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[I am looking for a good location near singapore to do some shallow water snorkelling, looking for good corals, fish , visability, I enjoyed Bali but hope this time I dont't have to fly so far. I'm hearing a lot about pulau Tioman, and nearby islands. Also am considering if I should go up to Phuket area. all of this in late June. I am hoping to spend less rather than more. Also wondering if anyone knows about any interesting sea kayak tours in these areas? azzler1: Also, can one travel from Pulau Tioman by boat to the nearby islands, or must one go back to the ferry at mersing???
Pulau Tioman has good snorkeling. Day trips to the small islands (Pulau Tulai a.k.a. coral island, pulau renggis) just OFF Tioman can be arranged quite cheaply with the local boatmen on the island. In my opinion you get very good snorkeling just off the beach at Salang, the northernmost beach on the island. you'll see turtles, triggerfish, parrotfish, cuttlefish, bumphead parrots... I can go on. From there you can hike to Monkey beach which has decent snorkelling. You can spot sharks in the evenings there. Good, confident swimmers also swim to Pulau Soyah but bear in mind you have to swim across a channel that the big ferries & speedboats use (and they don't stop for swimmers). I thought that was a bit risky so I hired a kayak to take across... a few buoys to moor on to to the north and south of Soyah.
Accomodation is cheap, fan/air con chalets all over the place especially Salang & ABC or you can go to the expensive Berjaya resort or the quiet Penuba Resort. You get amazing sunsets too. There are a couple of bars on Salang if you need a bit of nightlife.
To get to the other islands (Pulau Rawa, P. Besar) you need to get a boat/ferry back to Mersing. I'd avoid Tioman at the weekends cos it gets busy but even then its not that crowded.
Phuket will be in the rainy season during June so if you're thinking of Thailand head for the gulf of Thailand. Koh Toa ( a speed boat ride form Koh Samui) has some nice snorkeling.
Tioman is easier to get to from Singapore and also has snorkeling but not much, if any, is from the beach. You'd need to take a boat to the better locations. Most people get to Tioman itself from Mersing or fly in. The fast ferry from Singapore has ceased operation for now and no one seems too sure if that's for good or just for a while.
Further up Malaysia Redang is also supposed to be good for snorkeling but the long journey up there means it'll eat into your time