Malaysia // The south //

Snorkelling and diving around Pulau Tioman

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With such abundant marine life in the waters around Tioman, you’re unlikely to choose to be island-bound the whole time. Many nearby islets provide excellent opportunities for snorkelling, and most of the chalet operations offer day-trips; prices start at RM75, including equipment. The relatively healthy coral and huge biodiversity in these temperate waters also make for great diving. Dive centres on Tioman offer a full range of PADI certificates, from a four-day Open Water course (around RM1000), through to the Dive Master (RM3200) and instructor qualifications. For the already qualified, a boat dive costs around RM105 per person.

Of the many dive shops, B&J’s in Air Batang is well established (wdivetioman.com), and has a second shop in Salang (t09 419 5555). Blue Heaven (wblueheavendivers.com), also in Air Batang, does a good-value Open Water package. In Tekek try Ray’s Dive (wraysdive.com). To explore less-visited dive sites, contact Sunrise Dive Centre (wsunrisedivecentre.com) in Juara. The dive sites listed here are the most popular on the west coast, where most people dive.

Golden Reef (typical depth 10–20m). 15min off the northwestern coast; boulders provide a breeding ground for marine life, and produce many soft and hard corals. Known for nudibranchs and other macro life.

Pulau Chebeh (15–30m). In the northwestern waters, this is a massive volcanic labyrinth of caves and channels. Napoleon fish, triggerfish and turtles are present in abundance.

Pulau Labas (5–20m). South of Pulau Tulai, this island has numerous tunnels and caves that provide a home for pufferfish, stingrays and moray eels.

Tiger Reef (10–25m). Deservedly the most popular site, southwest of Pulau Tulai between Labas and Sepoi islands. Yellow-tail snappers, trevally and tuna, spectacular soft coral and gorgonian fans.

Tokong Magicienne (Magician Rock) (10–25m). Due north of Pulau Tioman, this colourful, sponge-layered coral pinnacle is a feeding station for larger fish – silver snappers, golden-striped trevally, jacks and groupers.

Sawadee wrecks (25–30m). Two wooden Thai fishing boats just offshore from Tekek airport attract scorpionfish and juvenile barracuda, as well as more common marine life.

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