Such is the way of the 21st century that most places on this planet – be they paradisiacal or extreme – have been exposed on social media. In our increasingly globalised and interconnected world, it seems that we have covered everything there is to see or do on this blue marble.
As a result, the world pauses when news of some uncovered gem breaks the surface. Lang Tengah is one tropical destination that’s gaining a name for being an up-and-coming diver hangout – thanks to some recent whale shark sightings, huge schools of fish in the shallows and recently sunk wrecks. A short boat ride away from the sleepy town of Terengganu, Malaysia, this is an island of sandy beaches and green jungle surrounded by crystal blue water. Underwater360 was keen to seek out this new wonder.
Before our departure to Lang Tengah, we spent a night in Terengganu. The town is a mix of a mix of cultures that have come together to create something special. The town’s streets are lined with colour: Incredible eateries and various temples and mosques (the floating mosque is a notable low-key tourist attraction in a beautiful setting on water). The town has areas of serenity and vibrancy, combining tradition with modernity, and it is starting to see a gentle influx of tourism.
Summer Bay Resort, the premier resort on Lang Tengah, blends naturally into the beach setting between the palm trees. Aside from the resort itself, there is no sign of human activity, except for the small wooden jetty that leads out into the shallows. On our approach to the location, we passed through azure water and over large coral reefs – immediately flagging it as a top destination to dive.
For our first shore dive, we were greeted by a huge school of fish at a depth of only five metres. Better still, the fish were being harassed by baby reef sharks. The water was clear, the marine life abundant, and the coral in great condition. Our next dive saw us exploring the recently sunk fishing boat, set perfectly below the waves, providing a breeding ground for marine life.
With the threats our oceans face, it is important for destinations to actively attempt to conserve their marine life. Summer Bay Resort has kick-started plans to help restore its local ecosystems.
The resort works closely with the local World Wildlife Fund turtle restoration initiative, which has already seen a rise in the number of turtle encounters in the area. Their sunken wrecks at popular dive sites have seen an increase in coral and marine life, and the sustainable management of the resort has seen it develop as an eco-conscious organisation.
For divers who have explored the sites and feel they need to kick back and relax, the island offers a range of activities. If food and drink is your thing, the two restaurants cook up some top quality cuisine and provide a range of options. The laid-back nightlife happens mainly around the beachfront bar, which overlooks incredible sunsets and hosts open mic nights and other entertainment activities.
With Lang Tengah being a tropical island, jungle trekking and rock jumping are favourite pastimes. For adrenaline junkies, dropping like a pin into the sea from a 15-metre height is one such activity that your personal guide will undoubtedly show you.
You can also island hop to the larger arterial islands of the archipelago, or canoe into the sunset. At night, the island comes alive as the phytoplankton in the waves light up like blue LEDs, with the stars shining across the Milky Way.
Our visit to Summer Bay Resort was an unforgettable experience, showcasing the best that Malaysia has to offer in terms of marine activities. With the spirit of conservation, the underwater world is thriving and has made way for whale sharks, turtles and reef sharks to congregate. With this world so exposed, it is amazing that such places still remain hidden.
This article was published in the latest issue of Asian Diver’s Divaholic, 2017. Check out Asian Diver for plenty of information about destinations, conservation, photography, and much more.