The enchanting marine island, Pulau Besar in Mersing, Johor is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend away with the fishes. Boasting sweeping palm trees, pristine beaches and emerald waters, Pulau Besar will enthrall snorkel enthusiasts, families, and friends. Here is our guide to snorkelling at Pulau Besar, containing everything you need to know for a fantastic time underwater.
Why Pulau Besar is a Snorkelling Haven
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to splurge on an expensive trip overseas to experience amazing marine life. Part of the Coral Triangle, an extensive area that boasts majestic reefs and abundant marine life, Malaysia has its own natural aquarium that is highly sought-after by visitors far and wide.
We have previously shared the raw beauty and unbridled peace of Pulau Besar, just 30 minutes away from mainland Malaysia. This is due to its status as a marine park, a government-protected area, to ensure the marine life is guarded and preserved.
Strangers no more, we delve once again into the depths of the island’s amazing waters with an extensive look into snorkelling, a simple, gratifying experience fit for the whole family.
Pulau Besar Marine Life
The flourishing aquatic habitat surrounding Pulau Besar presents countless unique species found all year round in our tropical waters. Turtles, rays, sharks and a myriad of fishes such as Trevally, Parrotfish, Clownfish and Stonefish as well as corals of different colours, shapes and sizes are all a common sight.
With little boat traffic and a limited number of resorts on the island, the white, sandy beach and warm, clear waters are kept pristine all year round. This makes for several incredible spots that are favourable for snorkelling at Pulau Besar.
Best Snorkelling Spots at Pulau Besar
Pulau Besar has beautiful marine life, even though its nearby neighbour Pulau Tengah has better viewing opportunities. However, for the most convenience and accessibility, snorkelling at Pulau Besar can still be an enjoyable experience. These are the best snorkelling spots in and around Pulau Besar:
The Western Beaches
Aseana Beach Resort was our family resort pick recently due to its incredible features. We can now add its prime location as a point of contention. The resort sits facing the western beach where 4 splendid snorkelling spots are just a swim away. 2 of them are situated towards the northern island, 1 towards the jetty, and the main one just in front of the resort.
The surrounding waters are calm all year round with almost no strong currents to speak of. The corals here are bleached, but that doesn’t stop the fishes from calling it their home. The most commonly sighted Clownfish are available in droves, darting in and out of the corals that stretch from just in front of the resort all the way to the northern tip.
Other commonly spotted fishes include Puffer Fish, Needlefish and Fusilliers. Octopus and crabs are also found beneath the rock formation nearer to the beach. Start your snorkelling experience at Pulau Besar right with the waters at your room’s doorstep.
Pulau Besar Jetty
An often-overlooked snorkelling spot at Pulau Besar is the jetty itself. With coral formations growing on the jetty structures, the jetty is a great spot for a quick dip. As the clear waters offer a peek, take a walk on the jetty to see which parts have the greatest number of marine life before going for a snorkel.
Image: Blue Heaven Divers: Razor Fish & Remora
Try to spot the colourful parrotfish nibbling on the corals or the many remoras and needlefish nearer to the surface. The black-tip sharks and turtles are also found basking in the warm waters beneath the jetty.
Tip: Do be careful when snorkelling nearer to the jetty. Avoid touching the structure as the sharp barnacles can cause injuries.
Facing the open South China Sea, the currents here are much stronger. Due to the currents, the only viable spot is towards the north-eastern bay. The corals here are livelier boasting different shades of fishes swimming serenely. Angelfish, Spotted Fish and Manta Rays are easier to spot here.
Only accessible with a charter boat, the deeper waters are home to barracudas, hammerhead sharks and even whale sharks. It is perfect for diving, especially during the warm season (July to October).
Tip: Do be cautious if you spot a hammerhead shark. Stay a good distance away as some of them are known to be aggressive towards humans.
Island Hopping at Pulau Besar
Snorkelling at Pulau Besar is not only restricted to the main island itself. Island hopping provides a fantastic opportunity to snorkel further out. The 2 islands, Pulau Hujung and Pulau Tengah, just north-west to Pulau Besar offers a more vibrant experience. There are virtually no inhabitants on the other islands saved for an eco-resort on Pulau Tengah, ensuring flourishing marine life in the waters there.
Image: Blue Heaven Diver
The smallest, westernmost island is only a few minutes away from Pulau Besar and has no inhabitants throughout. The corals here are a sight to behold with the ones in between Pulau Hujung and Pulau Tengah boasting an array of marine wildlife in their natural habitats. Turtles and sharks are much more common in these waters.
Snorkelling in Pulau Besar is not complete without a mandatory visit to Pulau Tengah. Set in between the 2 other islands, the waters here are much more sheltered, providing an extremely pleasurable experience.
Swimming in Pulau Tengah’s waters is akin to swimming in an aquarium. The cacophony of colours gives a breath-taking view of the underwater world. The countless clownfish swimming in and out of the red anemones, the green turtles gliding effortlessly, the many rays on the seafloor and the reef sharks hunting smaller preys present a delight to the senses as you swim through the tranquil waters. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to spot the rare Dugongs feeding on the seagrass found in shallower waters.
What Equipment Do I Need To Snorkel At Pulau Besar?
Snorkelling at Pulau Besar requires almost nothing. Just a pair of goggles and a breathing tube, and you’re good to go. You can choose to buy the snorkelling equipment for personal use or rent the gear at the resorts on the island itself. It costs about RM15 to rent the equipment for the whole day. Life vests are also provided.
Chartering a boat costs RM10 per person and has a capacity of maximum of 8 people.
Snorkelling at Pulau Besar is an easy activity to pick up, with few requirements, and is relatively safe for the whole family, attributing to the use of life vests. You wouldn’t want to miss snorkelling at Pulau Besar as it is one of the most alluring spots in Peninsular Malaysia!
Pulau Besar Popular Tour Packages: