DAYANG ISLAND, MALAYSIA
“Seventy kilometers east from the Mersing jetty in Malaysia, clear turquoise waters lap white sandy beaches and the occasional rock formations. And we mean, TURQUOISE!. The waters teem with life; fish gather in schools under the wooden jetty, dense coral gardens and walls are immediately visible even from the surface.”
Sharks and large pelagic species frequent this delicate aquatic environment, perched far out into the blue away from the mainland.Undoubtedly, this place offers one of the world’s best scuba diving experiences. Step off the boat into the main settlement called Kampung Pasir Putih – The Village of White Sand, a cluster of huts reflecting traditional Malay heritage.
Everyone seems to be related to one another. Rustic and cozy, with simple facilities and comfort (and fantastic shoreside BBQ meals), this is heaven.Weekend trips are organized weekly during the March – October dive season, Amazing Dive hops off onto the wooden jetty at Pulau Dayang. New divers immediately feel the ambient turquoise lapping about underfoot and the reflective glare of coral shrimp eyes on the corals just under the jetty. Oh, and did we mention the powdery sand?
Let’s Dive in Dayang!
Best Time to Dive Dayang Island
Traditionally, the dive season for Dayang (and Tioman) starts in late February and ends toward the end of October. Right before the start of the new dive season, while the current is still rough, sightings of whale sharks and mantas at Dayang becomes frequent and this draws the attention of Advanced-qualified divers and above.
Dayang is a unique place. It offers sites that can accommodate every diver level; from beginners to the most experienced diver. This is why Dayang Island is a great place to start or expand your scuba diving journey. Scuba diving training can be carried out safely and comfortably for beginners, and then proceed to more exciting and challenging dive sites for advanced divers.
An alternative to Pulau Dayang during the monsoon season is Bintan in Indonesia or Phuket, in Thailand.
Recommended Experience Level for Dive Dayang Trips
Diving in Dayang is suitable for all level of divers, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver or even a Dive Professional.
Accommodation on Dayang Island
Dayang Blues Resort@ Dayang
Just off the Jetty on the right, a collection of stilted wooden chalets built with traditional Malay influences house quad-sharing rooms for divers.
- Attached toilets
- Air conditioning
- Wash points outside each hut
- Sunrise view
Occasionally Amazing Dive grabs a live-on-board boat, a couple of advanced divers and advanced dive students, and goes wild. Starring lesser-visited dive sites in Tioman, Dayang, and the Kuantan Wrecks (WW2 Repulse & Prince of Wales), a looney crew, good food and plenty of drink. What more can you ask for? Enquire more about our next escapade here.
Activities On Dayang Island
A Little Taste of Heritage
Scuba Diving is more than just a sport, because the places with the best dive sites usually are the places with stories o tell.
Pulau Aur (opposite Pulau Dayang) has always been a stopover point for fishermen. With a supply of fresh water and plenty of fish in the waters, a few later moved their families to the island. However Aur was never the peaceful island as we see now. The deep dark secrets of the wild days are only beginning to unravel within the historic data collected from salvaged treasures hoisted from sunken Chinese junks, sailboats and old merchants ships found shattered in their watery graves.
Historically, Aur has been known to Chinese sailors for centuries. A map printed in the 17th century, which derived its information from the famous voyages of Admiral ZhengHe in the 15th century, identifies Aur as two islands (as indeed it does appear to be from a distance) according to its two peaks, Xi Zhu Shan (west bamboo mountain) and Dong Zhu Shan (east bamboo mountain).
In the 19th Century, Aur harboured a thriving population of about 1,400 inhabitants consisting of fishermen, traders and slaves. The islands were an ideal location for pirates to run their business of pillaging, ravaging, slave trading and even sinking a great number of boats during fierce raids with foreign boats on their way to Indonesia or to Thailand and beyond. The deep dark secrets of the wild days are only beginning to unravel within the historic data collected from salvaged treasures hoisted from sunken Chinese junks, sailboats and old merchants ships found shattered in its watery grave. Apparently, a stockpile of such treasure exists on Pulau Aur.
A huge rock in the shape of a lion (and some vehemently affirm, rat) on Pulau Aur is known as Batu Berhala and according to legend was formerly home to an ‘orang bunian’ or a good spirit. The ‘orang bunian’ was believed to have stashed away a horde of cargo from a shipwrecked Chinese junk in a secret cave within Batu Berhala. (See Ming Dynasty Wreck!)
Those who believed in the good spirit and sought help would perform specific rituals to appease the sentient being and when satisfied with the offerings, a door would spring open from the face of the rock. We believe that part of this rituals involve the student divers throwing the instructors overboard when they pass their courses (safely of course).
A tunnel led into the cave filled with everything one would wish for.
The only other condition was that everything borrowed from the cave must be returned after their use had expired.
However due to the second nature of most human beings, many never returned the items taken. Disappointed with such disrespect, the Orang Bunian left Batu Berhala never to return.
Sun Sand Sea Stars
One of the most beautiful beaches, plus powdery sand presents a great idea for beach volleyball and soccer. A rockfall on the southern end of the beach, Coconut trees on the northern end, A Sun that rises behind the silhouettes of the bamboo shoots on Pulau Aur presents perfect photo opportunities.
Join the Advanced and Leisure Divers on the boat as they chug off to Pulau Lang for their night dive in the evening, and after finding a couple of reef lobsters, witness a most beautiful night sky when you resurface. Indeed, diving at Pulau Dayang will take your breath away.
A Little Nightlife
End your day with a relaxing stroll along the moonlit beach and look up into a universe of stars, nebulae, and the occasional meteor streaking across the sky. Have a beer with your newfound friends at the jetty, and enjoy a delicious outdoor seaside barbeque of local favourites.
Shopping and Retail
While there are only two small shops on Pulau Dayang, Mersing Jetty has quite a few shops and stalls that offer a selection of Pulau Dayang and Dive-themed shirts and souvenirs- do enquire on the environmental effects of the collection of some of the souvenirs before making a purchase; you might just be unknowingly damaging the fragile ecosystem!
Places Of Interest
Aircraft Crash Island, Pulau Aur
An F-111G Aardvark crashed into Pulau Aur during a Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) Integrated Air Defence Exercise, involving the British Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy. A year after the crash, a party of 12, including Dr Short (Shorty’s widow) and some of Shorty and Nige’s friends and colleagues travelled to Pulau Aur to erect two memorials, one at the crash site and one under the village flagpost. Donations from friends and colleagues unable to make the journey funded the bronze memorial plaques.
Dive Sites in Dayang
The locals know it as Tanjong Batu Ronchek, or “The Cape of Pirate’s Rock”. Whatever inspired that remains a mystery, but to us that sounds like treasure.
For this site, strong currents are favoured; drift diving along soft coral walls are popular here. The resident large pelagics there report many a sighting of UDOs (Unidentified Diving Object.), and the UDOs report many a sighting of large pelagics. Watch out for manta and eagle rays!
Look for the rock at the tip of the promontory (triangular when viewed from east towards the west), and follow the steep rock slope down, and you may well be rewarded with large fishes such as tunas, skipjacks and giant barracudas (and possibly some pirate treasure as well).
A noble attempt to discourage some honest divin’, but we stand undaunted. Seriously now, this site is named after the rock formation off the coast line that resembles that of a crocodile head.
Relatively shallow and great for entry level divers or for conducting a check out dive- corals cover the gently sloping sea floor with few patches of sand. Generally a dive headed in the SSE direction is taken.
The locals call it Batu Ronchek; or roughly “Rob Rock”. We smell treasure=)
Off the northeast coast of Dayang Island, large rock and boulder formations drop to 30 meters, with bumphead parrotfish and barracudas. It is one of the local favourite spots. Also the place responsible for many ‘virgin’ manta or whale shark sightings. Centuries of currents have since left an odd seabed geography home to similarly unique coral formations- check out the awesome boulder corals! Ideal conditions occur when a moderate current sets from north to south. The seaward face is much more adventurous and interesting than the shallower inshore side.
North of the rock is mostly a coral garden with sea whips and patches of corals. Further along, a steep rock slope dominates the seaward flank of the rock, and it is here that you should start looking out for visiting pelagics.
The southern flank of the rock is the most interesting: there is a spectacular jumble of giant granite blocks and boulders, with many large grottoes and swim-throughs.
Off the southern coast of Aur are three pinnacles (fourth one is usually not noticed.) that rise from 30 meters to just below the surface, they are covered in untouched table corals. Schools of batfish, jacks and trevally are common here but currents can be very strong. Hence, only two of them are commonly dived at- Pinnacles I and II. The Pinnacles are more suitable for experienced divers; but with risk comes rewards and the prize here is simple- big fish, and many of them! Manta rays, giant barracudas, tunas, and shoals of large reef fishes visit the coral outcrops.
2 wrecks sung in 1998 lie at the bottom of the seabed off the Dayang Jetty at approximately 30-40 m depths. Watch out for spotted rays, moray eels, and puffer fishes which like to stay under the shelter of the wreck hulls.
Divers usually perform a free descent above the 1st wreck and navigate a short distance on the sandy bottom before getting to it. Some more experienced divers would also visit the deeper wreck if bottom time permits, before swimming to the reef for a multilevel dive and a navigation back to Dayang Jetty.
At Dayang Jetty, look around the pillars for discarded tyres and find white morays and some reef cuttlefishes! Good coral patches can be found around 5m depths as well. Watch out for tidal patterns as they can cause rather strong currents in the Channel!
Pulau Lang guards the southern end of the Channel. Its name came from the word Helang, which means “Eagle”.
On the eastern side of Pulau Lang, there is a small bay called “Lang Bay”, which is shallow with sheltered conditions, and in close proximity to the resorts. The midsection of the western side of Pulau Lang is dominated by vast expanses of coral rubble at shallow depths. It is a good entry point for night diving. Upon descending to the bottom, start looking out for hermit crabs, sponge crabs, eel, scorpionfish and reef cuttlefish, which are common at night. At both the northern and southern tips of the island, interesting marine life can be found in the jumble of rocks. Turtles are common visitors to these places at night as well.
Legendary Tojo WW2 Aircraft Wreck
A World War II aircraft was discovered in the early 90’s at the south eastern part of Pulau Aur. The wreck was wholly intact down to ammunitions and ammo belt, in 30m of water and sandy bottom. The casual diver will not dive around here, and that isolation was what protected it for the better part of 50 years. After its discovery, the strange urge to take momentos by divers made the wreck… legendary..
Legendary Ming Dynasty Wreck
Tales exist of a Ming Wreck lying in 10m of water off Telok Mariam, the large southwestern bay of Pulau Aur. Being in such shallow water, no trace of it is left for exploration..