Malaysia has many tropical islands with white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. Offshore, 67km east of Mersing, Pulau Aur, is such a tropical paradise.
Together with Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lang, Pulau Pinang, Rayners Rock and Pulau Pemanggil which is 15km northwest of Pulau Aur, it belongs to the Johor Marine Park.
Most of the rocky islands are well forested and have isolated coconut plantations. With deep, clear water, healthy corals and regular encounters with large pelagic species, these islands have the potential to become international diving locations.
It is unfortunate though, that with the latest introduction of very expensive Marine Park fees, this dive site is no-longer visited by dive operators. Please view the newspaper article dated August 2013 by The Star Online for further information (click here for details).
Favourite dive sites are listed below:
Dayang Island, is the second biggest island in the Aur group. Facing the Aur Island, separated by Dayang Channel, is Kampung Pasir Putih – The Village of White Sand. And it is in this small village where the popular Dayang Island Resort is situated.
Captain Point – is one of those sites that can be dived in a multitude of conditions. At slack tide it is an easy dive for open water students and can also work well as a drift dive down into Telok Jawa. However, when the seas are rough this can be a difficult area to extract divers from and there is nowhere to place a descent line. Also, watch your depth when doing your safety stop as you might find yourself caught in the surge.
Telok Jawa – Although this site does not make an adventurous dive, it is a great spot for certifying new divers. Telok Jawa has a reasonable coral population and small fish. This site might seem uneventful to some, but for divers who have discovered the art of shallow diving, Telok Jawa holds a quiet appeal. It is a great spot for some serious videographing as this site is close to the surface. The natural light highlights unique rock and coral formations. Look at the sand patches for blue spotted stingrays and the edges of the coral breakage for frogfish. Telok Jawa is also home to a few resident morays.
Rayners Rock – One of the most exciting dive locations Aur / Dayang has to offer. Rayners Rock has the element of surprise – divers can never tell what will show up. This site is primarily known for its pelagic species.
There is a resident wrass at this particular site who spends his time swimming round the rocks. Occasionally during the start and end of session, divers may be able to sight mantas or whale sharks. They usually come up close to the rock at a depth of about 17 to 18 m. Generally if you head out to the open sea while keeping the rock in view, you will be able to find schools of jacks and barracudas. The barracudas are known for heading closer in towards the rocks. Venturing further out into the open, divers will also find giant trevallys. The difficulty level of the dive site varies, and newly certified open water should not attempt to head out to the open sea. Emperors, angels, napoleon wrasses, groupers and the odd nudibranch can be found around the rock.
Plenty of sea fans and soft corals can be found between the rock formation but be wary of the surge and currents if swimming between the rocks.
Crocodile Rock – This is a relatively easy dive site. It is named Crocodile Rock because it looks like the snout of a crocodile. A shallow dive, it is an ideal site to take Open Water Students and snorkellers. Lots of little fish here with the occasional emperor and batfish. Watch the tide as the current can whip through the channel quickly. Crocodile Rock is ideal for night dives as well.
Pinnacles – One of the better spots to dive at Dayang, Pinnacles offers substantial variation both in the dive type and species of fish in this location. The pinnacles are formed by 3 large rocks that lie just below the surface and have a wonderful array of barracudas, morays and sometimes, mantas. Ever present are the batfish and large populations of fusilers and damsels. Reef and nurse sharks have also been spotted at the Pinnacles.
Pinnacles also has beautiful sea-fans and corals that catch the particlate that flows in the current. The diversity is nothing short of stunning and it seems to have thrived even under the threat of the local fishermen.
Photo by Karen Savins taken in April 2011