My trip to Perhentian was a bit of an unexpected and pleasant surprise. I was at a divers party organised by my dive shop, ProDive, where they normally have contests and giveaways. Anyway, the announcer offered a free dive trip to the east coast to the first person to show him an Advanced Open Water Certification Card, guess who carries it around wherever he goes :). Anyway, I win the trip so next thing was to get a buddy so I offer to split the cost with a friend, Dominic Lim (his account of his trip to Mabul / Sipadan is here). So great, each of us gets a half priced dive trip ! We select the National Day Holiday (Malaysia's Independence Day 31st August) trip to Perhentian. We arrived at about lunch time after a rather long boat ride (2 hours if I remember right).

Dive 1 - 15:20 31 Aug 1994 - Check out dive at Gua Kambing (Goat Cave)
Contrary to the name this was not a cave dive :)
A memorable day for me, first time I achieved over an hour (1 hr 4 mins) of bottom time :) ... well keeping at 40ft helped :). We saw some amazing huge hard coral structures and a big school of marauding black parrot fish.

Dive 2 - 10:21 1 September 1994 - Teluk Basi, Perhentian Kecil
Not much on this dive except for some BIG parrot fish and lots of coral (ok ok I'm not a big fan of coral hehe, pun not intended :). We went deeper, to about 60 feet this time and had a pretty good 56 mins bottom time ... finally, I'm managing to contain my excitement. It was after the dive when Dominic said he was gesticulating at me to look at a turtle which had passed directly above me !

Dive 3 - 15:53 1 September 1994 - Terumbu Tiga, Perhentian
Easily the best dive of this trip and one of my all time favourites. The dive was around this rocky islet in a channel between two larger islands. Tidal currents were very strong and we had to fin like hell to get anywhere but the scene underwater was breathtaking (literally, especially with those currents :). The rocky islet looked like someone had picked up some huge boulders and dropped em in a pile here. It was an explorers' paradise with valleys, crevices, 'caverns', overhangs, gateways, etc fantastic ! Around the rocky core were gardens of mainly soft coral with the usual accompanying entourage of small fish. Unfortunately the currents took a heavy toll on my air, bottom time was an all time low of 38 mins at with max depth of 65 feet.

Dive 4 - 09:52 2 September 1994 - Batu Tukun, Perhentian
Another interesting dive spot, near an island called Pulau Susu Dara (Virgin's Milk ?) because of its shape :). Sealife was plentiful and we even saw a turtle and a BIG school of jacks and long finned jacks. The were also hundreds of brown jellyfishes floating all around us making me feel glad I bought a full suit :). I then noticed a particularly BIG jelly maybe 10ft above me and started to swim towards it when I almost swam into its tentacles. Applying my emergency brakes I managed to stop in time to gaze in awe at the 15-20ft long tentacles dangling down from the jelly. Time to leave it alone :). Other interesting sights included a nurse shark hiding under a rock and a school of rainbow runners swimming in a circle around us. Currents plus jellyfish avoidance cost me a lot of air. We did spend 25 mins at a max of 77ft before moving up slightly to 50ft. Total bottom time this time was 36 mins.

Dive 5 - 15:47 2 September 1994 - Batu Layar, Perhentian
This was the last dive of this trip and as it turned out, sadly, my last dive for the next two years. We stopped by here for a dive on the way back to the mainland. Helmet shells (they look like a hand), were abundant. Apart from a sting ray and 'swarming' parrot fish there was a partially eaten leopard shark ... strangely there wasn't a cloud of fish over it. Hard corals rule here. Managed to get 67 mins bottom time this time, but at 35ft air wasn't the limiting factor ... it was time to go home.

The excitement didn't end with the dive, the boat got grounded in the shallow muddy waters of the river estuary getting back to the mainland. The boat guys jumped in (yuck, no way was I jumping into that) and after some effort we were on the way again. I rate this as my 2nd favourite trip after Sipadan. Very good diving (Sipadan rates an execellent), good food (no stomach problems as well !) and acceptable rooms (no hot water though) at the Flora Resort on Perhentian Besar (I think) made it a very enjoyable trip. Definitely one of the best on the east coast of Malaysia.

This page was created on Friday, January 31, 1997 and last updated on Friday, January 31, 1997