Exploring Malaysia’s Island Treasures: Pulau Tenggol

Pulau Tenggol’s unspoiled natural beauty, crystal clear waters, and abundant marine life make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.Off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, lay some of Malaysia’s best diving islands. Tenggol Island, in particular, is a hidden gem that should not be missed by diving enthusiasts. Located in Dungun, Terengganu, Tenggol Island offers an unforgettable underwater experience with over 20 dive sites that showcase unique treasures such as soft corals, batfish, nudibranchs, clownfish, and eerie shipwrecks. Despite its relatively small size, Tenggol Island attracts a vast amount of marine life and is a popular destination for thalassophiles.

Pulau Tenggol, a true haven for divers, is not just limited to underwater adventures. This tropical island also boasts a 200-year-old forest reserve, making it an ideal destination for eco-tourists and nature enthusiasts. The lush forest reserve is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including rare species of birds and butterflies. Trekking through the dense jungle is an unforgettable experience, allowing visitors to discover the island’s natural beauty and take a break from the underwater excitement. Pulau Tenggol is truly a paradise for those seeking both thrilling diving experiences and serene nature exploration.

Pulau Tenggol, also known as the island that resembles a crocodile, is a renowned diving paradise located off the coast of central Terengganu. The island is highly sought after by divers due to its healthy coral reefs and thriving marine life, making it stand out among other resort islands in the region.

However, what many do not realize is that this island, situated in the Dungun district, is also home to an abundance of natural treasures that remain untouched and unpolluted. The Pulau Tenggol Forest Reserve, which spans over 207 hectares, is over 200 years old and is a permanent forest reserve that was gazetted in 1941 to safeguard the virgin forest from encroachment and development.

According to Roslan Rani, the director of the State Forestry Department, the Pulau Tenggol Forest Reserve is one of Terengganu’s 44 permanent forest reserves. The forest reserve is home to various plant species such as the Balau Laut and Meranti trees, some of which are aged between 150 and 200 years old.

Where is Pulau Tenggol located and what makes it a great destination for scuba diving? When is the best time to visit and how can you get there from Kuala Lumpur? Can you provide a list of the top scuba diving sites in Pulau Tenggol?

Pulau Tenggol is an island located off the coast of Terengganu, Malaysia, and is part of the Terengganu Marine Park. It measures only 3km in length and 2km in its longest width. Pulau Tenggol offers pristine marine life that is relatively untouched by tourism, making it the most popular choice among divers.

The island is secluded, serene and is well-known among the diving community as the best island to dive in Peninsular Malaysia. Highlights during scuba diving in Pulau Tenggol include diving with whale sharks and rare turtle species.

The best time to visit Pulau Tenggol is between March and the end of October, and October is recommended as the visibility is usually the best around that month. From November to the end of February is the monsoon season in the East Coast of Malaysia, and the island around Pulau Tenggol are off-limits to tourists.

To get to Pulau Tenggol from Kuala Lumpur, you can fly from KL to Kuala Terengganu or Kerteh Airport. From there, you can take a taxi or a bus to Kuala Dungun Jetty. Once at Kuala Dungun Jetty, the only way to get to Pulau Tenggol Island is by private boat transfer via the resorts or dive centres. You can also drive by car from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Dungun Jetty and then take the private boat to get to the island. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Dungun, which takes approximately 7 hours.

Here are some of the top scuba diving sites in Pulau Tenggol:

Easy Dive Sites:

  1. Turtle Point: Perfect for beginners with calm and clear conditions. Highlights include small nudibranch, sting rays, angel fish, and turtles.
  2. The Lost World: A great spot to seek out micro sea life with an area totally covered in hard and soft corals, sea whips, sponges, and anemones.
  3. Coral Garden: Teeming with pretty corals on every inch, this dive site offers calm conditions and shallow waters.

Easy to Intermediate Dive Sites:

  1. Fisherman Wreck: A fishing boat that sank in an upright position and is bustling with underwater life when night falls. Highlights include long arm boxer shrimps, puffer fish, and baby leopard sharks.
  2. Gua Rajawali: With a depth range of 8m – 25m, this dive site offers abundant soft corals and sea whips. Highlights include yellowtail barracudas, bamboo sharks, and nurse sharks.
  3. Rajawali Reef: With its stunning coral garden and large schools of fish, this dive site is suitable for both beginners and experienced divers.
  4. Tanjung Gemuk: With clear water and an abundance of marine life, this dive site offers a chance to spot leopard sharks, manta rays, and even whale sharks.
  5. Batu Tokong: With its amazing underwater rock formations and diverse marine life, this dive site offers a unique diving experience. Highlights include large schools of fish, nudibranch, and bamboo sharks.
  6. Tenggol Channel: With its strong currents and deep waters, this dive site is suitable for advanced divers. Highlights include schools of jacks, barracudas, and the occasional whale shark.
  7. Tokong Laut: With its amazing underwater

Exploring Tenggol Island, a Scenic Destination for Diving in Malaysia

Discover the Beauty of Diving in Pulau Tenggol, a Secluded Island in Malaysia

Nestled off the eastern coast of Malaysia, Pulau Tenggol is a small, hidden gem boasting only 3km in length. This idyllic island is surrounded by pristine, white sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and lush vegetation.

If you’re an avid diver, Pulau Tenggol is a must-visit destination. Whether you’re exploring enchanting shipwrecks or gliding through magnificent underwater formations comprised of boulders, pinnacles, and stunning hard and soft corals, Tenggol Island is truly a diver’s paradise.

The island’s elaborate coral reefs and rock formations host some of the world’s most diverse underwater species. Encounterings with large pelagic creatures such as whale sharks and manta rays are not uncommon, along with eagle rays, black-tipped reef sharks, and massive barracudas. Pulau Tenggol offers an unforgettable diving experience for enthusiasts and nature lovers alike

Best Time for Diving in Pulau Tenggol

Pulau Tenggol boasts a tropical climate all year round, making it an excellent diving destination throughout the year. A 3mm wetsuit is sufficient to protect against the island’s sea temperature.

Located off the coast of Terengganu in Malaysia, Tenggol Island may be small, measuring just three by two kilometers (1.8 by 1.24 miles), but its underwater world is vast and captivating. With over twenty dive sites available, this South China Sea island is a true gem worth exploring.

Diving around Tenggol Island offers an array of underwater experiences, from sloping fringing reefs teeming with marine life to dramatic drop-offs, walls, and massive boulder formations. Some dive sites provide sheltered conditions with near swimming pool-like waters, while others feature rugged rocky landscapes where strong currents and surges rock the shallows.

Tokong Timur Dive Site

Tokong Timur is one of Tenggol Island’s most renowned dive sites and is famous for its whale shark sightings from August to October. Located just off a small rock island to the south of Tenggol Island, this dive site is packed with action. To increase your chances of spotting whale sharks, it’s recommended to dive on the south side of the island, where you can find vibrant coral reefs in the shallows and fascinating boulders in the deeper sections (up to 30 meters/100 feet). Although the currents can be challenging, they also bring plankton-rich waters that attract these magnificent creatures.

Even if you’re diving outside the whale shark season, Tokong Timur still offers a plethora of marine life to discover. You may encounter lone hunting great barracuda, schools of batfish, moray eels hiding in crevices, and a variety of colorful damsels and tropical reef fish in the shallows.

Tanjung Api Dive Site

Located on the protrusion of the west coast of Tenggol Island’s northern tip, Tanjung Api is an exciting dive site due to the water currents that flow around the point, creating a fantastic drift dive experience. Be prepared to “go with the flow” and enjoy the picturesque scenery along the way!

The topography of Tanjung Api is rugged, featuring walls and deep rock formations, some of which are massive. These large boulders are adorned with an array of hard and soft corals, sea fans, and sea whips. The fans provide a sanctuary for a plethora of reef species, and keen-eyed divers may spot macro life among their branches and nudibranchs on the rocks. Other noteworthy sightings include bumphead parrotfish, angelfish, puffers, moray eels, and schools of batfish. It’s even possible to catch a glimpse of passing mantas or eagle rays!

Rajawali Point

The northernmost part of Tenggol Island is home to a cluster of dive sites called “Rajawali”, which include Rajawali Reef, Tanjung Rajawali, and Teluk Rajawali, each offering their own unique entry points. These sites boast an abundance of marine life and vibrant coral gardens in shallow waters.

The eastern side of the point boasts a large reef area teeming with diverse corals, including hard and soft corals, sponges, barrels, whips, and anemones, providing a habitat for a wide range of reef fish, such as clownfish, angelfish, lionfish, Moorish idols, and parrotfish species.

On the west side, you can expect to encounter schools of snappers, triggerfish, moray eels, and scorpionfish among the shallow reef and sandy bottom. At the very tip of the point, keep an eye out in the blue for surprises, such as manta rays, eagle rays, and reef sharks, which have been spotted here on occasion.

The Edge

Located between the main Tenggol landmass and the small outlying lighthouse island, The Edge dive site gets its name from a drop off at 18 meters/60 feet. From this point, you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the vast blue expanse. The dive itself offers a mix of boulder formations, bommies, and reefs, providing divers with the opportunity to search for critters or simply observe the underwater world.

As you drift with the current, be on the lookout for larger pelagic species and predators that may be patrolling the area.

Tenggol Wreck Diving

Tenggol offers more than just reef diving and whale shark sightings. In fact, the Malaysian Government has authorized the intentional sinking of several wrecks in the region for diving purposes, including two deep wrecks that are suitable for technical diving.

There are four noteworthy wrecks that lie beyond 40 meters/131 feet, namely Sawadee, Five Sisters, Fisherman Wreck, and the Deep Wreck. All of them are easily accessible and home to a wide variety of marine life. The Fisherman Wreck is a 20-meter/66-feet long fishing boat that can be explored at depths of up to 18 meters/60 feet, making it an excellent dive site for Open Water Divers and those who are new to wreck diving.

North Western Dive sites

“Around the north section of Tenggol island, we have eight dive sites. These sites range from sloping fringing coral edges to step sheer rock face drop-offs. The north part of Tenggol is the rockiest and has some of the most interesting rock formations with giant rock walls and structures almost temple-like underwater.”

Rajawali Reef and Gua Rajaiwali & Tanjung Rajawai

Experience Level : Easy – Intermediate Depth: 8m to 25m Avg Visibility : 10-15m

Rajawali Reef and Gua Rajaiwali lay along the northwest tip of Tenggol island. Gua Rajawali starts as a shallow reef that banks down into the sand where soft corals and sea whips are plentiful. Schools of Yellow snapper and Jacks play here and the triggerfish can be frisky at certain times of the year. Always keep a lookout in the blue here for other larger paraplegic fish especially as you get further north closer to Rajawali reef leading into Tanjung Rajawali. Here the depth drops off faster and Manta-Ray and eagle Rays can sometimes be seen swimming by.

Teluk Rajawali Reef and The Lost World

Experience Level : Easy Depth: 10m to 18m Avg Visibility : 5m-15m
As we come around the Northwest tip of Tenggol you will see a large bay where the water laps the steep rocky inclines of the north of the island. Just around the corner and similar in topography to Tanjung Rajawali Teluk Rajawali flattens out to a more consistent depth. This reef is huge and leads right to and through what is known as the Lost world. Hard coral, soft corals, whips, sponges, and anemones totally cover this area. Large schools of fish play in the shallows and micro life happily hide and thrive in and among the rocks. Sometimes baby blacktip reef shark is seen here but they are very cautious of approaching divers. Great place for snorkeling also.

Tanjung Api and Sri Nokhota

Experience Level : Intermediate – Expert Depth: 12m to 30+m Avg Visibility : 10m-25m
On the most western tip of Tenggol towards the north, we have Tanjung Api and Sri Nokhota. These dive sites can be visited by open water divers but a reasonable range in experience ability is recommended due to the potential depth, current, and surge that can occur at these dive sites. This side of the island is characterized by steep rock faces that extend and slip down into the ocean floor. These rock walls are famous on Tenggol for the Nudibranch. As you venture deeper the rock formations get even bigger, some rocks under the ocean here are 20m tall and create vast underwater mounts covered in giant sea fans to explore. There are a vast range of Angle fish in these areas as well as large hump head parrotfish and schools of batfish. if you’re lucky and venture out deeper you might even catch the manta rays playing around the end of the season.

South Western Dive sites

“Down at the southern end of Tenggol we have six dive sites to visit. The south end is a nice mixture of everything great about Tenggol dive sites. Huge Rocks, Fringing coral slopes, underwater formations, deep blue drifts and everything in between. One of the most famous and possibly best dive sites in Tenggol, Tokong Timur is located south of the island and is the best place to see the Tenggol Whale sharks from Aug to October every year.”

Sarang Lang & Tanjung Sarang Lang

Experience Level : Intermediate Depth: 12m to 20m Avg Visibility : 10-15m
The most southwestern tip of Tenggol is probably one of the least visited areas of the island. Winds can make surge waves and surge here that throw you from side to side over 6m at certain times of the year. The reef is very nice and large schools of jacks and yellow back fusilier illuminate the coral backdrops. This is a good place to look out for stingrays in the sand as well as blue spot stingrays among the corals.

Batu Chachang & The Edge

Experience Level : Intermediate Depth: 12m to 25+m Avg Visibility : 10-20m
These sites usually begin with a drop off over shallow water close to the island. shortly after descending you can usually expect some mild to moderate current to drift you along a coralline littered with large rock formations. Sea whips cover the sand areas and the rocks on the southwestern edge drop down beyond 25m. one rock, in particular, gives the later part of this dive site the nickname ” The Edge” because that’s exactly what you get as you drift over a rock at about 17m and all of a sudden it drops away over the edge into the deep blue. a great place to see larger Pelagic fish playing with the currents and hunting.

Tokong Timur

Experience Level : Intermediate – Expert Depth: 12m to 30+m Avg Visibility : 15-30m
One of the most famous dives sites in Tenggol. Tokong Timur. This dive site is awesome all year round. frequently you can see hunting great barracuda and giant schools of 20+ Batfish here. It’s actually a small island in its self just south of Tenggol with a lighthouse on it. the south side is bar far the best with very nice colorful corals and fish in the shallows and interesting rocks to search around down deeper. It’s between Aug and Oct every year that the Whale Sharks Are seen swimming around this rock feeding. The currents can be very strong here and even have undertow on the western side of it hence careful dive planning and a recommended Intermediate to expert level of experience.

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