After days of eye problems keeping us above sea level, we were finally ready to take the plunge. After all, we had come to the Perhentians in part for the virgin reefs fringing the islands.
We dove with the in-house dive shop at our bungalow, making it easy to roll out of bed and wade out to the dive boat. On our first diving day we headed out for a two-tank trip, hitting two of the island’s most famous dive sites: Sugar Wreck and Terumbu Tiga, or T3. As we headed out my eyes were still a bit sensitive but I was determined to scuba dive the Perhentians!
Sugar wreck was my first ever wreck dive and I was required to complete a PADI “Adventure Dive” in order to do it. The cynic in me says this was a ploy to get me to do my Advanced Open Water course, as it basically consisted of paying more money and pointing to the buoy line a few times throughout the dive. Descending down the line, I was awestruck by the amount of life. Nurse sharks, lionfish and barracuda lurked around the sunken ship ominously, and we swam through the swirling, inky evidence of squid or octopus.
Heading into the wreck, we swam towards an air pocket the divemaster had told us about beforehand. At the time, this was only my seventh ever dive, and my buoyancy control was lacking, to say the least. In my excitement I started to shoot up towards the air pocket, not seeing the metal beam directly in the path of my head. Luckily my dive buddies were a bit more keen than I, and Mark and the divemaster simultaneously yanked me away before any damage was done. Embarassing? Yes. Better than being med evaced off the island? Also yes. My shame evaporated quickly as I marveled at being able to breathe with no air tank, 50 feet under water.
Our next dive was to T3, a favorite site amongst divemasters for its swim-throughs, caves, and microlife known as nudibranches. This was a big day of firsts for me, and lacking any experience with swimthroughs I was so focused on getting through the tunnels and trying not to knock into everything and kill anything, that I have almost no other memories of the dive!
On one of our last days on the island, we headed out for our final dive and what would become one of our best memories of the trip. Tokong Laut, or Temple of the Sea, is the superstar of Perhentian Island diving. Its topography alone would be impressive, an undersea mountain emerging at the surface as only a small blip on the horizon, but below there was more untouched marine life than I have ever seen. I only regret that I didn’t have the diving experience to remember the names of what I was looking at or the camera skills to capture it!
(All underwater photos in these posts are taken with the borrowed camera of a friend, and we really didn’t know how to use it very well.) What I can remember is Mark and I looking at each other underwater, seeing the excitement in each others eyes, and signing frantically to each other over the magic of it all. We were even lucky enough to see the resident three-legged turtle that we had been briefed on! It was my first time seeing one underwater, and it was love at first site. Even with my limited technical skills and inexperience, to this day this is one of the best dives of my life.
Keeping with my recent video clip theme, I put together a short video of our boat ride back to the dock. My camera skills weren’t what they are today, but you can get an idea for the amazing topography of the Perhentians. At the end of the video we pull right up the bungalows we were staying in. Enjoy![youtube=https://youtube.com/watch?v=MRJ1HzGQ3LY]
Stay tuned for more!