Do you know that feeling of falling in love? The excitement? The general happiness? The adrenaline coursing through your veins when you catch a glimpse of your great love? The pounding of your heart when you know you’ll soon meet again? The butterflies in your stomach because are so excited about every little detail of you newfound crush?
That’s how I feel about scuba diving! I got my PADI Open Water last year and have been in love ever since…
Whenever I see a scuba diving picture on IG my heart skips a beat, because I know the feeling of freedom and being in complete awe of the amazing underwater world diving gives you. Well gives me, in any case.
I am definitely still a diving newbie, with just 16 dives in my log.
But I am planning to do a lot more diving and slowly but surely fill up that little booklet of mine… So far I went diving on 4 locations and I can say without a doubt that Tioman was the best!
Why you may ask?
Well, several reasons:
1. The variety of fish and coral
The coral was just stunning, it looked like underwater flower fields… In fact, you could see the coral straight from the jetty pier!
And the marine life… amazing! In a 45 minute dive I saw a turtle, a giant moray eel and a shark. Not to mention all the other colorful fish darting around in every direction I looked.
What I loved was that our dive masters explained and described which fish we saw after each dive. I learned so much on the 4 dives I did on Tioman! This brings me to my next reason why scuba diving on Tioman was the best…
2. Will and Jess, the awesome dive masters of B&J Dive School
The dive masters of B&J Dive School, Will and Jess, were the absolute best I have met! They are such an adventurous couple, traveling around the world together and working as a dive instructor and dive master. And they are very good at their job!
Will and Jess taught us about the species of fish in the area and about the importance of thorough dive briefings. Before starting a dive, they always told us what to expect of the dive site, such as depth, current and fish that were usually seen in the area.
They repeated the most important dive signals and the safety procedure in case one of us got lost or separated from our buddy.
Will and Jess also taught us about our gear. As I mentioned in my post about getting my PADI in El Nido, I had not learned to set up my own equipment completely on my own. Which is why I was very grateful they taught us how to assemble our gear and how to systematically do our buddy checks.
I felt so much more confident developing a getting-ready-to-dive-routine and I personally feel this is a very important part of diving. Diving is all about being and staying save, making sure that you check and double check, that you never push the limits and that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Which is why it’s really important to check your gear.
Of course it’s ultimately about exploring the underwater world and its magical creatures… Bringing me to reason 3 why diving on Tioman was awesome!
3. Focus on diving alone!
I enjoyed doing the PADI course in El Nido a lot. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I also did the Advanced PADI course on Koh Tao. But what I loved about diving on Tioman is that I wasn’t doing a course, requiring me to focus on practicing skills, navigation, buoyancy or something else the dive instructor was teaching me. Instead, I could focus completely on the beautiful surroundings…
Dive spots around Tioman
I went diving on 2 consequent days and visited 4 dive spots in Tioman (there are about 30 around the island). All the spots were absolutely amazing! The visibility was good at the time of our visit (May 2015), between 12 and 20 meters depending on the dive spot and the water temperature a comfortable 30 degrees Celsius. Meaning even an extremely shivery type like me had no problem diving in a short wet-suit?.
Dive #1: Renggis
Our first dive site was Renggis and it was the best one… The others were great too but at Renggis I saw the turtle, giant moray eel and a black-tip reef shark I was talking about earlier. In one dive! The funny thing was we saw the shark even before we descended. We were waiting in the water for the rest of our dive party and saw the shark swimming away from us while snorkeling around. So far it’s the only place I have seen a shark…
The dive site Renggis is between 6-16 meters deep and the coral is simply stunning. Really cool dive!
Dive #2: Soyak Island
Soyak was the second dive of the day, and while there are also 2 wrecks at the site we did not go there since there were all the way down at 30 meters. At that moment we did not have our Advanced PADI certificate yet, meaning we could only dive to a depth of 18 meters.
Soyak Island, the dive site we visited, is between 10-16 meters deep. Again lots of beautiful coral and on this dive we saw another moray eel, a mappa fish, 2 blue spotted ribbon tail rays, a masked porcupine and a seal faced pufferfish.
Dive #3: Labas
Labas was another amazing dive site and one of the favorites of our dive instructor Will. The site has a lot of rock formations, overgrown with all sorts of colorful coral and home to a huge variety of fish. Some of the fish we saw: a stonefish (not to be stepped on!), several angel fish and more blue spotted stingrays.
Labas dive site is between 12-18 meters deep.
Dive #4: Batu Malang
As if we had not been spoiled enough with our previous 3 dive sites, we also went to Batu Malang, also called Coral Island. This site is between 6-16 meters deep, but we spent most of our time around 10 meters. The sunlight lit up the beautiful coral and colorful fish, the underwater world is truly magical…
We saw 2 hawksbill sea turtles, pufferfish and lots of Nemos;-). Visibility at Batu Malang was the best, around 20 meters!
You can read more about the dive sites at Tioman here.
B&J Dive School on Tioman
But everything about B&J dive school is pretty excellent and I don’t say that lightly. The equipment is in pristine condition, the shop has a great assortment of dive gear and the staff gives excellent advice (I bought my dive mask there), the boats are well maintained and B&J has an excellent website as well. 2016 happens to be their 30th anniversary and if you are going to Tioman and are into diving, I fully recommend going with B&J! They have 2 dive shops, one in Salang and one in Air Batang (also known as ABC).
Dive prices on Tioman
We did 4 dives and paid 400RM each. Which comes down to just €25 per dive! This included all the necessary gear, unlimited coffee and tea in the shop and a light lunch on the boat. As a nice bonus we were transported from Salang to ABC village with the dive boat at the end of our second dive day, saving us a couple of bucks as well.
How to get to Tioman Island?
Step 1: go to the pier in Mersing where you look for the Bluewater sign and buy your single way ticket for 35RM. It is possible to purchase a return ticket (which will cost you another 35RM) if you want to be absolutely sure not to get stuck on Tioman island (because imagine how horrible that would be?).
You will have to let Bluewater know which day you want to return to the mainland, but dates can be adjusted if you change your mind. Just ask your accommodation on Tioman to call the jetty office. Anyway, buying your ticket is just step 1.
Step 2: register at a different booth where you write down which village you’ll be disembarking, your name, nationality and birth date on the passenger list. Probably in case the boat sinks…
Step 3: go to yet another booth where you get your boarding pass.
We had a great time on Tioman and the amazing dives definitely made our stay something I will never forget. I would return to Tioman in a heartbeat…
Update April 2017: I went diving at the Perhentian Islands, another awesome dive spot in Malaysia, as well. You can read more about my experiences in this post!