Between 16 and 25 miles north of Penang are a special string of small islands close to the mainland where day anchorage is easily found in 5 to 8 metres in the prevailing wind shelter.
From south to north they are at Pulau Bidan off the south beach at 5°44.719N, 100°17.422E, north on Pulau Telor off the beautiful tiny sand spit at 5°46.282N, 100°17.181E, Pulau Song Song eastern protruding sand beach at 5°48.678N, 100°17.967E and southwest of the bridge at Pulau Bunting at 5°52.638N, 100°20.159E.
Pulau Bunting is attached to the mainland by a controversial 2km bridge completed in 2005. The bridge is a white elephant project widely criticised because it serves no purpose other than linking an unpopulated island to the mainland.
Disenchantment of the locals remains unknown to the rest of the country. These islands are only a few miles off the mainland but remain uninhabited and are seldom visited by locals or cruising yachties because they’re well inside the main passage north to Langkawi. If you’re not in a hurry they offer great holding in complete seclusion with a few wonderful unspoiled sand spit beaches for private swimming and exploring.
Twenty miles northwest of Pulau Bunting are Pulau Payar and Pulau Segantang, the most notable islands between Langkawi and Penang. Reputed to be the best diving and snorkelling sites in the area, they are located 18 miles south of the Langkawi group. They’re good for beginner snorkelers and divers, but nothing like the water clarity and fish life found further north.
Pulau Payar has three islands and 13 dive sites, which are frequented by day boats from Langkawi, Alor Star and Penang. The area is a Marine National Park and anchorage is prohibited within two miles of the islands – but there are plenty of moorings laid at the best spots.
440 miles from Singapore
The moorings on the east coast of Pulau Payar are for the dive and tour boats, but if unattended are good for a lunchtime stop in calm weather. There are plenty of beaches ashore and an underwater observatory for those who don’t want to get wet.
North of the anchorage are huge floating barges complete with waterslides and recreation facilities for the hordes of fast ferries coming daily from the mainland and Langkawi. Plenty of activities and dive trips can be booked ashore near the small floating pontoon.
440 miles from Singapore
This is a marine reserve with three dive sites. The Malay Fisheries and Marine Department officials patrol the entire area. There is a hefty fine if caught anchoring or fishing here. Pick up a mooring or pass a line to the dive boat on the mooring and wait until they leave.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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