Tioman Island, or Pulau Tioman as it's known locally, is a local favourite for divers. Within easy reach from Singapore, it's one the better & closer dive sites. Although there are a few dedicated dive resorts on the island, this was my first ever "liveaboard" - Friday to Sunday living & sleeping onboard the dedicated dive ship White Manta. Four dives & a night dive on Saturday with a final dive on Sunday on the way home was quite a daunting prospect but exciting at the same time!
The whole operation is super smooth and super slick. Boarding the White Manta on Friday it's a twelve hour sail from Singapore to Pulau Tioman and the first dive is early, 7am. The ship has lovely cabins and everything I could possibly need. The crew are super efficient and super friendly and it's the most luxurious diving I've ever had!
I took way more gear than I actually needed. The main camera I use on dive trips is a Canon S100 and the official underwater housing unit. Though I don't have any dedicated strobe units, the onboard flash through a diffuser is good enough, provided I can get close enough & steady enough.
For this trip I also paired it with the D30, Canon's newest shockproof & waterproof camera, and I was determined to put the camera through its paces.
I even took a 5DS, 6D, 11-24mm lens and 24-70mm lens intending to shoot the Milky Way but underestimated how much the boat would rock even in calm conditions.
For this trip, I covered six dive sites in total; 4 during the day on Saturday, 1 night dive and a final dive on Sunday morning before heading back home to Singapore.
A nice easy site to get used to being in the water again. Someone sunk a climbing frame, bicycle and treadmill Visibilty was poor to average and although I had hoped to spot some sharks in the early morning light, sadly the biggest animal seen was a turtle. Still, not a bad first dive to get into the swing of things!
Another site where sharks are a common sight but again they opted not to show up. Poor visibility and another absence of larger fish meant the focus was on the coral & smaller critters.
A tiny, rocky islet just off the coast of Tioman, the site is famous for numerous small swim-throughs in the rocks - beneath the surface, the island is like swiss cheese. Better visibility and lovely coral, we were also treated to a good, close-up view of a turtle meant this was a highlight for many of my dive companions but I didn't enjoy the tunnels - with so many diver, visibility inside was awful, claustrophobic and devoid of life. In hindsight I'd much rather have stayed outside the swimthroughs and stay shallower exploring the coral!
Malay for Malang Rocks, this was the best dive site of the entire trip. Essentially it was three large rocky pinnacles, just underneath the surface of the water. Visibility peaked on this dive and it had the widest variety of pretty corals. Most of my pictures were shot on this dive!
My first ever night dive, I was a little nervous about how much I'd enjoy it as I'm not a huge fan of "black water" - but it was great! Decent visibility and conditions helped and although again we didn't see any larger marine life, seeing the glittering bronze eyes of tiny shrimp among the coral as my torch swept over them. I'll definitely be doing more night dives in the future.
After a short overnight sail further south we stopped at the final dive site, Jack Rock, a tiny upthrust of black volcanic rock, barely breaking the surface. This dive was horrible, absolutely dreadful, with driving current and less than 2m visibility. It was an ordeal to be survived rather than enjoyed. Although I did manage to get a shot or two using the D30, in the end I abandoned photography and focused on surviving :)
I can definitely recommenhite Manta liveaboards - click here for more info - and if you do decide to book a trip, please let them know I sent you! I don't get anything but it's nice to know my trip report was useful for you!