This quick jaunt up to Dayang Malaysia recently was mostly for the purpose of completing my PADI Rescue course and getting certified as a Rescue Diver (success!) – I invited my usual dive buddy P tagged along as well to test out her newly bought gear and we headed up with Scubaddiction, the same group I dived with in Malapascua.
Pulau Dayang along with Aur and Tioman are popular choices of dive destinations for Singaporean. Mostly because location-wise they are easily accessible by bus/boat, relatively cheap and have decent waters and diving compared to that of Singapore’s murks.
Getting to Dayang
Not taking a plane means no worries about no-fly times, but it doesn’t make the trip any faster. It’s about a 3-4 hour drive to Mersing with a stopover at Kota Tinggi for dinner, and then another 4 hour boat ride to the island. We left Singapore at around 7pm+ through the Woodlands checkpoint without too much delay, and reached Mersing sometime before midnight. From there, it was a boat-rode that felt like eternity and we reached Dayang close to 5am >_<
Some tips for folks headed up – the boat ride is not much fun. Our boat (the Princess) had cushioned seats in the front cabin, wooden bunks in the center and wooden benches on the upper deck at the back. The front area is of course the most sheltered, but the air-conditioning in the cabin is pretty erratic and blows very cold or is very stuffy depending on where you sit, so bring both a jacket and a fan! The wooden bunk beds in the center seem ideal because it gets more airflow and you can lie down, but I’m not sure how comfortable this is in a rocky boat. The upper deck gets the best ventilation, but you’re in for hell if it rains!
Dayang dive season is usually from March to October and closes for the Monsoon season. Seas also tend to be choppier during the start and end of the seasons, but that’s also prime whale shark and manta ray spotting time in some of the more challenging spots.
Incidentally, Dayang is right next to Aur – that’s the island you’re looking at in the picture below. Tioman is a little bit closer to Mersing and thus a shorter boat ride of around 2-3 hours instead.
Staying on Dayang
The first thought that struck me about Dayang was that it reminded me very much of a communal camp – for Singaporeans, think Outward Bound School. Shared bunks, shared toilet facilities and buffet meal spreads at every meal… I hate to sound prissy, but man, I’m too old for this type of living~
There are three resorts that house around 220 people, though it’s run by one management who assigns your group the various rooms based on group size. Our group had 13 people and were assigned a 10-bed room with five bunk beds, and a triple sharing room which had an ensuite bathroom (lucky!).
Seriously, don’t expect any sort of luxury here. The beds in our room were decent though there wasn’t much space to hang around in there. Electricity only comes on in the evenings and overnight as most people are out diving during the day. You’ll also need to bring your own blanket and towel. I highly advise earplugs and sleep masks for those sensitive to the surroundings! There are locks on the doors but it’s generally quite safe all around and little incidence of stuff going missing.
The food is decent, and they do change the menu everyday, though frequent visitors like the dive instructors say they can memorise the menu at this point! You can get buy additional cold drinks, beer and snacks from two small shops on the island.
Nonetheless, it’s a pretty picturesque place, the waters are clear and super blue, and the sand is white and fine at Dayang!
Diving in Dayang
Dayang shares dive sites with Pulau Aur and apparently does have pretty decent diving sites, but you need to be more experienced to dive those sites, and currents have been known to be quite challenging in those areas. Dayang does have something for everyone in pretty close proximity to each other and to Dayang island! We were on our rescue course and had newbie divers taking their open water course with us as well, so we mostly visited the tamer (read: more boring) sites. More in my dive logs here.
Rescue Diver Course
The Rescue Diver Course is quite a lot more intensive than that of the Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses. It consists of both Emergency First Rescue training (CPR and other medical rescue techniques) as well as the theory and practical know-how to prevent problems and rescue fellow divers from the water. I had to go through:
- 1 x EFR Theory + Practical for Emergency First Rescue – Full day session including CPR techniques and an MCQ exam
- 1 x Rescue Theory – Full day session including an MCQ exam
- 1 x Pool session – practical session in rescue techniques in an enclosed swimming pool area
- Dive sessions – this was conducted over the weekend trip to Dayang where practical drills were conducted out in the open sea after dives
If you’re just going to be a leisure diver, you don’t have to take this course, which is the step you need to advance up to Dive Master level. However, one thing this rescue course does make you very much more aware of the dangers of diving and trains you on how to avoid them (prevention is key!) or solve them in the event you run into trouble. For those who aren’t so confident in the water, this might be a good way to build confidence, and thus makes you a better diver.
I did my course with Cynthia from Scubaddiction, and she’s really great! Very thorough and patient and you’ll definitely feel safe in her care. If anyone in Singapore is interested in doing any diving courses (Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue), just drop a comment and I’ll send you her contact details, highly recommended!