Here we come to the newly found dive sites in Malaysia!
It is actually consists of two islands only seperated at high tide by a long sand bank. The islands of Mataking are just north of Boheyan and became famous in 1998 when a Scandinavian film crew stayed on the islands for several month to produce a "Robinson" TV series. The islands have a magnificant white sandy beach with swaying coconut trees. Both islands are surrounded by a large, very long coral reef that slopes from kneedeep to about 80m. Groupers and large travellys, schools of barracudas and lots of spotted rays can be seen at the various dive sites around here. We also have discovered a plateau in 30m depth where grey reef sharks, whitetip sharks, nurse sharks, even hammerheads, and large eagle rays can be observed whenever the current gets really strong.
One of the last islands before reaching the Philippine' border from Semporna and with 1h15min even further out than Sipadan offers some great visibility and marine life that can easily compare with Sipadan. Turtles are very common here, stingrays at certain points are plentiful. At our favorite dive site massive schools of red snapper, large grouper, giant travelley and very often eagle rays and manta rays can be seen. Different kinds of sharks wait at the deep end of the wall but often come up to shallower depth to look for prey. In the shallows there are plenty of rare fish like ghostpipe fish, frogfish and blue ribbon eel,several pigmy seahorses at the deeper parts of the slopes.
The Gaya Island Group:
Consists of 3 steep islands separated by narrow, shallow channels that form the left overs of a long extinct vulcano with the rest of the crater being submerged as a shallow reef. The island group used to be home of a Japanese pearl farm and left overs are still visible on one of the islands and at several spots underwater. There is a very large number of small but rare fish that can be found here at depths ranging from 1m to 20m. Larger fish like eagle rays and trevally can be found at the northern side of the island group in the channel towards Mantabuan.
This is a reef located some 40min from Semporna NE of the Gaya Island Group and only barely exposed during low tide. While the west side of the reef drops steeply down to appr. 40m the east side slopes very gently down to 30m before dropping another 10m to the sea floor. Coral growth is excellent on that side and common marine life encountered include eagle rays, blue spotted sting rays and whitetip sharks at the deep end. Nurse sharks and lobster can also be found under large table coral. At both the north end and the south end of the reef currents can be quite swift thus providing a good chance to spot schooling fish like banner fish,while manta rays sometimes pass overhead.
Located behind the ancient volcano of Bohedulang, can be reached within app. 40min from Semporna. It‘s best dive site, the Black Coral Forest, can be found at the end of a gentle slope at a depth 25m-30m. Here the precious coral can be found huge bushes, ranging from white to neon green to purple in colour. Turtles often can be found resting there, and whenever the current picks up eagle rays can be spotted overhead. The huge coral boulders at shallower depth are excellent places to look for lobsters, frogfish and a large variety of other coral fish. At nearby Mantabuan 2, an underwater mountain that raises from 60m to a depth of 10m below the surface, some of the best soft coral and large table coral can be found, often with nurse sharks or blue spotted stingrays resting underneath. Dive sites further to the north and west of the island on the other hand are great to look for turtles, barracudas and a wide variety of smaller critters.
The island used to be home to a small lodge for several years and it‘s reefs are in excellent condition. While turtles can be seen in numbers other frequent sights include blue ribbon eels, moray eels, barracudas, lobster, large coral trout and snappers. Mandarin fish are common here, especially in the late afternoon. Off the steep slopes eagle rays are sighted often while dolphin, marlin and sailfish are sometimes seen just meters away from the boat. At the southern end of the island a shallow reef that connects to the nearby Island of Timba- Timba is great to look for rare marine life that includes large cuttlefish, frog fish, crab, sea snakes and sometimes nurse sharks hiding under table coral. It takes approximately 50min to reach Pandanan Island from Semporna.
Open Water Diver with minimum of 30 dives
28 February evening: gather in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and stay overnight at Concorde KLIA
1 March: 07.30 fly to Tawau (Eastern Malaysia) and transfer to Semporna(Dragon Inn Hotel on twin sharing basis)1-2 dives depends on the condition.All rooms with AC and hot shower.
2, 3, 4, 5 March: 3 dives a day
6 March: off gas and land tour
7 March: fly back to KL and home