Pulau Payar Marine Park A Humiliating Day of Diving in Malaysia PulauPayarDiveoclock

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Pulau Payar Marine Park - A Humiliating Day of Diving in Malaysia

Laying in between the islands Langkawi and Penang on the North-Eastern side of the Malaysian peninsula you can find the Pulau Payar Marine Park. Soft corals, nudibranchs and many clown fish species around. The reef is amazing but the day trip was horrible in many ways.



Pulau Payar is one of the islands of the marine park. This coral island is a popular destination for snorkelers and SCUBA divers from the mainland of Kuah as well as the islands Langkawi and Penang.

Langkawi Coral Dive Center was the only one offering dive trips from Langkawi to the Pulau Payar Marine Park the day we wanted to go. This is one of the dive centers that uses the Langkawi Coral Platform for their services, including snorkeling platform and an underwater observation chamber. We did not expected a well-organized dive trip, especially NOT for experienced divers, but a touristy snorkeling trip for beginners with diving only as a bonus. That expectation became reality.

As soon as we approached the platform things became clear: Over-organized mass tourism! This dive center was a 5-in-1 package deals for everybody. Mainly people from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were around. Most day visitors seem to be snorkeling (or swimming) for the first time, walking on deck with fins and mask on, typical. Life jackets were worn all around and signs telling you what (not) to do everywhere.
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Quiet day at the marine park? Luckily there were not many SCUBA diving trips booked!

Luckily of all those people arriving it was only us that had a certification for SCUBA diving. The whole romantic idea of a lovely day SCUBA diving was gone as well as our (buffet) lunch in between the dives. We arrived last because we went diving after the rest was organized, thanks a lot!
Anyway we were so happy to have some quiet time underwater! With only the two of us and our friendly guide we could explore the real coral island.
Country Malaysia
Dive area name Pulau Payar Marine Park (Between Langkawi and Penang)
Famous for (Soft) coral reef
Dive center Langkawi Coral Dive Center (NOT RECOMMENDED!)
Price For a full day you pay about $90 USD for 2 dives including lunch, SCUBA diving gear (depending on availability of size) and transportation.
Hotel recommendations Landcons Resort (Langkawi)
Garden Inn Hotel (Penang)



Reef FISH Identification
Paul Human

My favourite books for fish identification, good photos and very detailed!

Pulau Payar Marine Park underwater

The soft corals were really impressing, luckily not damaged by fins and people walking on top. White and purple branching soft corals were all around, waving with the water movement. We spotted beautiful nudibranch and sea horses in between the sponges and table corals.

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Clown fish with an anemone

Yellowtail snappers were schooling on top of the reef. For the second dive we went to a small wreck full of damsel and other smaller fish. The visibility was not the best and I had no red filter for my underwater camera here so the pictures are not the best, sorry.

Impressions of diving around Pulau Payar

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Marine life at Pulau Payar, Malaysia.





Comparing dive destinations

Bottom structure Reef structure Pelagic
(big stuff in the blue)
Big reef
(bigger stuff on the reef)
Macro
(small stuff on the reef)
Current
(stream)
Flat bottom with bumps/big rocks/pinnacles Hard corals tree-shape
(not moving)
Sharks Turtles Nudibranchs
(snails)
No current
Slope
(going down slowly)
Soft corals tree-shape
(moving)
Rays Eels/snakes Sea horses Small
(you can easily swim against it)
Wall
(steep but you see the bottom)
Table-/fan-shape Trevally/Jacks/Tuna Groupers Scorpion/frog fish Medium
(you can swim against it for a little while/higher air consumption)
Drop off
(steep and you can't see the bottom)
Anemones Barracudas Lobsters/crabs Octopus/squid Strong/reef hooks
(you cannot swim against it)
Blue
(no reference)
Sponges Sardines/herrings Puffers Shrimps Pumping/washing machine/OMG/hold your regulator
(superman)
* The transparent boxes are the things I have seen down below and / or are spotted on almost every dive in that area.
* The dark blue boxes are the 'things' that are unavailable - things I have not seen and/or that are uncommon in that area.
Click here for more information about comparing dive destinations.


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Langkawi Coral Dive Center

About the organization of Langkawi Coral Dive Center

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People snorkeling in the Pulau Payar marine park.

When arriving at the Kuah harbor you get a paper bracelet (team color) and you are guided through the crowd passing the migration office to the FERRY! Do not expect a sightseeing trip to Payar, it’s fully air-conditioned and you are not expected to go outside during the trip. Once on the platform you will get a briefing about the organization of your day (follow the signs and the schedule), which toilets to use (each company has their own), etc.

The staff is very friendly but it is a well-oiled machine out there, in a bad way. The ‘green tourism’ is not really consequent, you can not use soap/shampoo in the showers but sunscreen and walking on coral is OK. While diving our guide actually touched the marine life and inflated a puffer fish – horrible.

For more information about Penang and Langkawi island, things to do, restaurant and bar recommendations and a lot of useful travel tips for your holiday, visit my travel blog! Penang and Langkawi on Crazy Dutch Abroad.
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Marlies
Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"


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