Earlier last month we did a small road trip to the South. Our ultimate destination was the concert of Snow Patrol at Singapore, but since that falls on a Monday night, we took the opportunity to stop by Tioman island for a couple nights over the weekends.
we dived in these four sites around Tioman island
Like Pulau Aur/Dayang, the ferry to Tioman island leaves at Mersing. The ferry stops at 5 different jetties – Genting, Paya, Tekek, ABC (Air Batang), and Salang Bay.
eat, dive, and rock along the beach, what a life
Ferry fare is at RM 35 each way per person, and you need to know where you are supposed to get off. We chose Salang Bay because it’s one of the more diver friendly destinations located at northern side of the island.
The ferry ride took about an hour or so to get to the island, but since Salang Bay is the 5th and final stop, the total time spent on boat was closer to 2 hours. One word of advice: it can get very cold in the ferry, bring a jacket!
(annoyingly, Salang Bay is the first stop on the way back to Mersing, so it’s another 2 hour again…)
this is the boat we dived from, not the most glamourous but it works
Diving at most other islands in Malaysia is usually a packaged affair. You pay a single fee and accommodation, boat transfer, x number of dives, and food are all included.
At Tioman though, it is more like an ala carte menu. Ferry fare is paid separately, you get to choose a dive operator, stay at any chalet/resorts of your choice, and eat at any restaurants/food stalls on the island.
The advantage of this is that it caters to different budgets, and if you’re interested in just chilling at the beach and doing a bit of snorkeling, a 3 day 2 night stay can be had for less than 3-400 bucks. The disadvantages though, is that you need a bit of planning, and don’t get the “pay once and forget about everything” deal like you do at other islands.
yep, that’s a useful thread mill
After a bit of scouting around online, we decided to go with B&J Diving Center. They are one of the bigger dive operators at both Salang Bay and ABC Beach that will also help book resorts and secure ferry tickets, which makes our job a bit easier.
We did 4 boat dives with them, which comes up to RM 430, and since we were using our own equipment, we got a 20% discount that brought the price to RM 344. The more dives you do, the cheaper it gets. Price list is available on their website.
and a muray eel decided to swim across that blue spotted sting ray
As for accommodation, we stayed at Salang Indah Resort (RM 120/weekday – RM 135/weekend). The bed is clean, there’s hot water, but that’s all you can say about the chalet. They didn’t maintain it very well, and I think we will look into other resorts on subsequent visits even though this one is quite close to the dive center.
There are almost 10 resorts at Salang Bay (list of resorts) and prices starts at something like RM 50 for two person if you can live with cold water and no air conditioning.
hawksbill turtle has had enough with divers
At Salang Bay, or at least with B & J, dive boat departs at the jetty, which is about a good 100 meter walk from the dive center. They do have a cart and your friendly dive masters will load up the equipment and send it over to the boat. However, it does take quite a bit longer to get from dive center to being underwater.
cuttlefish kept saying “you can’t see me, you can’t see me”
Diving at Tioman is best from March till about late June/July where the water is clearest. We did it early August, and on top of that it was full moon – high tide. Hence visibility was pretty terrible. We didn’t manage to see more than 5-10 meters on our dives.
fat garoupa fish decided to sit on top of a coral
Our dive sites were Reggis Island, Sayok, Tiger Reef, and Labas, and despite the poor visibility, we did manage to see quite a bit. These are some pretty nice dive sites.
There were plenty of clown fish – we spotted False Percula Clownfish, Tomato Clownfish, and Bright Pink Skunk Clownfish vigorously defending their patch of anemone whenever my camera went close for a Kodak moment.
again, there were plenty of nemo, here’s three types of them
We also spotted a couple hawksbill turtles, a rather stealthy cuttlefish, garoupa fish, blue spotted stingrays, moray eels, bat fish, angel fish, and barracuda, and a pretty good size reef shark among other reef fish. Would have been able to get better photos if visibility wasn’t so bad.
we had a great time at tioman, I’m sure we’ll revisit sometimes
As for B & J, they are pretty decent. We had two different dive masters on our dives and they were pretty professional and attentive to details. The pre-dive briefings were comprehensive, and each DM didn’t have to take care of more than 4-5 divers. Our experience with them was a positive one, and it’s very likely that we dive with them next time around.
I’ll talk about food at Salang Bay some other time. Need another holiday!