Our Virgin Scuba Diving Trip in Pulau Tenggol Island, Terengganu
Malaysia has some of the best and finest scuba diving spots in the world and it will be a shame if we don’t see it for ourselves. We have heard and seen so many great scuba diving adventures and we felt it was time for us to learn and experience it ourselves. The first step is always the hardest, we wanted to learn scuba diving for years and only lately we decided to learn with a recommended scuba diving instructor. Many might think scuba diving is tough and hard, but trust us it is easier than we thought. However there is also health risks involved so having a strict and mature instructor is very important. We learnt from Lo Kean Leong ([email protected]), an experience scuba diving instructor with many years of diving and teaching experience. Thus, for our PADI Scuba Diving test, we decided to do it in Pulau Tenggol (Island) in Terengganu via Dunggun town.
We drove to Dunggun from Kuala Lumpur and it took us around 5 hours with legal speed limits. Drive to Karak Highway and follow the sign to Kuala Terengganu, exit near Kuantan and pass thru Cherating. In Dunggun town, ask around for the jetty as the road signs are quite confusing. The jetty is located near the huge bridge in Dunggun and it is a private jetty for Tenggol Island Beach Resort only. I am not sure whether the other resorts are sharing the same jetty. We parked our car at the private jetty.
We were told that the tides were high and sea was rough so we had to keep our bags inside the boat compartments to keep it dry.
Without even 15 min sailing into the sea, we were treated free splashes and sea water. I always wanted a sea-salt spa but this was not I expected. This was the effects or tail of typhoon Ma-on which hit Japan, Taiwan and Philippines a few days earlier. We got wet and cold due to the strong winds but we liked it.
After an hour of sailing, we reached Pulau Tenggol, the southernmost island in the state of Terengganu, Malaysia.
The water was crystal clear and you can see clearly how strong was the sea waves.
This picture looks similar to many postcard pictures available out there. This picture is not taken from Maldives, Fiji or Mauritius, this is Pulau Tenggol in Terengganu Malaysia.
While many can afford to pay thousands to visit exotic countries, we can have experience similar beauty in our home country, Malaysia.
Pulau Tenggol is very laid back and popular for scuba divers. The real reason we chose Pulau Tenggol for our PADI Open Water exam is there are more diving sites around and also the beach is just next to the resort. Thus, we don’t really need to walk far with our BCD and tank behind our back. Since we are beginners, let’s do the thing the easy way.
The Tenggol Island Beach Resort is a small resort with a few wooden chalet rooms with a coffee shop.
With a book or coffee, many would enjoy the breezing winds and the sun at the resort.
There is also a hammock there were often guests were caught taking a nap in the afternoon.
Right after we reached Pulau Tenggol, we prepared ourselves for our first open water diving. That’s me with the tight suit.
That was us before our virgin open water dive session.
Before we go to the sea, we went for our first open water diving at Turtle Point near the island. We practise there until the instructor is satisfied with our progress only we can proceeds for our first sight-seeing or leisure dive. Hence, before this we had two scuba diving lessons in a swimming pool in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Why is it better to learn in swimming pool first? Rachel is a good swimmer but I am not. In addition, I can’t “stand” in the water surface properly so I did have some fear about the whole scuba diving thing.
Before I start, I talked to a few season divers and they agreed that it is the best to learn at the pool first rather than doing the whole thing on the beach/island. We had a long discussion with our instructor before we start the course and he gave us a lot of explanations and details about it. After two lessons in the pool, we did great and we had the confidence before the real dive.
My first drop to the sea was anxious but fun. As expected, I took quite a number of deep breaths but I wasn’t panic.
We practise all the exercises we did in the pool at Turtle Point. The feeling is similar but the environment is different. We can dive in to 18 feet and practise our “hovering” there.
We also practise all the steps we needed as from the PADI license requirement. The first dive was unexpectedly fun.
Though we were practising but we were still able to see the underwater sea life like never before. We were on our own and we were at a different “universe”. All the stress and the unhappiness can be well forgotten here as it is dead silence down there. No sms, no Internet and no calls. It is just you and your buddy diving underwater, it is your world!
The first dive was good and promising. However due to my physical size, I was having trouble taking my fins off.
We did two dives on the first day and we took break in between and this is a must for scuba divers to prevent decompression sickness. A person can do a maximum of three to four dives a day based on the depth and the duration of each dive.
Pulau Tenggol Island Beach Resort offers three meals and a tea time a day. The tea time is in between lunch and dinner and usually served with delicious Malaysian desserts. All the meals are cooked by the Malay staffs.
The sunset view at Pulau Tenggol was a beauty. We had our dinner with the backdrop of the beautiful sunset. We took the PADI written exam and I managed to finish it within 20 minutes. The max time for the written exam is one and half hour. The passing mark is 75% and I scored 90% and Rachel scored 80%. For the practical exam, our instructor will initiate all the steps and evaluate us during our dives. Yeah, we passed our exams and now waiting for our PADI license.
The second day we did four dives, three dives near the island and one leisure dive. We went to Turtle Point, Five Sisters and Gua Rajawali. Both Five Sisters and Gua Rajawali are deeper than 10m so we had to make sure not to go deeper than our limit. We did get the chill when we couldn’t the bottom but with our practise dives, we had no problems. With the guidance of our instructor, there was not even a single bad incident during the whole trip.
On third day, we left Pulau Tenggol with a few new friends. They are seasoned divers Ahmad Zaki and Amardeep. Thanks for sharing the amazing scuba diving stories as well as those magical underwater pictures.
We departed Pulau Tenggol with a heavy heart and we are looking forward for more diving trips in the near future. Our instructor Lo Kean Leong ([email protected]) went to Sipadan after that and planning their next scuba diving trip to Christmas Island.
For those who wants to learn from an experience PADI certified scuba diving instructor like us, please contact Lo Kean Leong ([email protected]).
For all the pictures of our Pulau Tenggol Island trip, please click HERE.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the world’s largest recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.