The words and pictures for this guide to Tioman Island scuba diving holidays in tropical paradise, have been provided by Martin Ritter of B&J Diving Centre in Tioman. Who better than a local expert to provide top quality information for our lovely readers?
Close your eyes and imagine pristine coral gardens teeming with life in crystal clear waters, gentle waves lapping against white sandy beaches located at the foot of ancient mountainous rainforests. It sounds like the “happy place” we all go to when work is too much and life is getting us down.
An imaginary place to block out the stress of the day. But this isn’t just some fantasy land our subconscious has created to placate our desire to unwind. This place is real and it’s a little known island tucked away in the South China Sea called Tioman.
Tioman Island is part of Malaysia and lies 32 km off the east coast of the country. So what are you waiting for head to Tioman Island for Scuba diving holidays in tropical paradise.
Tioman caters for a wide variety of clientele. From high end luxurious 5 star resorts to eccentric backpacker style chalets, there is a little slice of paradise to suit every budget. Chill out on beautiful beaches and snorkel the shallow reefs that fringe the island. Enjoy the local cuisine and sample life in quiet kampungs (villages) while watching the setting sun.
Those that visit Tioman for diving are spoilt for choice when it comes to venturing under the waves as the island hosts some of the biggest and best scuba diving operators in Malaysia. The diving here is world class and the area’s unique granite boulder geology makes for fascinating underwater scenery.
Incredible rock formations create exciting corridors and swim-throughs just begging to be explored. The reefs are swarming with a myriad of marine life and the sites here are perfect for nudibranch lovers.
Diving is seasonal around Tioman with most dive centres closing for the monsoon months of November through to January. The best diving is usually during March to May and September to October where the visibility can reach well over 20 meters.
This guide to Tioman Island scuba diving holidays would not be complete without talking about the best dive sites in Tioman. You can dive the five spots below with B&J Dive Centre.
A submerged pinnacle that’s nourished by ocean currents and home to a carpet of soft and hard corals, barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans.
You normally spot white eyed moray eels, hunting trevally and rainbow runners, plus the occasional guitar shark or whale shark. Under overhanging rocks you’ll find white tip reef sharks and nurse sharks. It is also a great spot for macro diving, with many species of nudibranch and other critters.
This is a hidden reef harking back to the untouched Tioman of yesteryear. Huge pristine corals densely cover this vast site that is known only to the most established dive companies in Tioman such as B&J Dive Centre.
Because it is dived only by those lucky few, there are regular sightings of black tip reef sharks and eagle rays, plus swarms of local reef fish that make this secret site their home.
Located north of Coral Island lies Chebeh. All levels of diver can enjoy the varied underwater topography and stunning granite rock formations, including a swim-through at 19m where juvenile barracudas hang out.
The reef is home to a great range of macro life. But keep an eye out for schooling barracuda, bat fish, hunting trevally and pods of dolphins.
The Swiss Cheese of Tioma. Scuba dive in a maze of swim-throughs around this rocky island. Keep an eye out for turtles, bump head parrot fish and larger sharks in the deeper parts of the site.
This 31m long Royal Navy ship was sunk in 2012 to create an artificial reef. Sitting in 30m of water with two Thai fishing boats of the Sawadee wrecks.
These wrecks attract an abundance of schooling snapper, yellow tail barracuda, fusiliers, families of lion-fish and huge stone fish. You can even dive inside the Sipadan.
Getting to Tioman is easy and affordable. If you’re travelling from Kuala Lumpur, jump on one of the many busses at TBS station scheduled for Mersing. The ride takes about 6 hours.
If you’re travelling from Singapore, take a coach directly to Mersing. A cheaper option is to take a shuttle bus across the causeway and through border control into Malaysia. Make your way to Larkin bus terminal in the border city of Johor Bahru and jump on a coach for a 3 hour ride to Mersing.
If you prefer to travel in a little more comfort, you can hire a taxi. Obviously it’s more expensive but it will shave a couple of hours off your travelling time. For those not on a budget, you can even fly to Tioman in little over an hour on a chartered plane from Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Ferries depart for Tioman daily from Mersing jetty terminal and the crossing takes about 2 hours. Remember to book tickets in advance and to bring a jumper on board as it can get pretty chilly!
Most nationalities can enter Malaysia on a 3 month tourist visa with no prior application process. But please check with the relevant authorities before you depart for your Tioman Island scuba diving holidays.
The native language of Tioman is Bahasa Melayu, but the locals can speak excellent English. Crew at the larger dive centres can often multilingual, often instructors and divemasters can teach in French, German, Chinese and more.
Make sure you bring enough cash with you for your visit. There is only one ATM on the whole island located in the main village of Tekek. Some of the larger dive centres and resorts will accept payment by credit card, but you should not expect this to be commonplace especially in smaller establishments.
We hope you found this guide to Tioman Island Scuba diving holidays useful. If scuba diving holidays in tropical paradise sound like something you would like to try, then please check out B&J Dive Centre: www.divetioman.com