Malaysia is a diving haven just waiting to be explored. Among the renowned diving destinations are Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Tenggol, Pulau Layang Layang and Pulau Sipadan.
Pulau Tioman is said to be a real treasure as it has colourful coral reefs and marine life such as anemones, starfish, limpets and thorny sea urchins. There are more than 20 diving spots around the island; among the best are Pulau Tulai and Pulau Renggis.
Here, in vast gardens of hard corals, cuttlefish, angelfish, barracuda and turtles await divers. Deep diving enthusiasts will love Pulau Chebeh, the site of several giant manta sightings.
Tioman is easily accessible by boat from Tanjung Gemuk jetty in Rompin, Pahang, or through Mersing, Johor.
There are many diving operators on the island with reasonable diving packages. For
more information, log on to http://www.divetioman.com.
Pulau Redang, 45km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, also offers excellent spots for diving thanks to the sheltered waters of the Redang Island Marine Park. Rockcod, nudibranch, batfish and Yellow-tail barracudas are among the marine life that abounds in Pulau Redang.
Among the popular dive sites here are Tanjung Tokong where Green and Hawksbill turtles have been spotted and Tunnel Point. Tanjung Lang is the shallowest, offering fans, whips and other corals in waters with a maximum depth of 18 metres.
Log on to www.redang.org to get updates on the diving sites and to know about the packages offered.
Pulau Perhentian is 25km away from Kuala Besut, Terengganu. Ferry services to the island are available while car parking facilities are provided at RM5 per night.
The Perhentian islands are made up of Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. The former is popular among families while the latter is enjoyed by the younger generation and backpacker crowd.
The island is rich in coral and marine life which includes stingrays, black corals, moray eels and colourful fishes. Turtles come up to lay eggs between April and September. For more information log on to http://www.pulauperhentian.com.my
Easily accessible within 45 minutes by speed boat from Kuala Dungun, Terengganu, is Pulau Tenggol. Transportation to the island is usually available at all times as the Tenggol Resort manages the boat service. This island is suitable for experienced divers as the water is rather rough.
Tenggol has over 20 diving sites and offers the thrill of wall diving. Marine life that can be found here include sharks, rays, nudibranch and a wide variety of hard and soft coral. Before being declared a marine park, the island was a favourite hunting ground for spear-fishermen, who looked for pricey snappers and groupers. For diving packages, log on to http://www.pulautenggol.com.
Pulau Layang-Layang, Sabah, is another diving destination not to be missed where its coral walls plunge a staggering 2,000 metres down to the floor of the South China Sea. The waters are crystal clear with excellent visibility. Massive numbers of barracuda, jacks and hammerhead sharks frequent the waters here.
The island is also a sanctuary to thousands of migratory raptors. Layang-Layang has a 1,067-metre airstrip and a comfortable 90-room 3-star resort. Other facilities include a 200-seat restaurant, full service PADI diving centre and a free form water pool as well as a souvenir shop.
Layang-Layang Island can be enjoyed as part of an exclusive tour run by Layang-Layang Island Resort. Access to the resort is between February and October. For more information, visit http://www.layanglayang.com.
Another island that is legendary among diving circles is Pulau Sipadan, Sabah. It conjures images of hammerhead sharks, millions of reef fish and dozens of sea turtles swimming peacefully in its waters.
It is Malaysia’s only oceanic island and is only 12 hectares in size. A 25-minute walk is all that is required to circle the island on foot. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, this crown jewel is a treasure trove of some of the most amazing marine animals.
Pulau Sipadan offers some of the best wall diving experiences in the world. The water’s edge presents a drop of more than 609.6 metres (2,000 feet) just 9.14 metres (30 feet) from the beach, and all dive sites are within easy reach by boat.
Pulau Sipadan is about 30 minutes boat ride from its jumping off point, Semporna, Sabah. For more information and accommodation deals log on to www.sipadan-resort.com.