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.
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!
After attending MIDE (Malaysian International Dive Expo) a few weeks prior and ended up spending quite a chunk of change on gears, Haze and I decided that a dive trip must follow. After all, the last trip was some 4 months ago at Lang Tengah.
After a bit of calling about different dive operators both in Tioman and Tenggol, we settled on diving with the operator at Tenggol Resort, the establishment situated on the far right of the beach if you are facing the island.
our resort is located at the far right of the beach
Due to schedule constraint, we only wanted a 2 day 1 night trip, and the package we got quoted was RM 580 per pax, which includes 4 guided boat dives. However, we also had to pay a RM 250 surcharge due to the fact that they had to use a 24-seat ferry to fetch just two of us from Dungun (other divers were all on the 3D2N option).
Fair enough I guess, hat made it a tad more expensive than normal for 4-dives, but we were pretty adamant on diving last weekend, so we went ahead with the arrangement anyway.
jelly fish, and note the inhabitants within it
Ferry was to depart at 8:30 am in the morning, we started our drive from PJ at around 3 in the morning and it took us about 4.5 hours including a sahur stop at highway R&R to cover some 400 km.
obligatory shot of a family of nemo
Dungun is actually the closest place to get to for any decent diving, unless you actually consider Lumut/Sembilan islands a valid diving option, which I don’t and hence hasn’t bothered to pen down the trip there earlier this year.
I just wish they didn’t delay the opening East Coast Highway to 2015 from the original 2011, that would cut half an hour off, hello JKR!
can you spot the tiny shrimp?
The room we had at Tenggol Resort had 2 single bed on each side of the smallish room, with no table or closet, and an attached bathroom with surprisingly good heated water (works from 7 pm till 8:30 am, as with electricity). Air conditioning didn’t really work well for us but temperature at night on the island is usually pretty comfortable anyway.
We didn’t have any problems with insects or bed bugs but a mat salleh in another room had his back bitten pretty bad. This is definitely not a 3-star or even 1-star type of place, but it will get you through the night if you’re not too fussy.
a pair of nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, yes, coitus
As with any trip at Tenggol (and with most islands), all meals are provided. We were lucky as there was an actual professional chef working (part time) at the resort for that particular week, so we ended up having pretty awesome meal. Your mileage may vary.
a white nudi wandering around – Chromodoris coi
We did 3 boat dives on the day of arrival, and another morning dive on the next day. Our dive master Salleh was a very “chilling” type of guy, but perhaps one that is more suited for seasoned divers than beginners. Briefings were actually very brief, and the DM also didn’t dictate what we were doing underwater for the most part, we were also allowed to stay as long as we wanted instead of some who can’t wait to get out of water once it’s over 45 minutes.
Moon Wrecker – 11:26 am 21/6/2012. 43 minutes drift dive with plenty to see and pretty decent 15 meter visibility. Saw some huge jelly fish, and one being attacked/eaten by a Titan Trigger fish, a 5 foot long black tip shark swam by 15-20 meter away too, good stuff. Slightly challenging dive for Haze in the beginning but she cope well. DM led us with another 2 guys – Thomas & Trud (spelling?).
Rajawali Reef – 2:54 pm 21/6/2012. Plenty of nudibranch in this dive, there were no current, nice and relaxing. Spotted stingrays too, 54 minute dive time.
Tanjung Gemuk – 5:53 pm 21/6/2012. We spent another 55 minutes on the last dive of the day, nice calm evening water with more nudibranch, stingray, eel, and pipe fish. It was just Haze, myself, and the dive master in this dive.
Tokong Timur – 8:41 am 22/6/2012. One of the better dive sites at Tenggol that is also a bit more challenging, Tokong Timur is a very small island with a light house atop. There was a bit of a mild current and slightly choppy surface water, saw one really big batfish, and as with anywhere Tenggol, more nudibranch, sea fan, and nemo. Not a bad way to end the trip.
Our maximum depths in all those dives were capped at around 20+ meters, and at one point we touched 27 meter I believe.
Haze’s imitation of a sky dive, or something
With this short Tenggol trip I’ve logged 28 dives in 4 diving trips this year. Diving can be an expensive hobby, I justify it with not having a car loan.
hello stingray, look who’s looming behind
My current set up for underwater photography is the Olympus E-PL3 with the in-house EP-PT05L housing. I have an ikelite plate for it and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 underwater strobe to light up the subject. All photos taken with Inon UWL 100 & Dome port.
My gears are almost complete, I just need to upgrade it to dual YS-01 (or trade this in for dual Inon z-240 and be RM 2-3k poorer), and add a stacked Inon UCL-165 lenses for macro to complete my gears. Perhaps some floats will help too, the equipment is getting heavy.
normal camwhore is so mainstream, this is underwater camwhore!
I think there’s another 1-2 trips to be done in this year, bring it on!
Following last year’s positive experience at Lang Tengah, we made a returning visit to the same island again. After Similan Islands live aboard and the trip to Pulau Sembilan (had good seafood, not so great diving), this is my third diving trip for the year, and that’s 24 dives logged this year. Can’t say I’m complaining.
arriving at Redang Lang Island Resort’s Jetty
We charted a bus and left KL at around 10pm on Thursday night. After spending a night largely freezing our asses off in the bus and had breakfast at Kampung Cina’s kopitiam, we hopped on the transfer boat, and 45 minutes or so later, we arrived at Paradise.
The fine white sand and crystal clear water always has a way of making the journey worth it.
and here’s a slice of paradise here in Malaysia
After lunch, we started diving. There were 5 dives in two days, and they are:
Day 1, first dive: Karang Nibong, 60 mins, 18m max
Day 1, second dive: Tanjung Terunjuk, 52 mins, 23m max
Day 2, morning dive: Terumbuk Kuning, 46 mins, 26m max
Day 2, second dive: Karang Nibong, 63 mins, 21m max
Day 2, afternoon dive: Karang Baha, 54 mins, 22m max
finally, a photo of us underwater
We were pretty fortunate on our dives and managed to spot leopard shark on two separate occasions. First at Tanjung Terunjuk on day one and again at Karang Baha on our last dives. However, the sharks were pretty shy, and on both occasions swam away before we could approach close enough for a Kodak moment.
By rough estimates, the sharks were at least 8-9 feet in length, and absolutely stunning.
a shy green turtle hiding beneath a boulder
This was also Haze’s first real diving trip, the two leisure dives at Pulau Sembilan she did (and I participated) had visibilities so poor that there isn’t actually any hint of leisure in them.
On these dives, we were blessed with visibilities in excess of 20 meters on all dives except the two occasions when we veered off to the slightly more challenging areas to spot leopard sharks.
those elusive razorfish
At Redang Lang, like most other resorts, food is included, they are edible and very average. Breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner served at the “canteen” area everyday, and dives are usually scheduled in between meals.
a relative of bad joke eel is found here too
Luckily for Haze and a few others, Redang Lang’s rental gears are all new this year. Often times at budget dive trips the rental gears can be quite… disappointing. This was one of the reasons I bought everything I need sans weight belt and scuba tank.
Lydia making friends with Nemo and family
It was a good couple days of divings. We boarded the bus again on Sunday and left Paradise reluctantly. It was another 10 hours or so before we reached KL (traffic was a bitch, and we made too many stops).
Guess it’s time to plan another trip.
nemo, sea fan, plenty of fish, and this interestingly shaped dead coral.. ermm
James helping out divers taking off their fins before boarding
KY, Haze, Terence, Celine, James, baby and mom, Lydia & the rest
The biggest appeal of diving to me is the calmness I get when underwater, listening to nothing but the breath that I take and the bubbles flowing out from the regulator, the sense of weightlessness and the ability to move about without restriction in 3 dimension. It is a form of freedom you never get on land.
The magnificent seascape and underwater creatures, well, they are just a huge bonus. While no picture can convey that sense of liberty, here are some underwater pictures I took from various dive sites at Similan Islands.
My gears were Olympus E-PL3 with the underwater housing coupled, Inon UWL 100 & Dome port, and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 external flash.
swim through, Deep Six
I logged 14 dives over 4 days of diving living aboard M/V Vilai Samut operated by Liquid Adventure. (previous year experience here). The boat departs from Khao Lak at night, so night one started before day one. The sites we went to were:
West of Eden
West of Eden (night)
Ko Tachai (night)
Koh Bon (night)
Koh Bon Pinnacle
Bon Soon Wreck
tiny black reef fish atop table coral at West of Eden
We were lucky to have excellent visibility of at least 30-40 meters in more than 70% of the dives, and had at least 20 meters in the rest of the dives too. Comparing with Pulau Sembilan/Lumut’s 5-10 m visibility…
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pics, and say no to shark’s fins!
giant spiny lobster, night dive at West of Eden
sea snake, Koh Bon
the reef at Koh Bon
clown fish in anemone, night dive at Elephant Rock
an unnerving cuttle fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
lion fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
Dave convincing a lion fish to pose, Richelieu Rock
Here’s a short video compiled from the video clips I took during the dive trip to Similan Islands. Looks like I’ll need a video light or shoot almost exclusively on shallow water under bright lit condition to make this better.
Most clips were shot with Olympus E-PL3 (except those not underwater, shot with Sony Xperia Arc), using Inon wide angle converter with dome port, no red filter (which I had and probably should have made good use of.. gah!)