Bhattacharya

Assuming you took the 8.30am ferry from Tanah Merah to Desaru, you can expect to be at Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal by 10am. The first thing to do is head down to the coast and get your adrenaline pumping with a variety of water sports. From riding jet skis to wakeboarding, thrill seekers are in for a treat. Families fret not as there are other leisure activities such as sailing, cycling, and mangrove tours that allow you to soak up the vibrant Desaru attractions.

Day 1 | Afternoon

11am to 1pm: Dig into a seafood feast

After engaging in some heart-racing excitement, one’s stomach might be crying out for sustenance. The next stop on this Desaru itinerary is to enjoy a delectable and fresh seafood meal with a host of restaurants that give you a perfect view of the sea such as Nelayan Seafood By The Coast

One could also take advantage of a great deal from Desaru Coast and enjoy a free flow of grilled seafood from Sea.Fire.Salt. Be spoiled for choice with their award-winning wine menu, too! As you sit back and enjoy a cool glass of wine by the beach, don’t forget to complement your drink with some dessert.

Day 1 | Mid-Afternoon

1pm to 3pm: Take a stroll and explore the shore


Image credit: Cecil Lee

After a heavy lunch it is time to slow things down and take a lazy walk along Desaru Beach. For those with larger appetites, the beach could serve as an ideal spot for a picnic date to sit back and munch on some snacks! You can also simply read a book and take in the scenic atmosphere by yourself. One could use this free time to plan out their next course of action and what to do in Desaru in the evening.

Alternatively, health enthusiasts who want to burn off those lunch calories can go on a beach tour that explores marine life along the shore. Getting some cardio while learning about the environment is a great way to make some memories with the family. We recommend Desaru Coast to appreciate the rich ecology and the distinct geology of the coastal rocks.

Day 1 | Late afternoon

3pm to 5pm: Relive a part of history

Head over to the Muzium Nelayan Tanjung Balau or more commonly known as the Fishermen Museum and learn about the life of Malaysian fishermen. From their struggles against nature to their means of navigation, this spot is great for a museum date.  

With the museum being split into several galleries, solo travellers could spend hours here learning about traditional fishing methods and the shipwrecks that occurred in the vicinity. Additionally, there is an expansive green area right outside which is popular with travel groups for activities such as volleyball and kite flying.

Day 1 | Evening

5pm to 7pm: Enjoy magnificent views of the landscape

desaru coast

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By now, it should be close to 5pm if you spent ample time engaging in the fun and leisure of this picturesque coastal town. The only ferry back to Singapore departs at 5.30pm but we recommend that you spend the night in Desaru to truly unwind and make a memorable weekend.

This is a great opportunity to add a new sport to your list if you have no golf experience. The Els Club has package deals that cater to a plethora of golfers to practise your strokes while basking in splendid views of the forests and lakes. With a variety of courses to choose from, your Desaru itinerary gives you this great hangout for friends to have some laughs while enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Day 1 | Night

7pm to 9pm: Indulge in some local favourites

desaru food

Image credit: alexxis

As the day nears its end, one can feel satisfied knowing that their itinerary has covered a nice blend of Desaru’s attractions and nature. Dinner options are abundant in the town of Kota Tinggi, with Tadpole Cafe, Istanbul Kebab House, and Kafe Ikhwan being some of the popular choices amongst locals and tourists alike.

Day 1 | Late night

9pm to 11pm: Immerse in nature at the Firefly Park

desaru firefly

Image credit: xenmate

With dinner sorted one might think that the day is done and the temptation to head to a hotel room is strong. Resist the urge to turn in early and you will be rewarded with an amazing experience. After a fun-filled day of sights and activities, it’s time to wind down and experience nature at night. And what better way to close the day than with a firefly tour at Kota Tinggi Firefly Park

The peaceful riverboat ride is a mesmerising experience to catch hundreds of fireflies illuminating the night sky. The absence of city lights further adds to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be attuned to nature and create great memories with that special someone! 

Day 2 | Early morning

6am to 8.30am: Embark on a short hike

desaru attractions

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As the sun rises, a morning walk with friends or family is the perfect way to cap off your 24 hours in Desaru. Head over to Gunung Panti and explore the hills around the Kota Tinggi district. The hiking trail is roughly seven kilometres long and winds its way through the marvellous forest reserve where flora and fauna are plentiful. As this trail is slightly challenging for beginners, you should set aside around two hours if you want to cover the entire route. 

Pro tip: The hike takes you through thick forests, so remember to bring insect repellent and sufficient water!

Day 2 | Morning

8.30am to 10am: Grab a delicious breakfast

desaru food

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After working up an appetite, it is time to bring this trip to a close with a traditional Malaysian breakfast at Okid Kopitiam. With dishes such as curry noodles, toast, eggs, and a variety of Malaysian classics, one will be spoilt for choice. Have a succulent meal and enjoy some good company at this rustic restaurant!

Also read: Top Things to Do in Desaru, Malaysia

As you finish this 24-hour itinerary, you can rest assured that the question of what to do in Desaru has been thoroughly answered. With activities and attractions for all ages, look no further for your next weekend getaway. The coastal town of Desaru is a must-visit and we guarantee that your first visit will leave you wanting more.

Featured image credit: M.Fildza Fadzil | Unsplash

About Author

Sarvaesh Mohan

Sarvaesh is always on the lookout for the next adventure and loves to get his adrenaline pumping. When he's taking a break from travel, he loves to play video games and watch historical documentaries.