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The Perhentians, Lang Tengah, Yu, Bidong and Redang islands lie on the east coast of Malaysia in the gulf of Thailand. I have visited these islands on several occasions and must have done over a hundred dives in this area. Dive sites are very varied, from current swept rocks close to the Perhentians and Bidong to gentle slopes covered with sea anemones around Redang to underwater mounds in Lang Tengah. All these places also have excellent house reefs that are good for night dives or snorkeling. Visibility is not always so good, because the islands lie on a shallow plateau.
Tokong Laut lies
out in the sea in the northwest of the Perhentian Islands. It is a rocky pinnacle
covered with soft and hard corals. You can find dozens of small bamboo sharks
lying under the corals, sleeping. Sometimes there are several lying one on top
of the other, moving there tails with the water current. Look under the rocks
around 20m. If you don't find bamboosharks it will be a moray eel! This time
there were also a lot of mackerels and jackfish.
Terumbu Tiga lies on the east of Perhentian Besar Island. Its a jumble of large rocks with many swim throughs. Visibility isn't so good and there is often a slight film of particles on the rocks. Nudibranchs seem to love it, specially one that is called "blue dragon", a beautiful bluish, violet slug. Terumbu Tiga was one of our first dives in that area. We were very lucky, because at the beginning of the dive we saw a large school of mackerels and another school of small herrings that just about covered the reef. My divebuddy Jutta and myself stayed over 20min. around 15m and watched their dance. The mackerels attacked the herrings in large and small groups and tried to divide the large school, round up smaller numbers of fish and urge them towards the surface. Deadly and beautiful! Later on another dive at the same site I met a leopard shark. It was swimming in front of us for several minutes, before it disappeared towards the sandy area. Great!
Lang Tengah lies between the Perhentians and Redang and can easily be reached from both. This island offers you relaxed diving in an idyllic, laid-back setting. Of the nice dive sites around this island, I specially recommend the underwater mound.
Karang Nibong Laut:
The underwater mound consists of a pile of huge rocks on a sandy area. We found
a lot of bamboo sharks sleeping under these rocks and also some very nice nudibranchs.
Look under the saucer like leather corals, there are always some moray eels
This place is nice for night dives. In the sandy
areas you can find cuttlefish, octopus and moray eels. If you go snorkeling
check out the resident black tip reef sharks at the southern end of the beach.
Terumbu Kuning (Yellow Reef): A rocky formation (bottom 25m) where you can find nurse sharks hiding in the crevices. There are a lot of small animals like shrimps, flatworms, nudibranchs, gobies, pipefish.
just in front of the Redang Lagoon, it's just great. Grab a tank
and jump in! Starting on the northern side you dive around a small promontory.
It isn't very deep, no more than 15 m at the most. There are always 4 to 5 small
baby whitetip reef sharks swimming close to the rocks. It seems to be
a protected area for sharks to grow up in, since I have seen them there three
years in a row. I also saw every time a group of sepias and another of needlefishes
just at the surface. Further on there are staghorn coral fields and a small
reef. One of the guys (Zorro) that go out with snorkeling groups told me, he
had seen black seahorses there. My try at finding them - I even got up at seven
o'clock in the morning (!!!) - was unsuccessful.
Tanjung Tokong: This dive site lies south of turtle bay in the northern
part of Redang. This is a good place to see Napoleon fish, sharks and plenty
of nudibranchs and flatworms.
there lies a cargo boat in about 8m water just in front of the administrative
center of the marine park. Go very early in the morning. The boat's cargo was
jute bags, they cover the bottom of the hold and are slowly rotting away. Somewhere
in the middle of this lies a stonefish! He makes himself a small bed from pieces
of stone, clamshells and coral pieces and waits for his breakfast.
This dive site is quite nice by day (always large rays, double-ended
pipefish), but go there at night with Anuar and it gets really interesting!
He had already told us about the five Janss pipefish, that only come out at
night. These are colored blue - yellow - blue and are very shy. They clean other
fish like the cleaner wrasses. We also saw some ornate pipefish and a stonefish.
Sandy areas around Paku Kechil and Terumbu Kili: We made several dives on sandy areas, swimming out from the reef as long as we could without getting deco (depth 16 to 18m). I don't recommend this for everybody. Take a compass with you and tell the boatman about it! Expect long stretches of boring sand and then in-between the surprises. Look at every sponge, anemone, seagrass you happen upon, study every seacucumber close up and it is incredible how much life you can find.
First time we went out on the sand we were looking for the saddleback anemone fish, which is quite rare in this area. But we also found sponges covered with blue crabs, anemones with dozens of cleaner shrimps as guests, seacucumbers covered with symbiotic anemones. The biggest surprise was a small white frogfish, only about 2cm length that I found on a sponge. Actually this part of Malaysia is not known for frogfishes at all - so this was a real find! And since I am a frogfish-fan (look at my frogfish pages!) this was a real gift for me.
Pulau Bidong and Yu lie to the south of Redang and can be reached from there. It is also possible to go from Merang by boat. Actually Anuar from Scuba Quest intends to offer the later next year, starting from a hotel in Merang. There are no resorts or dive operators on the island.
Batu Takorak (scull rock): This dive site lies close to Redang.
I had hoped to go there several times, since this is an excellent dive site
with large fish, such as barracudas, mackerels etc. and very nice corals (large
Porites corals mostly) also. We only did two dives there, both very nice. Anuar
intends to go there more often, once he also operates from Merang.
Pulau Yu besar and kechil: these
islands lies at the edge to deeper water, so you can find larger fish such as
barracudas, mackerels, bumphead parrotfish, sharks and do some deeper diving
for a change.
Blue Garden, Bidong: a great place that I visited together with my dive buddy Gate two years ago. Unfortunately we couldn't go there this time, but we went to a new dive site close to Eroding, "Anemone City", that was somewhat similar. As the name suggests, this dive site is full of blue anemones. Go there, when it is starting to be dusk, because then the anemones close their tentacles. Their bodies seem to give off a blue light. I also saw some porcelain crabs and cleaner shrimps living on the anemones.