Tioman Island or Pulau Tioman, as it is known locally, lies off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Only 90 minutes by ferry from Mersing Jetty (RM35 per trip) stopping at 3-4 beachside villages along the way to Salang Village in the north, beautiful turquoise waters and sandy white beaches will greet you on arrival. Tioman has become a famous spot for tourists to explore scuba diving, snorkelling, and relaxing, offering sunsets to die for and hikes to tropical waterfalls. Asah waterfall is one of the biggest on the Island that is located approximately six km from Mukut village in the south. Each village has a smattering of local shops and restaurants featuring local cuisine for your taste buds delight and a souvenir or two.
This Island is one of the most cost effective destinations in Asia to get certified at around RM 1000 approximately $250 for an Open Water Diver course. For the price you get classroom sessions for the theory, watch training videos, rental equipment included and five dives all with a qualified instructor. Once certified you are licenced to dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters and Tioman has several dive sites to this depth. There are multiple dive centres along the coast, with a range of accommodation options, be it a 5 star resort or RM50 a night chalet. For the certified diver, dives start at RM70 or $17 per shore dive and up to RM120 or $28 per boat dive.
Tioman has eight villages along its coastline, the largest and most popular one is Tekek in the north which has the small Airport and duty-free shops. Many travel here for a relaxing beach holiday; however, the island has many activities to those seeking an adventure. The dusty road that cuts through Tekek is mostly used by locals on motorcycles and visitors on rented bicycles. Renting a bike is a great way to explore the area, although you may need to carry it over the headland as you head towards Air Batang and Salang Villages.
Diving for Beginners
Tioman is a great dive destination for novice divers, with reasonably shallow reefs aplenty and little or no current, it’s an ideal location to practice buoyancy and hone your diving skills. The majority of dive sits are located near ABC and Salang Beach in the north, Soyak Island is a small rocky islet a short boat ride from Salang, ideal for novices. The reefs around the Islet go no deeper than 15 meters and are awash with critters, reef fish and a turtle or two. The house reef and the jetty are also great for beginners as well as Lapas which has a few swim troughs for the more adventurous, these dive site are very easy and perfect for beginners.
Best Dive Sites
Teluk Kador – This dive site has stunning marine life with amazing coral, it is known as one of the best places to dive in Tioman Island. You can see turtles, lobsters, sharks as well as moray eels. It can make a great drift dive when there is current.
Tiger Reef – You need an Advanced Open Water certificate to dive this site as the currents can sometimes be strong and max depth is about 24 meters. Littered with large and small boulders, you can encounter large schools of Jacks, Mackerel, Barracuda and Rainbow Runners on almost every dive. You will also find a myriad of Nudibranchs, schooling fish, Angel Fish, Puffer Fish, Bat Fish, Emperors, Titan Trigger Fish, Parrot Fish, the list goes on.
Magician Rock – Due to strong currents, it is best to be an Advanced Open Water diver. Water clarity is fantastic and there are many resident turtles as well as fish wondering around the rocks. However, be warned that not many boatmen can locate Magician’s rock as it is unmarked and there is a slight undercurrent.
Sawadee Wrecks – Two wooden wrecks covered with soft corals. Hard coral can also be found in the shallower areas as well as reef sharks and turtles, reef fish will be everywhere, but if you focus on the rocks you will notice the huge variety of nudibranchs living there.
Renggis Island – Is a well-known and popular dive site around Tioman Island, home to Black Tip reef shark, Hawksbill & Green turtles as well as cuttlefish.
Lapas – This dive site is known for its swim through, nudibranchs, juvenile fish as well as turtles and black tip reef sharks.
For more information on dive-sites near Tioman – http://www.scubaplex.com/go-divers/location/149-scuba-diving-tioman/dive_sites
Getting to Tioman
Travel costs approximately RM250 if you go by coach and ferry. There is a flight option but it’s pricey: System Aviation Services (SAS) run a daily flight in a 10 passenger Cessna Grand and can cost around RM2500 for a round trip. Total Travel time by road and ferry is approximately 7 hours dependant on traffic and ferry times. The best option is to take a slow overnight coach from KL to Mersing, catch a few zzz’s and arrive in Mersing at around 6 am to catch the 7.30am ferry to Tioman – you’ll get there by mid morning.
Best time to visit Tioman
The dive season for Tioman starts in late February and ends in early November. Monsoon season is between November and February, big swells and lots of rain make the area risky for diving.
Photos, Videos and more on Tioman – http://www.scubaplex.com/go-divers/location/149-scuba-diving-tioman