Diving Into An Alien World Right Here On Earth

Did you know you can feel weightlessness when you’re scuba diving? There are a few ways to achieve that feeling. One way is to become an astronaut and work onboard a space station. Another option that is within our stratosphere is to board an aeroplane and have an immediate descent where it is akin to zero gravity. And then there is scuba diving. When you manage to achieve neutral buoyancy during a dive, that’s when you’ll feel weightlessness. Not only will you be left feeling free but also able to view a world completely different from what we see everyday.

A scuba diver exhibiting zero buoyancy during a diving session.
Practice makes perfect buoyancy. A scuba diver maintains his buoyancy during a dive.
Source: Image by joakant from Pixabay

Breathtaking Underwater World

Remember as a kid you watched The Little Mermaid, with all its underwater life. The crabs, fishes, slugs and many more with all their colours. The colours for such creatures are about as vibrant as what you see in the coral reefs. However, without a torch you will only see blue all around. That is because the red in the visible electromagnetic spectrum cannot penetrate deep into the water. On the other hand, blue and yellow can, hence you will see mostly blue and green past a certain depth.

A coral banded shrimp resting in between rock crevices.
Hidden gems while diving. Coral banded shrimps are found under and in between rock crevices as they like to stay hidden from predators whilst scavenging for food.
Source: Image by Author

In order to enjoy the underwater world in all its splendours, most divers would carry a torch for every dive. This doesn`t only help them take in the full spectrum of colours but also helps them spot hidden and camouflaging creatures. Life in the open oceans is always fraught with danger, and being a little fish out in the open is easy pickings for predators. Therefore, camouflage and deception are essential for survival in the deep blue sea.

Diving Depth And Limitations

We as humans have adapted to live on land. Thus there are limitations when it comes to scuba diving. Recreational divers can dive down to 40 metres for a short period of time. Exceeding the limit could cause harm to one’s body, and in the worst case scenario, death. It is a leisure sport that has to be handled with care with an emphasis on safety. One of the dangers of diving deep is called Decompression Sickness (DCS). It is when nitrogen bubbles form in the blood stream due to pressure differences. Symptoms may vary from joint pains to paralysis, to even death. Even ascending rapidly can cause DCS to occur in a diver. So always bear in mind what your limitations are as a diver.

Performing a safety stop while diving is important to prevent DCS
Observing safe diving. Safety stops are essential for divers to avoid DCS on their way up to the surface.
Source: Image by Author

Fret not as scuba diving is not a dangerous sport if all precautions are taken. There are plenty of opportunities to do fun things underwater. Like experiencing weightlessness, floating and drifting with the currents. In neutral buoyancy we will float without any effort, but with a little current we can drift along. This is called drift diving. No effort necessary to dive, just drift and enjoy the view as you float along. It sure brings new meaning to Netflix and chill.

Paradise For Diving

Perhentian Island - sprawling sea view from atop a hill. Diving and hiking are both available on the island.
An azure blue sea sprawling into infinity at Perhentian Kecil’s hilltop. From hiking to diving, Perhentian Island has it all.
Source: Image by Author

When thinking about paradise, our mind wanders to Bora Bora Island, the Maldives, the hundreds of islands in the Philippines, Hawaii and many others. However, we don’t have to look far for our own diving paradise. The East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia has plenty of islands to choose from. They’re Redang, Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Tenggol, Besar, Tioman and Kapas, to name a few. These gems are easily accessible either by bus, by aeroplane or even by car if you`re up for a night drive. Across the other side of Malaysia, Sabah, there’s Sipadan which was listed in the top 10 best dive spots in the world.

A shot of a dwarf lionfish
Electrifying eye colours, a candid shot of a dwarf lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus) taken during a day dive.
Source: Image by Author

Getting There By Land, Sea And Air

Getting to Redang and Lang Tengah from Kuala Lumpur is simple. Hop on a one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and head over to ShahBandar Jetty for a ferry ride to either island. Getting to Perhentian, on the other hand, requires a one-hour flight to Kota Bharu. Followed by a one-hour bus transit to Kuala Besut Jetty to catch the speed boat ride to the island. Sipadan however requires a longer journey. It requires a three-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau. From Tawau, there will be a one-hour transit by bus or van to Semporna. Semporna is a small port town that is the gateway to Sipadan. To maintain its pristine water and marine life, do note that you need to get a permit to dive in Sipadan. The other islands such as Mabul, Mataking and Pom Pom are accessible without restrictions.

Kapalai Island Resort - water bungalows during low tide.
A shot of the beautiful water bungalows during low tide at Kapalai Island Resort, Sipadan, Sabah. A soothing place to relax after a day of diving.
Source: Image by Author

Malaysia Is Truly Blessed With Several Diving Paradise

Whilst Malaysians are spoilt for choice when it comes to diving destinations. Redang Island is one of the hot spot that tourists from all around the world aim for. It is also home to a sea turtle conservation site for volunteers. There are about 10 resorts on the main beach. Redang Bay Resort is amongst them and offers a wide range of entertainment. It is not limited to diving. There are snorkelling activities, a bar, live bands and also multiple restaurants within its compound. It has been around before Redang was made popular in the movie Summer Holiday and has plenty to offer.

It may not sound as romantic as someone flying to an exotic destination thousands of kilometres away but it is nothing short of fantastic. Imagine soaking in the salty sea breeze on your skin whilst burying your toes into pristine fine white sand. Sipping a martini or an ice cold beer while listening to the waves crashing in unrhythmic intervals as you lay on the sand.

Not only will we be able to quench our thirst for travel but we are also supporting the local tourism industry. With plenty of choice getaways available, perhaps it’s time to head over and check out the beaches and scuba diving scenes in Malaysia.

Shawn KHIK

About Shawn KHIK

Wanderlust and gamer, Shawn spent a good portion of his life travelling the world. Enjoys soaking up foreign cultures, gastronomic adventures, and sharing the tales of his travels. Gifted with green fingers, he also ventures into the gardening and nursery business too.

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