Johor Marine Parks Island

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Johor Marine Parks and Pulau Aur

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The Johor Marine Parks are centred around a cluster of small islands off the southwest coast of Pe­ninsular Malaysia, south of Pahang Marine Park. The seven small inner islands are not widely known outside local diving circles, but are good to visit if you're in the area.

Pulau Rawa is a popular island with fine beaches. Most of the coral is dead, but there is good marine life in holes and crevices on the east side of Pulau Harimau, to the north. Pulau Babi Tengah was once a Vietnamese refugee camp, but is now a marine park to protect the leatherback turtles which nest here during July. Pulau Sibu, one of the largest and most popular islands, is easily reached by ferry from the coastal towns of Tanjung Sedili Besar or Mersing.

A little further out to sea, PulauAurand Pulau Dayang have excellent diving and thanks to their location in deeper wa­ters offer regular encounters with big pelagics, including schools of hammer­head sharks, lone whale sharks, and reef sharks 2-3m in length. Pulau Aur is the big-gest of a group of four tiny islands which, due to its distance offshore, has better vis­ibility than Tioman, averaging 15-20m from April to September. The beach opposite Pulau Pinang, like the beaches on the north end of neighbouring Pulau Dayang, slopes down gently to large staghorn and table corals. Pulau Pinang, southeast of Pulau Aur, has good wall diving, with caves and overhangs where grouper and snap­per congregate.

There are also wrecks around these islands. The wreck of an aircraft lies in the channel between Pulau Aur and Pulau Dayang. On the eastern side of Pulau Pemanggil lie the remains of an unknown shipwreck, and 90mins by boat east of Pulau Aur there is a Japanese wreck from World War 11 in 70m of water. These last two dives are for experienced divers only.

Scorpionfish and crown-of-thoms star­fish are potential hazards and lobster and octopus are common. Caution should also be exercised around so many sharks.

There are dive operators on Pulau Rawa and Pulau Babi Besar and a new PAD[ dive centre operates out of the Sibu Island Cabanas resort. Dive Asia has a resort on Pulau Dayang, on the beach directly oppo­site Pulau Aur's main fishing village and de­parts weekly from both Mersing and the Dive Asia operation on Tioman. The main re­sort on Pulau Babi is the Pirate Bay Island Resort, although more accom­modation is planned. The inner islands are popular with local non-divers and snorkellers, so they are very busy at weekends and during holiday times.

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