After 11 weeks of backpacking through the southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia and peninsular Malaysia with my girlfriend, the decision was made to visit an island, in order to go diving again after some weeks. After looking up some information we quickly ended up with two choices: Tioman Island or Perhentian islands.
We decided to visit the latter, located a couple tens of kilometers south of Thailands most southern tip. The name Perhentian means ‘’stopping point’’ in Malay, referring to its traditional role as waypoint for traders between Malaysia and Bangkok.
Consisting of two islands: Perhentian Kecil (Lesser Perhentian) and Perhentian Besar (greater Perhentian), we decided upon staying on Perhentian Kecil. Since we arrived on the very first day of the diving season here we had only few choices of places to stay and we chose to stay at Symphony Village and dive with Monkey Dives, located on Long Beach.
Advanced Open Water
After some days of diving we decided that it was time to get Advanced Open Water certified and on the first day of practice we went for the ‘’wreck’’ part of the certification to Sanchoi Wreck. This divesite consists of three sunken wooden boats at 16m depth. The wrecks were covered in juvenile barracudas and snappers. Under the wreck we found bamboo sharks and on the wreck itself we found species varying from Batfish to pipefish and nudibranchs.
After two dives this day we went to bed quite early at around 22:00, but as per usual I was still feeling like having a late-night snack. I made the decision to take the walk along the beach to find some crisps at the small ‘supermarket’ located 200 metres away.
Finding a turtle
As soon as I walked out of our cute little wooden hut onto the beach and turned right, my mouth fell open and I froze… An enormous green turtle was crawling onto the beach at that very minute in order to lay her eggs on the beach where she hatched at least 25 years ago! I quickly went back to the hut to fetch Lenthe after which we took a big towel and some water before setting up our observation spot on the beach, around 15 metres away from the turtle. Despite other tourists and locals walking along the beachfront, luckily (for her) no other people noticed her digging a 0,5 meter deep hole to put her eggs in. After digging for 1,5 hour she finally seemed to be content and started laying her eggs.
Sadly enough the eggs are taken away straight away by volunteers from the Turtle Hatchery on the island. Since tourists and locals dig up the eggs, both as ‘souvenir’ and as delicacy, the eggs are brought to another beach on the island where there is surveillance 24/7. After another 2 hours she was done laying her eggs and it was time for her to get back to sea.
She had made it difficult on herself though by digging close to the dive school located at the end of the sandy beach which made that she was stuck under the catwalk leading up to the dive school. She tried getting out but was visibly tired and strained after all these hours. To make matters worse she had sand-bags, made for protection against the sea, falling on top of her.
We decided, in cooperation of the owner of the dive school, to dissemble the catwalk and take the sandbags off of her. Finally she was feeling confident and energetic again and it therefore only took her ten minutes to climb out and reach the seafront! We had the opportunity to take some pictures and videos of her just before she swam off into the blue! What an experience this was. Most definitely one of the most memorable days of our lives!
Hopefully this blog has made you put Malaysia on your bucket list.
Because in addition to all its beauty, it is one of the cheapest diving spots in the world!
– Mart Harmsen