Whilst in Penang recently the Langkawi Coral dive brochure caught my attention.
I'd heard that the diving in Malaysia was excellent. Having gained my PADI dive accreditation earlier this year, I just had to give it a go. Langkawi Coral is a floating pontoon just off the island of Palau Payar almost half way between Penang and Langkawi. Palau Payar is a marine park so there's an abundance of fish and coral.
It was an early start with a 7.30am pick up from the hotel, to be transferred to the Penang Pier for a 2 hour boat trip to Langkawi Coral.
On arrival at the pontoon we geared up for the first dive of the day at Coral Garden, just a few minutes by boat from the pontoon. It was a 50min dive to a depth of 20.7m in crystal clear warm tropical water. The visibility was excellent and Coral Garden really lived up to its name, with huge pieces of coral and schools of colorful fish everywhere. We even saw a couple of barracuda and what our dive master called "tame" Moray eels...I not so sure about the "tame" bit even though.
After a picnic style lunch on Palau Payar we geared up again for the 2nd dive. This time it was at Kala Island about 15mins by boat from the pontoon. This dive was for 46min at a depth of 14.8m. To me this one was even more amazing than the first dive. It was my first experience with reef sharks; there were 3 of them all different sizes. The sharks were swimming extremely close to us for some time; you could say they were circling us.
If you're not a qualified diver but want to try it out you can participate in a beginner or "Fun Dive". If diving's not your thing there's still plenty of other things to do e.g. Swimming, snorkeling and fish feeding. If you're not keen to get in the water with the fish the pontoon also has an underwater viewing platform and a glass bottom boat. There's the daily shark feeding off the pier at Palau Payar, which is definitely worth a look.
The Langkawi Coral day trip can be taken from either Penang or Langkawi Island. It includes all transfers lunch and snorkeling or diving equipment, except wetsuits (which aren't needed due to the warm water).
The day trip also offers the option of spending the day on the beach at Palau Payar rather than the Pontoon. I'd highly recommend the beach option. It's a small private beach and the day we were there only 6 of us took this option, so we had the beach to ourselves for the day. The snorkeling from the beach is just as good as from the pontoon especially as it's much less crowded.