Pulau Redang's Best Dives ~ Terengganu, Malaysia


There are numerous dive sites in the area with different places suitable for different levels of dive proficiency. We have compiled a number of the more popular dive sites for you which have differing terrain and lifeforms to explore. It's best to check out each dive site before you plunge in. Then you will be able to request for dive sites that suit you best rather than be herded around by dive instructors; not knowing what to expect and what to look out for when you're there. Experienced divers are constantly searching for new sites around the islands, so keep your ears peeled for any news on this as usually they tend to be little secrets kept amongst dive groupies.

Please note: at different times of the day, you may be able to see different marine life. Also weather conditions vary with the season and tidal changes.All these and other factors may affect the conditions at the dive location. What we have here is a general observation at time of dive. Do check with your dive instructor on the conditions of the dive site you wish to explore.

1. Batu Che Esa(Mini Mount)

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

sketch from log book

Time: In 15:35 Out 16:05
Depth: min: 8m /25ft max: 20m/65ft
Coral: ****
Fish: *****

This is a very popular site for both day and night dives; and most divers start their dive tours here. Divers descend from the buoyline marking the area. 2 large boulders and 2 smaller ones create a coral pass where large Freckled Porcupine fish(Diodon holocanthus) and yellow pufferfish sometimes float pass in groups. A variety of corals such as the Dendronepthya sp (looks a bit like villi lining the walls of our stomachs) cover the rock faces here. Tubastrea corals, sea squirts, healthy barrel sponges, and stinging hydroids make up a beautiful little rock garden here.

The Bluespotted Ray(Taeniura lymma) glides effortlessly on the sandy seafloor, foraging for food. If you can, look under the table corals( Acropora hyacinthus) -.there may be a large coral grouper (Cephalopholis miniata) hiding here. Groupers are large and bulky and their shape does not allow for great speed. Hence they take cover in holes and under corals lying in wait to surprise their prey, usually small creaturessuch as anthias, eels, crabs and octopus.
sketch from log book

Schools of pelagic fish can be found snooping around like the Horse-eyed Jacks and trevallies. The boulders and coral formations provide nooks and crannies for all sorts of smaller organisms to live in. Barrel sponges (Xestospongia testudinara) provide good bases for feather stars to cling onto. These appendages are not parts of the sponge but are in fact distant relatives of the starfish. Feather stars(Comantina SP) extend its arms out to trap planktonic food drifting by in sporadic current flows. These creatures come in a variety of colours which adds to the effervescent beauty of these reef gardens. Other smaller reef fishes fluttering around the corals are the Bennett's Butterflyfish, the longfin bannerfish (which look similar to a Moorish Idol) and the Blue-ringed Angelfish.


2. Terumbu Putih(Big Mount)


(Difficulty: Advanced level and higher)



sketch from log book

Time: In 11:00 Out 11:40
Depth: min: 18m/59ft max: 35m/114ft
Coral: *****
Fish: ****

The little tip for this dive is to attempt it as the first dive of the day. If you've done multi-level diving that day, then you may not be able to really explore the area in greater detail. This is a deep dive and can be challenging especially during spring tides where there are no markers present. Divers have to descend immediately upon arrival, all the way down to the peak of the mount some 18m below the surface. Here, divers get to see Black Corals (Antipathes sp.), whip corals and sea anemones fiercely guarded by tomato or pink anemonefish. The anemonefish is a fascinating fish and has rapidly become a favourite with marine aquarium enthusiasts. Fiercely territorial, the adult couples can tolerate a few juveniles sharing their anemone but not other adults. The female is the larger of the pair. If anything should happen to the adult female, the adult male transforms into a breeding female to take her place and one of the juveniles will quickly take on the role of the breeding male. Anemonefish are hermaphroditic , that is, they can change sexes to suit the situation and all anemonefish are protandrous hermaphrodites which means that they are all males and then convert later to females when need be.

Soft corals such as Dendronephthya sp. thrives on the walls of the boulders and can be seen spread out from 10m to 30m depth. These corals bloom in a rainbow of colours and have been called 'wildflowers of the sea'. The famous Gorgonian Sea Fan is found on the vertical walls of these large boulders. Its colour usually ranges from cream to pale pinkish orange but a variance of red is due to a thin layer of algae coating. Sea fans are so named because its intricate net of meshes fan out to catch floating plankton with its wriggling polyps. It grows slowly but can measure more than 3-4m(10-13ft) if left alone. Interestingly, researchers are analysing the chemical substance secreted by these sea fans in their endless quest to find a way to inhibit cancer growth.

Yellow-tail barracudas, reef sharks, black and white tip sharks, turtles, the occasional Spanish mackerel, yellowtail fusiliers, sweet-lips, giant groupers have been seen roaming about. And it seems, there have even been occasional encounters with whale sharks and manta rays.

3. Batu Mat Chantek

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

sketch from Dennis Ho's log book

Time: In 17:35 Out 18:10
Depth: min: 5m /15ft max: 18m/60ft
Coral: ****
Fish: *****

Divers descend with a buoyline at this site onto a submerged reef piled high with boulders. For first time open water divers, use the buoyline to guide you down as there may be a mild current that can pull you away from the group. The boulders are plastered with soft and hard corals alike. Sea anemones, barrel sponges with alabaster sea cucumbers stringed around them, feather stars, table corals, brain corals, staghorns and mushroom corals abound here. Mushroom corals (fungia sp.) are generally solitary and usually come in shades of brown and yellow. These corals are unique in that they are able to move around. They can dislodge themselves and are capable of slow lateral movements using their tentacles to propel themselves.

Nudibranchs are common sightings at Mat Chantek and so are beautiful denizens such as the butterflyfish, damselfish, yellow boxfish, rabbitfish, triggerfish, cardinalfish, and coral groupers. Common stingrays are found on the sandy bottom surrounding the reef. Yellow -tailed barracudas swim around the reefs in groups, trevallies, permits, yellow and gold fusiliers are relatively common too. As the current sweeps into the reefs, it brings larger pelagic or free swimmers into the area where they search for food. Sometimes fish fries swarm together forming almost a solid body to confuse their predators such as the yellow tailed barracudas. These fish fries move in unison and even make sharp turns all together in one sweep.

Diving at Mat Chantek, one gets the feeling that one is actually swimming in an aquarium at Monterey Sea World rather than in the open sea. It's rich, rich, RICH with marine life- a great introduction to sea life.

4. Black Coral Garden

(Difficulty: advanced level and higher)

Photo courtesy of Moti Uttam

Time: In 15:00 Out 15:40
Depth: min: 10m/30ft max: 35m/113ft
Coral: *****
Fish: ***
Black corals (antipathes sp.) are plentiful here and their home ranges from 10m to 35m. Black corals used to be harvested for jewellery but is now fully protected within the park circumference. Many other tropical reefs in the Indo-Pacific area are still being exploited for such economic reasons. Along with this collection of black corals are rare shrimps, sometimes seahorses and razor fish that take protection amongst the polyps of the corals. These little creatures may be a bit difficult to spot for the untrained eye..so do follow your dive instructor closely and he or she may be able to spot one or two specimens for you. Stonefish have been found in recesses of the rocks, well camouflaged to the colours of the rocks and corals. Colonies of algae attach onto the body of this sedentary creature helps it blend with the surroundings. So be careful - do not hold on to rocks as, if provoked, the Stonefish injects powerful poison into its victim through the hollow spines of its dorsal fins. Also watch out for triggerfishes. They are particularly aggressive during their nesting season and will attack unsuspecting divers if it feels that its territory is threatened.

5. North of Pulau Lima

(Difficulty: advanced level and higher)
sketch from log book

Time: In 15:30 Out 16:15
Depth: min: 10m/30ft max: 30m/100ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ***

When the tide changes course especially during spring tide, divers can experience a rush from the drift dive experience here. Circular spadefish or commonly known as batfishes crowd curiously around divers upon descending. There are a variety of corals here which include the whip corals, acropora such as table corals and staghorns, wrinkled soft corals nestled in the crags of the continuous build of hard corals; rough knobbly corals are seen scattered along the reef and deeper are the gorgeous pink Gorgonian Sea Fans. Titan Triggerfishes dart in and out of caverns, warily watching us as we sink deeper into the bowels of the sea. Once in a while, the Giant Wrasse makes its visit. These great ancient-looking beasts may throw a new diver off-guard as it edges slowly away but they really are quite harmless - no worries!

Don't forget to practice the safety stop on ascent!

6. Southern End of Pulau Lima

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

sketch from log book

Time: In 9:35 Out 10:10
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 18m/60ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ***
A speedboat ride of about 5mins from Pasir Panjang Beach took us to the Southern tip of Pulau Lima. The descend took us down to the first shelf of hard coral terrain and gently led us down to the second tier before levelling off at a depth of 18m. This led us towards the south west where huge bommies of Porite Coral (porites lutea) are found. These porites and together with other hard and soft corals ,form the basis of reefs. Bommies are one of Indo-Pacific's principle reef builders. Reef topography is built by live organisms. So when you see a reef structure, what you're actually looking at are layers of coral skeletons and remains of other reef animals cemented together through a continuous calcification process. This process of reef building stretches over millions of years as layers of skeletons are placed over layers. New life grow over these dead layers and the piling continues. When we immerse ourselves in such beauty, we usually do not realise that this underwater garden is the world's oldest and most complex ecosystem rivalled only by the tropical rain forest.

Not long after descending, we noticed 4 yellow-tailed barracudas tailing us. Perhaps they were sent to scout out the situation because as we turned around to face them - they swiftly swam back to rejoin the remaining school of 20 a distance away. The barracudas' presence remains a little unnerving but after a while of getting used to, we realise that they are harmless and will retain a standard distance of perhaps 20 or 30feet from divers. Other pelagics such as horse-eyed jacks and big-eyed trevallies hover around during feeding times and sometimes a rainbow runner or two would swing by for a meal.

But one thing, the month of May onwards the waters are swarming with jellyfish. Great for the breeding turtles where food is in abundance but maybe not so good for divers or snorkellers. The change in tides and the monsoon season closing in may bring these jellyfishes in from the open sea. I'm not really sure what type of jellyfishes they are, but to avoid getting stung, wear a full-length wet suit.

7. Pulau Ekor Tebu

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

Time: In 15:10 Out 15:50
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 20m/70ft
Coral: *****
Fish: ***

A wonderful array of hard corals found here including the blue corals(heliopora coerulea). Wrinkled soft coral(sarcophyton trocheliophorum) growing up to 3ft/1m across are found closer to the surface. When its polyps are fully extended out during feeding, the coral has a furry appearance. But has a smooth, leathery texture when the polyps are retracted. Sometimes when these wrinkled soft corals will interlock with each other in groups over a section of the reef - looking like a misplaced white rug.

Nestled amongst the hard corals, are little protruding blue/purple laces. A closer inspection reveals the Tridacna crocea. The Giant Clam. They live in small cracks in shallow reef flats and near the upper reef surfaces where they can receive maximum sunlight. Clams flourish in the Indo-Pacific oceans because of its symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae. These are what we know as algae and the algae need sunlight for its photosynthesis activity. The zooxanthellae takes up the carbon and phosphates dissolved in the sea water. Through photosynthesis,the algae convert them into oxygen and various organic compounds which is released into the clam's bloodstream. But why do they have such colourful mantles? Through years of evolution, clams have adapted to the intense sunlight by developing a protective pigmentation - sort of like sunblock. Vibrant shades of blue, green, brown and yellow characterise their mantles.

The corals are perfect nesting sites for triggerfishes. These fishes sometimes feed on the sea urchins also found in the area. Sea urchins wear an armour of the long spines, which are used to pierce their enemies. The lodged brittle spines break off in the enemies' flesh and can inflict a lot of pain. To avoid direct contact with the sea urchins, Triggerfishes blow jets of water under the urchins to topple them so that the fish can feed on the soft under-body.

8. Batu Ling(Ling Rock)

(Difficulty: open water and higher)


drawing courtesy of Dennis Ho

Time: In 11:05 Out 11:50
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 20m/70ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ***

The tip of Ling rock breaking out of the water marks the area. Underneath the surface, a continuous plateau formed by the Acropora sp. spreads right across to Pulau Chupak nearby. Please refer to map for dive sites. This dive site is generally an easy dive with a spread of soft corals on the Porite formations If possible, this may be a good place to search for the smaller organisms such as the Spanish dancer or other Nudibranchs, the mandarin fish, the ghost pipefish and crustaceans. One may encounter small troopes of cuttlefish flitting by. But when we dived here then, visibility was only 25ft caused by the early morning rains.

9. Pulau Chupak

(Difficulty: open water and higher)
photo courtesy of Moti Uttam

Time: In 15:15 Out 14:00
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 18m/60ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ****

A rocky underwater terrain suitable for experienced divers as it can be a little choppy in this open area. Way back in '98,there used to be a carpet full of Sinularia Coral (flexible soft corals) on the north eastern face of the boulder from as shallow as 5meters below the surface..if you do dive the area..it would be great if you could update this site. Just drop us a line at pappy@journeymalaysia.com

Green turtles cruise this area for food and there have been sightings of a loggerhead turtle, which is good news as these turtles are a rare find in these waters. The Porite formations host a variety of sea creatures such as the white-eyed moray eels. The general reef fishes such as the sergeant majors, the schooling bannerfishes, the Blue-Ring Angelfish, coral groupers, yellow boxfish, eight banded butterflyfish, the odd parrotfish, pairs of rabbitfish, batfishes. The black-spotted pufferfish and two-line spine cheeks have been seen here. But, going on macro, try spotting the nudibranchs, flatworms and look out for the colony of christmas tree worms - like tips of bottle brushes, they come in all sorts of colours: blue, red, orange, yellow..definitely lights up my dives!

Generally a good recreational dive site for those who are keen to spot fishes that they have read so much about in our Coral Reef and Fishes section!

10. Pulau Paku Besar

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

drawing courtesy of Dennis Ho

Time: In 15:15 Out 15:50
Depth: min: 10m/30ft max: 30m/100ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ***

A 5min boat ride from Pasir Panjang beach where divers are dropped off at the northeastern tip of the Paku Besar island. Depending on the current situation, your dive instructor will take you round to the sea facing front to explore the Acropora based reef. Humphead Parrotfish in schools of 20 or so have taken up residence here. These peculiar looking fishes graze on the corals and can be heard chomping on hard corals. They can grow up to 120cm and are extremely shy animals, usually moving away when divers approach. Parrotfish are so-called because their front teeth are fused into beak-like plates - ideal for picking hard corals and algae. Together with the algae, they consume a huge amount of rock particles which are ground by special teeth at the back of the throat. The rock particles are pulverised into sand which is used to help digest the plant matter. This fine white sand is later passed out of the body with the faeces. Like a sand-making machine, the parrotfish contribute greatly in building white, sandy beaches on the islands. At night or when napping during the day, they are found sleeping in herds for safety.

Do keep an eye on the open ocean as schools of pelagic such as tunas and rainbow runners sometimes circumnavigate the reefs.

11. Pulau Kerengga Kecil (Little Ant island)

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

photo courtesy of Moti Uttam

Time: In 11:18 Out 11:56
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 18m/60ft
Coral: ***
Fish: ***

Good diving ground for new divers or divers who have little experience in open seas. Clusters of large Porite boulders become cleaning stations where cleaner wrasses(Labroides dimidiatus) service their customers by picking parasites off their mouth, body and gill chamber. Other fishes recognise these cleaners by their characteristic colour pattern and their bobbing movements and usually the cleaning stations are set up in relatively permanent locations. The cleaner wrasse grows to a length of between 8 and 12cms and is the only creature (apart from cleaner shrimps who conduct exactly the same service) who can freely dart in and out of the mouths of large predators without the fear of being eaten. Some of its regular clients are nurse sharks, giant black stingrays and even barracudas. Sometimes business is so good that a queue builds up at the service station! So don't forget to look in crevices and under the boulders for some action. Bring a torch with you.

12. Pinang Wreck

(Difficulty: open water and higher)

photo courtesy of Moti Uttam

Time: In 09:30 Out 10:15
Depth: min: 5m/15ft max: 18m/60ft
Coral: ****
Fish: ****

This old 15M freightship is a good place to dive as it is pretty much protected from the strong currents. During low tide, the tip of the freightship can be seen protruding out of the water. A 15min boatride will take you to the marine park centre where the ship lies. Soft and hard corals cover the deck of the ship. Luscious Dendronephthya and gorgonian sp. spill over one side and clusters of Tubastrea sp. fill the other making room for stacks of staghorns. The last time we were there, a school of oriental sweet lips were found napping at the hull of the ship.

Travel & Leisure

Trivago - Book your accommodation, easy and hassle free

Touristly

Hotels.com - Plan your trips, book your accommodation at affordable rates

Adventoro - Adventure Trips in Malaysia awaits

Ctrip - Book your accommodation, specialises in China and rest of Asia

Trip Hobo - Book Tours and Activities

Travelio.com - book an apartment, villa or house in Indonesia

Club Med

Transportation

BusOnlineTicket - Booking long distance buses, ferry, trains in Malaysia

Catch That Bus - Online booking for buses, trains and ferries in Malaysia

Malaysia Airlines - Malaysia's National and Premier airlines

Qatar Airways

Emirates Airways

Airpaz - Flight Booking for Cheap Airline Tickets Made Easy

Jetradar - searches travel and airline sites to help you find cheap flights at best prices

RC9 - Compare prices from small, medium sized and large car rental companies

Getting You Settled

Amazin'graze - Healthy Snacks & Breakfast ideas

A one - Search for lessons, tutors, instructors and classes in your area

Cameralah! - Online camera shop

Babydash - purchase and delivers items to your doorstep

Cat & The Fiddle - Cheescake delivery

Digi - Your Postpaid Telco plan

Dim Sum - A variety of Asian movies online

Flower Advisor - Malaysia's online florist

HLA - Hong Leong AssuranceHonestBee - Online Concierge and Delivery in Malaysia

Kinokuniya - Premier bookstore in Malaysia is now online

The Lorry - lorry and movers rental services in Malaysia

Moma Wosh - Laundry and Delivery Service

Photobook

Printcious - Print on tshirts, mugs etc

Recommend.my - aircon service and cleaning express service

Servis Hero - Need an electrician, a pumber , movers, cleaners?

The Star epaper - Get your daily local and international news right here!

TIME Internet - 100% Fibre Home Broadband up to 500MBPS High Speed Internet

Lazada - Online shopping made easier

Senheng - Electronics store

Gameon - For hardcore gamers

Medical Departures - doctors and surgeons in Malaysia

Dental Departures - dental experts in Malaysia

GetDoc - Check out our exclusive health screening packages