Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pulau Perhentian - Dive with Universal Divers, Terengganu Malaysia

Since i got my PADI open water license couple of years back, i've been diving in Pulau Perhentian for a few times. Pulau Perhentian's calm waters and not too deep made it great for a beginner like me.

Usually, there were several of us heading to the island but only a few of us did the dive trips. The rest were on the normal snorkeling excursion. From Kuala Lumpur (KUL), we took the first flight to Kota Bharu (KBR) and from there a pre-arranged driver fetched us to the Kuala Besut jetty. Usually, we would be early to arrive at the jetty and would have our breakfast there.

i always love the view of the sea from above...

There's a small stall selling local dishes like nasi dagang, nasi kerabu etc. Being me, i always opted for the local dish. Recommended.

The boat ride to the island took place around 11am and usually it would take about 30 mins ride. This is the part i love most. The smell of the sea and the wind blowing onto the face. You know the holiday mode is definitely turned on.

Perhentian consist of two islands, Perhentian Besar (Big Island) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Island). Although both islands are side by side and you can see across if you're standing on either island, it offers different kind of activities and atmosphere.

Let's start with Perhentian Kecil first.

Perhentian Kecil's famous beach and one of the nicest beach is Long Beach. Here, the sand is super soft, white with very clear water. Blue, green, turquoise, it shows different colour at different time of the day. The beach has no corals, shallow, soft sand and that makes it a perfect resting place, for leisure swim or even just float around. There is no waves, or maybe a little wave but lots of taxi boats.

It also has a lot of resorts ranging from dormitory to budget sharing to high range resort style rooms. With that too, there are a lot or cafes or stalls selling various items from apparels to food to dive center and island tour operators. Some of these cafes turn into bars during the night time to cater for the beach goers. Long Beach is also the place to hangout and get that perfect tan. Most foreigners (mainly single or group of friends) stays here for obvious reasons. Long Beach also is the only place that has a 'happening' night life.

Basically, those staying in Long Beach would sleep during the day under the beach umbrella and up and about during the night. I don't have to elaborate on this and I'm sure you know what i meant. 

There are other beach area around the Small Island which offers a more quiet and serene surroundings. The main village (fisherman village) is also located in the Small Island. One of my favourite spot is Romantic Beach. It is quiet, soft white sand and cristal clear water but there is no accommodation offered here. One can only do a day trip to this spot.

For anyone who loves to hike, there is a windmill in the Small Island. You can hike up a small hill and may have a great view of the island. I have never been there but will make my way up one day.

Perhentian Besar (Big Island) on the other hand, offers more of laid back environment. Most of the beaches here are not as soft as in the Small Island but still offers clear underwater visibility. You can just jump into the water, swim out a little bit and can snorkel to see the house reef. The best part is, on the Big Island, you can see sunset everyday setting behind the Small Island. 

Cocohut at Tuna Bay, which i usually stayed at, is my kind of resort. Simple and quiet. Yes there may be some big group of people every now and then but most of the time, the place is just nice. Love the beach, love the water, love the house reef and love the platform where you can swim there and hangout. Or play 'jump into the water'. Hehehe.

view from Tuna Bay

Here are some of the shots i took at the Tuna Bay beach fronting the resorts. Shots were taken around 4.30pm and there were many people swimming/snorkeling. 

superb clear water

house reef

house reef

On this bay also, there are 2 dive centers. Seahorse Divers and Universal Divers (UD). The one i have been going to was Universal Divers. Can check out their facebook page here or their website.

universal diver

universal diver

The two regular faces at UD is Charlotte and Ali. Charlotte is kinda like the mini boss there and manages the day to day operations and greeted us when we arrived for the first time. I immediately felt welcomed by her warmth and friendliness and decided to dive with them since. 

Ali is the underwater star. He is on demand all the time and sometimes we need to check his availability if we want him as our DM. Lucky us, on our first dive, we got him. 

first dive site as a certified OW diver

I think it is in every DM's heart that they will make sure we are comfortable in our gears and also when we are underwater. Yeah, I get panic underwater whenever i cough, sneeze or gagged. (And yes, those things happen underwater). All Ali did was just hold on to me and it made me calmed. 

Of course my first few dives were 'choppy'. Floating here and there. Get pulled by current. Felt like swimming but in fact i didn't move an inch. Looking at the DM swim like a mermaid made me pressure playing catching up.

Since you saw my amateur-ish picture with a cheap compact and flimsy plastic cover, here are some of the pro's shot. All pictures credit to Alirosli Othman.

can somebody help me identify what these creatures are...

not sure what type of stingray

reef shark

black and white nemo-like fish. 

blue spotted ray. beautiful and majestic creature

yellow tail fin

back view

front view

soft coral


more nemo

hard coral

group photo

The dive rates here are pretty much standard. I'm not so sure about the rates on the Small Island or other dive centers at other part of the island. But because UD's center is near to the jetty, i choose them so that i don't have to carry the tank too far. =)

Since this first trip, I've been back to the same place 3 times now. And i know, there will be more to come. 

eat. sleep. dive


  1. what camera did u use for underwater?

    1. mine was a nikon. The divemaster's was canon G-series.

  2. I don't like this entry (because I haven't been to Perhentian, heh!)

    1. Well you should! Adam is still there in KB and he is planning to go soon. You can tag along.

  3. may i know the rate for ur dive here?