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!

Diving 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.

Diving Perhentians

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!

Diving Perhentians

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.

temple of the sea perhentianIn front of the tip of the temple

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!


Stay tuned for more!

  • Wow wow wow, what a magical place to go diving!!! Love your pics.

    • Alex
      April 29 2011

      Andi you must go! Its on my list to return to 🙂

  • Camels & Chocolate
    August 1 2011

    Cute pictures! I also did the Advanced Open Water certificate while in Bonaire, and I agree–it’s just a ploy to make money! I don’t feel like any better a diver than I did with just my basic Open Water =)

    • Alex
      August 3 2011

      I know! And I didn’t end up doing my AOW for a year so that “adventure dive” didn’t even count towards it. Not that I can complain because, um, I got my certification for free! Perks of the dive instructor boyfriend.

  • Janice Stringer
    October 15 2014

    The Perhentians was the first place I encountered reef sharks – snorkeling off Turtle Beach – they circled us from below as we swam back to shore. Our free diving skills growing stronger meant we could stay and play amongst the corals and marine life a little longer each time.
    It was one of the most magical beaches and reefs i’d seen our our travels and it was privilege to share it with my family. Fantastic

    • Alex
      October 17 2014

      That may have been the very first place I saw them as well! Magical creatures.

  • Sarah
    July 1 2015

    Hi Alex! I’m an American staying in KL for a bit. Dove in Perhentian about a month ago with Turtle Bay Divers. We dove Pinnacle, T3, Shark Point, and a night dive at Batu Nisan. After reading this post, I wish I’d seen Sugar Wreck as well. Regardless, I had a great experience and would love to go back (especially to hunt for more nudibranch!). There’s just so much there. I just found your blog today (was googling “dive master courses”), and I love it! Keep up the good work!

    • Alex
      July 2 2015

      Thanks Sarah! So glad you found me. Diving is the Perhentians is the best! I have such happy memories of that place. Glad you enjoyed it!

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