Pom Pom Island – March 2016

Do note that this post was taken from our previous blog which we are planning to shutdown.

DAy 1

Sounds cute right? Pom Pom. This island is a small coral reef island in the Celebes Sea, North East of Semporna Town, Sabah East Malaysia.
The island has a white sand coral beach and is a significant nesting location site for Green and Hawksbill turtles. The island has no village, minimal human impact, no pollution and is one of the popular dive destinations in the Semporna district.

It was a normal working Wednesday. I did not even take a half day off. After 6 pm, I took a train to Kranji, then a bus to Larkin JB. It took me almost 3 hours to reach Larkin. Our meeting point is at MacDonalds’ and I am the first to arrive. Somehow, I feel like I am in the reality show “Amazing Race”.
Our bus was at 10 pm. I grab a quick bite because I plan to sleep in the bus. I was tired!
We reach TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) Kuala Lumpur at 1 in the morning. An hour ahead of time. We bought our bus tickets to KLIA2 (cost us RM 10 each). Taking a taxi would probably cost us a bomb! The bus only starts operating at 3 am. Since our flight to Tawau Sabah was at 7 am, we have plenty of time to spare. We have already done our check-in online. So no worries about that. Just need to drop our baggage.

Finally, after what felt like a long day to me, we reach Tawau Sabah about 10 am. This trip was organized by DIVEKITA 

As DIVEKITA is relatively new, this was their first ever dive trip. Everything on this trip was taken care of. Like the shuttle service for instance was already waiting for us when we reached the airport. From the airport, it will take another hour or so to reach Semporna Jetty. We were told that there would be no shops on the island to buy necessities, so we head to a nearby supermarket and pile 4 days worth of junk! We then had to take a small ferry (another 30 mins ride) to Pom Pom Island. At last!!! We have reached our destination!! yyeeaayyy…. Breathtaking. It was worth all the trouble and transfers. It was so beautiful. God’s creation is amazing!

We checked into our rooms. It was simple and cosy. Oh, I think I forgot to mention the name of the place that we stayed in. We checked in at Celebes Beach Resort
There was only 2 resorts on that Island. The other one is a little on the higher end.

As we have time, we did our first shore dive to a site called House Reef. A shore dive starts with seemingly mundane sandy bank but before long, you are sure to find at least 2 or 3 green and hawksbill turtles. Venturing deeper, you will come across a few artificial reef structures that are home to lionfish and array of crustaceans. The natural reef itself is teeming with macro life. The resort offers unlimited shore dives at no additional cost so you can dive all you want. Night dives was especially spectacular they say. I did not do it because I do not like diving at night.
Sorry no pictures for this one as we do not have time to set up our cameras.

After our dive, we just want to relax and enjoy the serenity. Unpacked, make ourselves comfortable and waited for dinner. As there is practically nothing on the Island, meals will be cooked by the resort. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner was included in our stay. It really feels more like home than a resort.

 

DAY 2

I woke up at 7 am as I always do on my holidays. I do not know why but it happens ALL the time. Breakfast was served at 7.30 am. We have 3 dives today and the first one starts at 8.30 am. Our dives today are around Mataking Island.
Mataking Island offers a few of the most unique dives in an area already known for it’s beautiful and colorful creatures.

First dive was at Mataking Jetty.
Underneath this jetty lives a resident Barracuda named Charlie. It is really the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It is HUGE! You cannot miss it. (too bad i did not capture a picture of Charlie)
The wall slopes down to around 50 m after which there is a large sandy plateau. In the shallows, Octopus, Lion Fish and Stone Fish are almost always seen. Too bad I can’t really spot the Stone Fish due to my troublesome mask fogging all the time.
After the first dive, we went to buy some postcards as souvenirs at the Mataking resort.

Second dive was at the Shipwreck Post. 
Why the name you wonder? Well, this wreck actually have a post box! Yup, you can mail postcards here at Malaysia’s first  ever underwater post box. That was the reason why we bought postcards during our surface interval. The mail is wrapped in a waterproof bag and left in a mailbox at the ship’s helm.The mail is then picked up twice a week to be sent off to it’s destination. In 2006, an old wooden cargo ship was sunk off as part of a conservation project. The ship was to become an artificial reef for tropical fish. You can spot many Lion Fish and Stone Fish around the wreck.

Third dive was at North Point.
Located behind Mataking Kecil, this is a vertical wall dive with strong currents. At 37 m (we did not go that deep in) there is a “cleaning station” that attracts many large pelagic including Grey Reef Sharks, Eagle Rays and even Hammerhead Sharks. (Only if you are lucky! We definitely were not)
As we were mostly in the shallower part of the water, we did however see huge Green Turtles and Ribbon Eels.

We were pretty happy with our first day of diving. We head back to our resort, enjoyed the sunset and company. A few of my friends went for a night shore dive. I did not join as I do not like diving at night. Water was 19 deg they say! Coooollllddddd… A good thing I did not go for it.

By the time we get back to the resort, it was almost time for dinner. We washed up, had dinner and talked about our awesome dives earlier today. I mean, what else can we do right? We stayed up quite late just talking and having a good time.

 

DAY 3

As usual, I woke up earlier than normal. Now ready and excited for our day! Today will be our last day diving as we will be leaving Pom Pom Island tomorrow after lunch. Today’s dive will be around Bohaydulang.

First dive was at Two Brothers
This is a popular Macro dive site which is near Bohey Dulang. If you are into macro and photography, this would probably be your favorite site because it brings together the best of both macro and wide angle subjects. The sloping reef here is lush  and vibrant with beautiful corals that are thriving with macro life. In the shallows, there is a good mix of soft and hard corals with healthy population of sea fans, brain corals, etc. Large schools of snappers, bat-fish and turtles are a common sight. This place is also home to some very interesting critters and nudibranches. I am not a big fan of macro life and I do not have luck to spot any octopus or cuttlefish that are said to be around.

Second dive was at Two Sisters
This dive site is also a Macro dive site. It is very near and similar to the Two Brothers. So there is nothing much that i can talk about this site.

Third dive was at Lobster Wall
This site is the closest Mabul has to a vertical wall dive location with depths ranging from 10 m  to 40 m. Plenty of lobsters, (hence the name. DUH!) nudibranch, sea fans, squirrel fish, box fish and soldier fish.
And this concludes our dives in Pom Pom. Tomorrow we will be packing to leave the Island after lunch but before that we have planned for a trek on Bohey Dulang! Exciting!

There was so many other dive sites to discover around this little island. More than 1000 dive sites if I remember correctly. We will definitely need more than a week here. We need to come back!

 

DAY 4

Our boat leaves at 8.30 am. So right after breakfast, we wore our booties and make our way for the trek. People say that divers can’t climb! hahaha. It was a very taxing, energy consuming, crazy what did I get myself into kind of moment! I almost gave up half way but I’m glad I did not because the view at the peak was WORTH IT!
The name Bohey Dulang itself is a combination of Malay and Bajau language and it means “Water Tray”. Trekking to the top of the 600 m high peak takes a normal person about 45 mins to an hour but I think I took more. Oh did I mention the view was spectacular?
After trekking, we went back to the resort to have our lunch and pack the rest of our bags. Boat leaves at 2 pm. We are not going back yet though, we are planning to stay 1 night in Tawau.
Once we reached Tawau, we checked in our hotel (it was just a cheap hotel) shower and head out for dinner and a much needed massage. We were too tired to do anything else so we plan for an early night.

 

DAY 5

Well, it is time to go home now. 5 days is definitely not enough. I will miss this place. Will I come back here again? You can bet on it!

Until the next flight!

xoxo,

TravelINK

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