Here I am, back at the computer after 4 beautiful days at Sea Gypsy. It now seems a million miles away as I listen to the hammering from renovations next door, but the relaxation I experienced will hopefully stay with me for a little while longer.
Sea Gypsy, on Pulau Sibu off the east coast of Malaysia is a truly relaxing place to go with children. They make it so easy for their guests. If you don't drive, their minibus will pick you up from Orchard Road and drive you to the ferry port south of Mersing. There the small boat will be waiting to take you on the 20 minute voyage to the island. The whole trip takes around 3 hours. When you arrive a welcome drink awaits, and as we arrived at night, there was a dinner prepared if we were hungry.
The meal times are totally non-stressful. Of course I love it that I don't have to cook, but what makes it even better is that I don't even have to decide what to eat. There is no need to order from a menu as all meals are included in the price of your room, and the food is served at a set time. Just wrap a towel around your waist, or throw a shirt on and meander over to the dining hut. I would fall out of bed at ten minutes before 8am and be eating breakfast ten minuted later.
Kids have their dinner at 6pm and the adults' dinner is served at 8pm. We found this convenient as the kids were starving by 6pm, and once they were fed we were free to enjoy a drink at the bar while they played one of the many games provided. There were lots of other children so they always had someone to play with.
The food was simple but very tasty. Mostly rice based, we ate such meals as beef with ginger and oyster sauce, sweet and sour fish, beef curry with pilau rice and poppadoms, a delicious pasta salad with prawns and crab and a huge BBQ on the Saturday night. Kids meals were simpler, but home cooked, such as fried rice, burger and chips and pasta.
Sea Gypsy is not a five star resort, and don't go expecting all the mod cons. The showers are cold water only (which happens to be perfect after a day in the sun and surf), there is nothing to cool the huts down but the sea breeze and an overhead fan, and the huts are quite rustic, with little lighting. For us, this all adds to the charm of the place although I do know people who find it a little too basic.
There is a kids' club which we didn't take advantage of as the children were perfectly happy playing on the beach. The beach is of course the real draw. In my mind it is the perfect beach for children; calm water (although close to monsoon time it can get choppy), beautiful soft white sand, and even some shady trees to hide under. The water is so clear that we could see fish swimming around our legs.
It was mainly families with small children from Singapore staying this weekend, but there is a well established diving centre attached to the resort so there are also people staying who come specifically for the diving.
We did go out for a morning snorkeling trip which was a little disappointing. The island we were taken to has become quite popular and there were a couple of large groups from other resorts sharing the small beach. The sand was also dotted with oil covered debris-clear glass bottles were caked in thick black oil, and there were clumps of tar along the tide line. Many of us ended up with smears of oil over our legs and feet. It was sad to see this once pristine part of beach showing signs of pollution.
We also walked through the jungle to the little resort called Rimba. This resort is on a beautiful beach with rocks and coral right off the beach which make it a good place to snorkel. The walk took us 20 minutes, but can take longer with smaller children or if it's been raining and there is a lot of mud around.
Overall, if you are looking for a child-friendly chill-out weekend away and you enjoy the beach, Sea Gypsy is the place. There is no pool, so you must like the salt and sand, which comes with annoying sand flies, but if you go prepared with plenty of sunscreen, mosquito repellent and a special oil which Sea Gypsy makes up for the sand flies, you wont have a problem. Enjoy it for what it is and come back replenished and ready to face whatever Singapore throws at you.
Tel: +60 7 222 8642