Oh yeah I love snorkelling. I simply can’t get enough of the underwater world even on shallow depths. I would take diving but it is a much more expensive a hobby and I never got a chance to get certified that’s why I’ll settle with snorkelling for now. And if you ask me now where was the best snorkelling I had? I would definitely say Perhentian Islands, in Malaysia since the snorkelling tour was so organised and I was surprised to see the abundant marine life in one afternoon.
After our sunrise at Long Beach, we headed back to Senja Bay Resort for our breakfast. We decided we’ll do a snorkelling tour since it’s the best way to see the islands and underwater wonders. We checked a number of snorkelling tour operators but decided to go with Maya Resort since we heard good things about them and the price was right at RM 35 per person. There were only 8 others in the group totalling 10 including the 3 Malaysian locals with us. By 11am our boat set off to the waters.
This was our first stop, named as such because the beach is known as a nesting ground for turtles. We’re not gonna lounge around the beach though as the waters surrounding it was our first snorkelling stop. Our main guide, Kasman, gave clear instructions to be always on sight and near our boat while snorkelling. On water he guided some of the group who’s not used to snorkelling yet but some of us wandered a bit off. The underwater lucidity was excellent. There were some portions of crushed corals but the abundance of marine life was exciting. The Irish guy nearby pointed a colourful sting ray during our swim. It was flowing beautifully underwater with its blue spots. In total I saw 2 sting rays in the area.
The water here wasn’t as clear and the depth is deeper. Kasman instructed us to stay close to him. He made a sound on water by rubbing his palms on an object that reverberated under water. From the corner of my eyes I saw a large gray elongated figure on my left side. It was one of the resident sharks there. It was magnificent even from a distance. I saw Kasman dove deep, close to sea floor to take a photo. I saw 3 other sharks, which Kasman said were “Black Tips”. As a bonus, we also saw one huge turtle in the area.
It was now time to see some turtles and I think I saw about 3 huge Pawikans here. Chasing them around was really fun especially when they started going up to the surface for air. Eventually when another boat came in, the place got crowded that its easy to get kicked around. Our group moved away and looked for another turtle before heading out for a late lunch at a Fisherman Village.
Coral Bay Lighthouse
One word to describe this site – Amazing!! The corals here are well preserved, vibrant and of different kinds from soft to hard corals. And the marine life here is so varied. I saw another sting ray here and some sort of a swordfish (or long nosed fish) lingering around. There’s also a lighthouse where people would enjoy taking turns jumping from. The area is just near the Coral Bay Beach which now I could understand why it was named such.
This was our last stop for the day. A nice short stretch of powdery white beach perfect to slow down and linger. It was a nice place to cap our tour as the group had a nice time getting to know each other.
I really enjoyed the snorkelling tour. No wonder the guys at Maya Resort are highly recommended. The whole tour took around 6 hours, we heard from other people that some tour operators would only last up to 3 hours and have a very strict time limit. Here, while we were aware of the time, but our pace was much more relaxed. Our guide Kasman is also very good. He made sure that on each sites, the guest could see what we intended to see on the area. He would ask us individually and guide people on the area accordingly. Being more familiar with the waters, he was able to document our trip as well with his underwater cam. Compared with my crappy underwater shots, we secured a copy (for a fee) for posterity purposes. Most of the beautiful underwater photos here were shot by Kasman. I wouldn’t hesitate to use their service again.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.