Blame it on paranoia or cowardice, but having a “fun time” didn’t always conjure an image of me being in the great big ocean, approximately 18ft under. But after a string of serendipitous events, I found myself zipped up in a wetsuit, with a tank strapped on my back, and ready for my first dive.
But, thank goodness, with a couple of confined dives done and dusted, the nerves were much easier to shrug off. After all, there’s no time to panic because a whole other — unbelievably gorgeous — world awaits…
A Whole New World
Before you jump off into the deep end, there are things to be ticked off on the to-do list: Theory lessons to learn, quizzes to answer and skills to master. At B&J Diving Centre, your instructors will guide you to achieve these goals. Being overwhelmed with panic may be an involuntary reaction to the fear of the unknown but remember it’s also one that’s absolutely unnecessary.
Starting your course in a group of two to four students permits a lot face-time with your instructors. The course which is performance-based also allows you to learn at your own pace, with the best of the bests, who’ve migrated from all across the globe to the tiny island off the Johor coast.
Since 1986, B&J Diving Centre is one of the largest dive centres in Malaysia, catering to more than just amateur divers. As a GoEco operator, GreenFins member and Project AWARE winner, not only is exceptional customer service part of the company culture, protecting and improving the environment is also a big part of its DNA.
The Suite Life
Pulau Tioman is one of the several islands in Malaysia that’s able to truly capture and maintain the best of kampung life. While a quick search for hotels will give you pages of results, none would come close to Tioman Dive Resort (TDR), B&J’s very own resort. For a person who isn’t exactly big on camping, TDR offers the best of both worlds. I was able to indulge in the tranquillity of the island without having to sacrifice my good night’s sleep or the luxury of warm water.
While Pulau Tioman, especially in the Ayer Batang Bay, isn’t an island bustling with nightlife, it’s a nice change of pace from the chaotic city life. When the sun dips into the horizon, an air of serenity envelopes the resort. You’ll then see the occasional student studying for lessons, or dive instructors cycling about, and residents walking with their guitars or quietly chatting with their neighbours.
Ride Or Dive
Getting your diving license can be overwhelming at times but once you’ve taken a walk in the beautiful coral gardens of Pulau Tioman, you’ll be wishing for more. B&J typically has three sessions of daily leisure dive trips. Soyak Island, House Reef, Sipadan Wreck, Fan Canyon and Batu Malang are just some of the dive spots around.
Depending on where you explore, you have the chance to catch sightings of barracudas, nudibranch, moray eels, Hawksbill turtles and black tip sharks. Just a little spoiler: You’ll probably fall in love with it just as much as I did.