Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / tenggol

The last time I went diving was October 2013 in Maldives, a full 2.5 years passed since I breathed underwater, until last week, when we revisited Tenggol Island. The very island I got my diving certificate more than ten years ago, and also the island I dived the most. How time flies.

Tenggol Coral Beach Resort
Tenggol Coral Beach Resort

The east coast highway is now completed, heading to Dungun took us only 4 hours (excluding the detour to Bentong for breakfast), we left KL at 6 in the morning and got there in time for the 11 am boat transfer to the island. It was also an easier drive than previously when you had to navigate through the old coastal road that can sometimes be congested with big & slow lorries.

As a consequence then, the island is now being visited more than ever, and perhaps lost a bit of its mystic of almost being a deserted island that we used to love.

KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol
KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol

Anyway, we paid about RM 1.5k each for a twin sharing room with all meals included, boat transfer from Dungun, and 7 boat dives. Slightly more expensive than earlier deals, but it was fair considering the upgrades of the facilities & meals. Will get to that later.

Anyway, I want to document my dive log here as per my usual practice.

Day 1
Dive 1
Site: Coral Garden
20/5/16 3:18 pm, 55 mins, 21.7 meter, 30 Celsius, 124 bar of air
Bumphead, 2 types of nudi, black shrimp on cushion starfish, coral fish

Dive 2
Site: Tanjung Gemuk, evening dive
20/5/16 5:58 pm, 57 mins, 19.4 meter, 31 Celsius, 117 bar of air
Nemo, huge morel eel, trumpet fish, rock hopper wrasse, huge nudi, lovely coral garden
Fish eagle with fish or sea snake captured. Nice slow drifting current

Day 2
Dive 1 – Tokong Laut
21/5/16 9:27 am, 48 mins, 26.6 meter, 29 Celsius, 118 bar of air
Lots of boulders, some swim through which is always one of my favorites.

Dive 2 – Tokong Timur
21/5/16 11:43 am, 60 mins, 20.8 meter, 29 Celsius, 134 bar of air
The other group saw whale shark at other dive site. We didn’t but was a reasonably nice dive too. Warm water of 29-30c too. Rainbow runner, school of fish.

Dive 3 – Turtle Point
21/5/16 3:38 pm, 61 mins, 16.3 meter, 31 Celsius, 113 bar of air
Trying to hunt for whale shark, didn’t find any
Lots of goby with shrimp pairing. Some pvc artificial habitat for the fishes.
Always love the black damsel among corals.

Day 3
Dive 1 – Thai Wreck
22/5/16 9:18 am, 49 mins, 30.2 meter, 28 Celsius, 130 bar of air
Lovely atmospheric dive, took a few pics around the wreck. Deepest dive so far.
Again plenty of goby with shrimp at Sandy bottom.

Dive 2 – Amazing Grace
22/5/16 11:37 am, 61 mins, 18.6 meter, 30 Celsius, 120 bar of air
Last dive of the trip. Also one of the loveliest.
Saw 2 turtles, maybe could have been the same one. Trigger fish. Also saw 3 blue spotted rays.
Big giant garupa. Played with Nemo, catch and release style. Saw jewel garupa too.

Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives
Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives

A thing to note for myself is that I have to start checking my equipment at least a couple weeks prior to the trip. I only did so a night prior to this trip and discovered 2 optical cables & my macro lens were missing. The lens lent to a friend but the cables .. well, I may need new cables.

Additionally, we discovered that Haze’s dive computer ran out of battery, with mine being quite low in power as well. We also should have tested the BCD in the swimming pool, cos that would have avoided me discovering that a plastic part had failed right before I was about to go into water for my first dive.

Lessons learned.

food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement
food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement

One of the best things that happened to having more visitors to Tenggol, at least at Tenggol Coral Beach resort that we went, is that now they serve proper food!

In previous years, you basically “eat to dive” and there were very little enjoyment to be had from those barely edible meals. Now they actually offer fairly decent buffet spread that wouldn’t be out of place in a 2-star hotel in the city.

there was even steamboat dinner on our last night
there was even steamboat dinner on our last night

In fact, on the last night they even prepared steamboat dinner with a hot pot on every table, complete with names of the group all assigned properly.

There’s also now a mini market of sort that you can purchase additional drinks (aka alcohol, soda etc) or snacks to be charged to the room. All in all it is now a much hospitable set up than before, and with 24 hour stable electricity supply & hot water as well. We were pleasantly surprised by this.

our dive guide - Jess
our dive guide – Jess

I have a feeling I would see Tenggol again in future trips, the diving was pretty decent, getting there is now easier than ever, makes for a perfect long weekend getaway.


After 2.5 years of not breathing underwater, and over a decade since I first got my license at Tenggol island, this is the 4th time back to one of my favorite islands.


Tenggol here we come! Can’t wait.

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
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
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
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?
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
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
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.

My experience with the DM is a positive one.

underwater seascape
underwater seascape

Short dive logs, check this image for dive sites:

  1. 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?).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
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
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!
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!

Another diving trip for the year. This time at Tenggol island for a short 4 dive 2 days 1 night excursion.


Tenggol island always have a special place in my heart, it is where I got my PADI open water certification many years ago, and also the first vacation that Haze and I shared over 2 years ago.

It’s going to be first time diving for Haze here and only her 3rd diving trip. Boat is leaving in less than half an hour, hopefully we see something awesome!

Have a great weekends, and to all Muslim friends, selamat berpuasa

My recent diving trip to Tenggol island marked the 3rd time I attempted underwater photography. This post is more on some of the better photos I took with the limited equipments I currently operate while breathing compressed air – Canon S90 with Ikelite Underwater casing.

Pulau Tenggol, May 2010
Paradise with beach, crystal clear water, and sun, right here in Malaysia

Looking through the photos make me want to have underwater strobes and a couple Inon wet lenses so much. It’s a wish that can be answered by a few dozens RM 100 bills I can’t really afford to part with at this moment.

There’s always a delicate balance on splitting the limited amount of dough between gears and diving itself. Oh well, soon, soon…

Anyway, here are some of the better photos that serves a good summary from the 3 day trip.

Nemo and friends
nemo in anemone

Nemo, the artist formally known as clown fish, is quite abundant at coral reefs around Tenggol.

In one instance, Haze was talking to our dive master Charlie and used the word “nemo” before correcting herself and address it as “clown fish”. Charlie had to tell her that nobody uses clown fish anymore, not even the .. ahem.. older generations. Pixar is really that influential.

blue spotted stingray
blue spotted stingray

Ikan bakar never looked so pretty. I found this blue spotted stingray (the colors are gone when you .. bakar them :S) hidden under some corals, these bottom dwellers usually like to hide under boulders, which makes this quite an opportunistic capture. I like how the blue spots turned out.

haze, KY, dave, and rich
Haze, KY, Dave, and Rich

First pic was when we just arrived, the second on one of our normal boat dives with me and my full set of gears, and the last one just before the night dive on second day.

By the way I think that was the only pair of jeans on the whole island.

crab, during night dive
this crab is probably quite yummy on dinner plate

A lot of crustaceans come out to play and prey at night, Rich spotted this fancy crab amongst the rock and I was able to snap a pretty decent photo with the built in flash. I so wanted to have this on the dinner table, but alas, Tenggol is a marine park.

spiny lobster, even more yums!

Also known as rock lobster, this decapod would probably taste even better than the crab mentioned above! This thing was huge, at least 2 feet in length. But then looking through sea water amplifies your vision by around 30%.. emm..

the 5 sisters at Tenggol
the 5 sisters of Tenggol

This is one of the five sisters of Tenggol. They are five Vietnamese ship wrecks laying at the bottom peacefully at over 30 meters depth, there’s another wreck on slightly shallower water in the middle of the lagoon too.

We went to the wrecks every morning for 3 days straight. The slightly murky water, low light condition, and the quietness of being underwater gives this site a pretty ghastly feel. One can only imagine what went through the refugees’ minds from the moment the board the boat with all their belongings to feel the war torn country to the point when they reached Tenggol and had to sink their boat to make sure they weren’t gonna be towed out and left alone drifting in open sea.

A wide angle converter would do me good at this site.

green sea turtle
look ma, a green turtle!

This was the only green turtle spotted over 8 dives. A shy little one about 2 feet in length.

Turtles aren’t very common in this part of the world anymore, this probably has something to do with the fact that they’re still selling turtle eggs at Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu, with the authority turning a blind eye on the grotesque abuse on animal conservation effort in this country. It’s just sad.

giant barracuda
Giant barracuda, smile!

Schools of juvenile barracudas are pretty common at Tenggol, but the big ones less so. This was one of the two giant barracudas we spotted during the last dive. They’re some 3 feet across and can look downright scary, this photo doesn’t do justice to the awesomeness of this fish though.

starlit sky at Pulau Tenggol
look at the stars, look how they shine for you

Other than going underwater and enjoying the beach, the other thing that I absolutely love about being on an island is the stars. They are absolutely brilliant at night, thousands and thousands of stars when the sky is clear.

We were just chilling on the beach, under the star, and sipping some whisky at night. It was awesome, I want to be back there now!