By August 29, 2012 Read More →

Dive Sites around the Perhentian Islands

My Diving Experience in the Perhentian Islands

If you want to know more about the Perhentian Islands see our previous Malaysia travel blog post before reading this summary of some of the best dive sites in the Perhentians.  My dives were split across three days, two a day for the first two days and final dive on the day of our departure.  The dives took place in early August 2012.

The Temple of the Sea

Depth:                  19.9M

Dive time             46 minutes

Temperature:    30 C

Visibility:              20M

Dive Experience

This was a great first dive. I was still a little unsure of myself as it had been almost five months since my last dive in the Philippines, but under the influence of Crystal, the divemaster, I settled in and was soon in awe at the number and size of the fish on offer at this site.  The visibility was also great at 20M on a clear day giving some great sunlight reflections off the fish and corals. (This is the one dive I should have had the camera for)


Enormous Fusilier shoals, small bamboo sharks nestled under rocks trying to ignore the inquisitive divers. My first blue spotted stingray lazing on the bottom of the sea a medium sized puffer fish just hovering in the sea completely uncaring that four divers were hovering around it staring into its beady black eyes.

Sugar Wreck

Depth:                  18.8M

Dive time             43 minutes

Temperature:    30 C

Visibility:              6-8M

Dive Experience

The wreck is a sugar cargo vessel that was apparently scuttled when the captain got caught for not having the right import papers and he chose to sink the ship rather than pay the fines.  Not sure of the validity of this tale but it makes for a good story.

Wrecks by their nature attract a lot of sediment and that gets churned up by currents around it, so the visibility wasn’t great, but what you lack in visibility you make up for in atmospheric eeriness.  The ship is on its side and after 12 years is now covered in coral and the sea life has made it their home.  As a none certified wreck diver you can’t go into the wreck other than through a swim through of the hold, which was just enough small spaces for me.


This was a good dive to hone some buoyancy skills as you are swimming up, under and around the various protrusions of the ship, its mast, bulkheads and other lumps of metal.  As well as the wreck we got to see Giant Puffer fish, Masked Porcupine, Yellow Tail Barracuda shoals, Yellow Back Fusilier shoals (much smaller shoals than at Temple) and probably the highlight for me a group of four Lion Fish strutting about the wrecks struts.

The  D’Lagoon

Depth:                  17.4M

Dive time             63 minutes

Temperature:    30 C

Visibility:              10M

Dive Experience

We had reasonable visibility on this dive, and got to see a great variety of sea life.  For me though this dive was a turning point in my diving experience.  After my ‘forced’ improved buoyancy on the wreck dive yesterday I started to gain some confidence in my diving and this was improved further with the calm guidance and advice from Halla, our divemaster for the day.   I can truly say that there were times on this dive when I was in another world.  Peaceful, relaxed and almost silent as I bobbed along amazed at the variety of sights on offer here.


Blue Ringed Angel fish, Large Titan Triggerfish, Parrotfish, more Blue Spotted Stingray and this time I got to see this one swim gracefully through the water rather than lounging on the bottom. An absolutely enormous brown mottled Grouper a variety of Butterfly Fish and juvenile Yellow Box Fish.   The highlight for this dive apart form the enormous Grouper and Puffer Fish was a group of tiny Clown Fish about the size of your small finger nail nestling inside and Anemone while the parent came out and tried to scare us off. This territorial defence though was nothing compared to the aggressiveness of a white damsel fish that took a dislike to Halla and went for her on a number of occasions.  It’s a shame the little fellow was no bigger than your hand – feisty through – must have had Scottish roots.  Towards the end of the dive I got to see my first giant Moray Eel.   He was curled into a rock and as we approached (at a safe distance) he was there gnashing his teeth and I decided I was quite close enough.

Batu Layer

Depth:                  15.9M

Dive time             54 minutes

Temperature:    30 C

Visibility:              8-10M

Dive Experience

This was an OK dive with good but not great visibility, and an abundance of other divers.   This was probably the most congested of the sites we visited on my five dives.  You would see something large out of the corner of your eye hoping it would be some magnificent rarely sighted specimen only to find it was yet another group of divers.  On the whole though the sightings were similar to those at D’Lagoon.


I got to swim through shoals of fusiliers again on this dive and I have decided that I shall never tire of this experience.  It is truly majestic as hundreds of turn and dart away to let you through as if they are all behaving as a single entity.  Great experience.

The star of this dive through was our friendly green turtle that gave us a five minute show of swimming and eating while we hovered at a distance and watched him get on with his daily life.  I have seen turtles at all my dive sites so far both at Gili Air and at Bohol and they are always a pleasure to watch,  They have a serenity about them which is mesmeric.


Depth:                  19.2M

Dive time             52 minutes

Temperature:    30 C

Visibility:              5M

Dive Experience

This was a difficult dive for me as I had elected to borrow an underwater camera to try and capture some images.  I couldn’t have chosen a worse dive.  Technically this dive was a challenge, as the dive site is made up of lots of swim-through’s and caverns that mean you really have to focus on your buoyancy to make sure you are not barging into coral or rocks and doing yourself harm (I did manage a couple of scrapes).  Doing this and trying to control a camera was a little too much for me, but Halla and I (whom I handed the camera over towards the end of the dive) managed hopefully to get a few shots that I’ve shared here.

This dive is mostly about that technical challenge and the topography of the rock and coral formations around the site.  We did see some of the specimens I had witnessed on other dives, but this one was more about what didn’t move than what did.  It was a tricky challenge, but with my new found skills and confidence I was able to surface relatively unscathed without damaging any of the corals below.  A good dive to end on, even if the photography got kaiboshed.

I asked the Divemasters whether they ever get bored of going to the same dive sites, day after day, and they said no because with nature each day is different.  You never know what the currents will sweep in, what visibility will be like and what creatures will be out and about.

I would have liked to have continued diving here and stay longer, but with so much to see and do in Malaysia I had to force myself to leave this excellent dive shop and beautiful location.

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Posted in: Peninsula

3 Comments on "Dive Sites around the Perhentian Islands"

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  1. mon from oz says:

    Hello you two.
    I love reading your travels.
    Nice photos you may have found another occupation Craig
    I hope you enjoy Sabah and Sarawak, the people are amazing.
    I have created a facebook account, note the different christian name, I really do not want my clients to be able to find me on social media