Pulau Tioman Island are popular weekend destinations for divers. Pahang Marine Park, Pulau Tioman Island will delight you with its irresistible lure of holiday-making and discovery.
The East Coast islands are popular weekend destinations for divers based in Malaysia and Singapore. Among the southern group of islands, Pulau Tioman is the largest and most famous. Located 65km west of the mainland, Tioman is a beautiful mountainous island with rocky and sandy beaches, calm, turquoise waters and sensational sunsets. So captivating is this island that it was picked as James Michener?s fictitious Bali Hai for the filming of the Hollywood classic, South Pacific, in 1958. Tioman, surrounded by impenetrable tropical rainforests, is home to the world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia. And at low tide, its rocky shores expose critters such as the yellow-lipped sea krait and round-belly cowfish.
Scores of Christmas Island frigate birds return from the high seas to roost at dusk, sharing the island?s lush greenery with 45 species of mammals and 25 species of snakes. The waters around Tioman and eight other nearby islands have been slated as a marine park to protect them. Tioman is also known for its duty-free retail sector. It has a fair selection of bars and night entertainment to occupy the restless spirit. There is a wonderful selection of barbecued fare and cheap, local cuisine. Try the very popular roll born, the popular grilled flatbread loaded with margarine and sugar. Once you’ve had your fill of local delights, check out the dive sites around the island. There are over 20, each with their own special character to wow and charm the visitors.
Tioman will delight you with its irresistible lure of holiday-making, discovery and, of course, diving. Located off the east coast of Pahang, Tioman is easily accessible by a combination of land and boat routes or directly by air. Most resort operators are located on the western portion of the island where the sea is calmer and closer to popular diving sites. Currently, this island is the only one with dive operators offering rebreather and technical diving courses.
8m to 25n
28 to 30 deg C
Between 1 to 3 knots
Two huge wooden Thai fishing boats lie at the bottom of Tekek (lay at 31m and they are hot favourites with divers for the nurse sharks, huge stonefish, octopus and moray eels frequently sighted around them. Juvenile boxfish are often spotted along the mooring lines leading to them, while soft and hard corals wrap the wrecks and attract large shoals of fusiliers and kingfish. A deep dive suitable only for the advanced diver, there is also a good chance of encountering manta rays, shovelnose rays, frogfish, seahorses and whale sharks.
Just off Pulau Soyak. at 28m, lie two boats guarded by a huge resident grouper. The seabed graduates up to 5m towards the island, with a kaleidoscope of rocks and coral formations attracting large congregations of turtles, bumphead parrotfish, giant barracuda, and schools of fusiliers, yellowtail kingfish and trevally. Occasionally, huge Napoleon wrasses (the largest measuring up to 1.5m1) sometimes come up close to eyeball divers. Keen-eyed marine life enthusiasts might also spot the inconspicuous slipper lobster and the muted squid. Nurse sharks have also been observed on the deck. Soyak also makes for a great night dive, and has tons of nudibranchs for photography.
Wreck divers will enjoy the Soyak Wreck with its many soft and hard coral adornments. Moorish idols, Trevally and angelfish abound here in a sunken hull not more than 20m deep. This means plenty of time for exploration.
Lies off Tekek Beach. You’ll find an assortment of reef life in vast gardens of hard corals, cuttlefish, angelfish, barracuda and turtles are common here.
Northeast Pulau Chebeh
Deep diving enthusiasts will love Pulau Chebeh, the site of several giant manta sightings. You will relish the thrill of the deep sea and the sight of huge gorgonian sea fans. Large boulders slope down to 25m providing divers with interesting exploration through the many swim-through tunnels. The hard coral terrain is interrupted by numerous soft corals, sea fans and black corals at the deeper end. Blue spotted stingrays can be seen at the sandy bottom while moray eels, parrot fish, butterfly fish and sweet lips stay close to the corals.
Regarded as on of the top dive sites in Pulau Tioman. This submerge reef is worth the dive despite the strong currents. Once you have descended down the anchor line of the dive boat to the reef, you will experience slack currents. Hard and soft corals make up the seascape. Schools of glass sweepers and cardinal fish seek refugee in crevices while fusiliers, rainbow runners and tunas swim in the blue water.
Named after HMS Magicienne. this is a rock pinnacle protruding above the surface, and surrounded by reef plateau rising up to 14m. This site is best known as a pelagic playground for mantas, marlins, leopard sharks and the occasional whale shark. A more challenging dive, due to strong currents, the rock is great for large schools of yellowtail snappers, barracudas and jacks. Divers can also appreciate the wonderful underwater pinnacles of soft corals, including massive barrel sponges and gorgonian fans.
Sea Fan Garden – Pulau Tulai
As the name suggests, this is an excellent site to see large colourful seafans. Hard corals dominate the shallower reef as you descent deeper you will come across huge coral blocks carpeted with seafans. In between the seafans are glass sweepers darting about as you approach. Good site to observe colourful nudibranchs on the walls of the coral block.
Labas Or Pirate Island
Offers a fascinating topography with its large submerged and semi-submerged boulders. A small rocky island that lies on the edge of an underwater plateau, its waters teem with marine life. Pulau Labas is the site for pelagic encounters including schools of jacks and fusiliers. It depths range from 6m to 16m and it is famous for caves and swimthroughs. Watch out for cat sharks and cobia, which usually cling on to larger fish. Whale sharks are also known to frequent the waters off Labas in season.
PAHANG ROYAL REEF
The Pahang Royal Reef (also known as Regent’s Reef) near Pulau Renggis was so named in honour of its royal helping hand the patronage of the Regent of Pahang, KDYTM Tengku Mahkota Pahang. The reef contains 50 reef balls planted in a diamond-shaped quadrant. Each ball weighs about 300kg with perforated hand-sized holes to attract coral and provide a safe habitat for the proliferation of marine life.
There also many artificial reef attractions that have been planted off the waters of Tekek Bay to boost the conservation efforts of the Pulau Tioman Marine Park. Divers can explore the PJ Hilton Reef and DHL Reef (69 reef balls) contributed by DHL offices around the world.
There are daily scheduled flights by Berjaya Air, from Subang Airport (Kuala Lumpur) and Seletar Airport (Singapore) on a 48 seated Dash 7 aircraft.
Take the Transnational at the Puduraya bus station from Kuala Lumpur to Tanjung Gemok, Pahang or Mersing, Johor.
There are daily scheduled ferry services to Tioman from Tanjung Gemok, Pahang, and from Mersing, Johor. Departure from Mersing depends on the tides.