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Swimming With The Sharks: Pulau Payar

Swimming With The Sharks: Pulau Payar



Amidst the emerald waters of the Strait of Malacca, lies the picturesque island of Pulau Payar.  The island of Pulau Payar is home to rich variety of marine life which has made their homes in the temperate waters surrounding this island.

This island is located a mere thirty five kilometres from the Malaysian island of Langkawi and is famous for its Marine Water Park.

Pulau Payar is a small island stretching two kilometres in length and having a width of only ¼ kilometres. The interiors of the island are covered in dense vegetation and remains inaccessible to tourists. The island is completely uninhabited.  A hiking trail has been built along the circumference of the island for those interested in exploring it.

The main attraction of this island and the reason why hoards of people visit this island everyday are the baby black fined sharks that swim in the shallow waters near the shore. Pulau Payar provides a once in a lifetime experience to get upclose to these magnificent beasts of the wilds in their natural habitat. Besides the sharks, Pulau Payar is home to a diverse range of marine species including several endangered ones. The beautiful corals around the island are another reason to visit it.

The island hosts a wide array of activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming. Water sports are strictly prohibited here as they may harm the precious aquatic life which has chosen to make the waters surrounding this island their home.

GETTING TO PULAU PAYAR: – There are several travel agencies operating packaged day tours,  to the island of Pulau Payar and back every day. The prices of these packages vary from 800 to 1000 Ringet per head. These packages include the ferry fair, the entry fee to the island, snorkelling gear, lunch and refreshments. Ferries leave the Kuah Jetty of Langkawi every morning and return by late afternoon. The boat ride from the Kuah jetty to the island is approximately an hour long.



Once you disembark, you will think you have been transported to another world. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, standing there on the serene and secluded island surrounded only by Mother Nature, you are bound to forget all your troubles.  Initially you may feel scared to step into the shark infested waters, however gradually the fear fades away and you take your first step into the warm waters of the Strait of Malacca.   These baby sharks are harmless and swim oblivious to the people who share the waters with them.  Looking at this swift agile creatures dart though the water with confidant strokes will fill your mind with awe. The crystal clear waters provide a clear view of the activity going down below.  The blue ringed angel fish is another fish that can be spotted in the waters of this island. As soon as you step into the water, schools of fish start swarming around you as if asking for your attention. These friendly fish occasionally nibble as if asking you to play with them. Snorkelling here is an incredible experience which one should not miss. As you float near the surface of the water, you can see so many different species of fish swimming right underneath you, so close that you can reach out and touch them. For those who are slightly more adventurous, they can opt for scuba diving. Several diving operators take you for dives in the coral reefs near the island.

The best dive spots of the western peninsula are found in Pulau Payar because of its extensive variety of marine life and its coral reefs.Diving gear is provided by them. One of the most famous dive spots is the artificial reef south of Pulau Kaca.  Another unique experience with the Pulau Payar package provides is an opportunity to feed the fishes.  Smaller fish come and peck directly from your hand. It is not often that one gets a chance to feed a shark. The floating reef platform in Pulau Payar lets everyone enjoy the beauty of the marine life which this island provides without having to get wet. This is an excellent option for those people who are too scared to get into the water with the sharks or in general just do not wish to get wet. The floating platform has a tunnel like chamber which is located at the bottom of the platform which is nearly 10 feet below the sea. The platform also has a snack bar, a dining area and a sun deck for people to bask and enjoy the sun.


Though Pulau Payar is a beautiful place, tourists must take extra care not to pollute this pristine heaven as if we do then the aquatic life of the island will suffer. In recent years, several corals have experienced coral bleaching due to increase in water temperature. Throwing of Plastics or any other sort of garbage into the water is a punishable offence and is strictly prohibited. We must do our best as responsible tourists to protect this beautiful place from any harm that may come to it as a result of our actions.

About anwesha mal

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