Diving in Pulau Perhentian – Facts Sheet
Destination : Pulau Perhentian
Country : Malaysia
Temperature : 31-34°C
Season : March to September
How to go : By bus, approx 8 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut, then take the 1 hour ferry. By air, fly from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bahru, followed by a 45 min taxi ride to Kuala Besut
The twin tropical paradise islands of Pulau Perhentian, Besar (big) and Kecil (Small), are situated 20km off of the Malaysian peninsular on its eastern coast. The islands used to be a stopping off point for merchants and trader ships about a hundred or so years ago, hence the name Pulau Perhentian (“One stop island” in English).
Nowadays the islands are incorporated as two of the jewels of Terengganu Marine Park. Home to a diverse range of marine life, including many kinds of coral and reef fish and with several great dive sites around, Pulau Perhentian is becoming ever popular with divers.
One of the most popular dive sites in Pulau Perhentian is known as Tokong Laut. The site is a series of awe inspiring pinnacles and boulders that offer shelter and food to all kinds of aquatic life. Boxfish and puffer fish are both delightful and commonly seen in this area, along with assorted anemone fish amongst the vivid and colorful corals.
Also to be seen are barracudas, tuna and even whale sharks if you get lucky.
An old landing craft from the Vietnam War era, the Pasir Tani wreck was used by Vietnamese boat people in a failed attempt to escape to Malaysia. The wreck is in quite shallow waters, at a depth of just 20m and remains in an upright position.
Growth of soft coral on the wreck is quite extensive now and it is home to plentiful lion fish and barracudas. Be aware that visibility can be quite limited on certain days when there are strong currents.
An attempt by the Malaysian government to make an artificial reef also offers an intriguing dive. The Rubix Cube Reef is named after the assorted jumble of different sized concrete blocks dumped her alongside an old Vietnamese fishing boat wreck.
The thinking behind the idea is that the new artificial reef would attract fish for the nearby fishing villages, but although the waters are now teeming with fish, as expected, the fishermen have disappeared.
Fishing nets don’t mix too well with concrete blocks and so the fish have indeed found themselves a very safe haven that is just begging to be explored by divers. The interesting and varied biodiversity here includes soft coral, boxfish, scorpion fish, puffer fish, lion fish and sweetlips.
There are around 15 good dive sites in total around Pulau Perhentian, and the islands are home to several dive schools. The idyllic surroundings and clear blue waters, coupled with the beautiful beaches and warm year round temperatures make Pulau Perhentian a very tempting place to come and visit.