Having just got back from Labuan, a brilliant opportunity came along to head out to Pulau Tiga, AKA Survivor Island from the hit US TV series, where people are placed on an island and have to survive without the benefit of modern equipment. But enough about the land, as this is a dive trip let. Pulau Tiga is surrounded by a Marine Park and it appears to be working well since we saw no evidence of blast fishing and a high level of both hard and soft coral diversity.
It is about a two hour boat ride to Pula Tiga from KK, for us this sped by onboard a catamaran called BorneoDreams 4, we were assured that nothing untoward has happened to 1,2 and 3. BorneoDreams 4 is a really nice practical dive boat, very smooth on the water, lots of space, a toilet and a bed for those in need of a quick nap. Top side dive racks are placed along the side each side, which can take 8 tanks so there is rooms for 8 divers doing 2 tank dives. There is a central table for water, tea, coffee and hot chocolate; personal tip: if you mix coffee and hot chocolate you can create your very own mocha which is just the very best thing in the world, after a dive. Snacks; let's not forget the snack side of it all, simple but really nice sandwiches, crisps, papaya and bananas, all good fodder to keep you going.
So Borneo Dreams are just one of the many dive operators that are present here in KK, but they do stand out in a number of areas, first of which is safety, yes I know some of you are thinking about yawning all ready. Luckily in this case safety also makes for a much more enjoyable diving atmosphere, many of you may have found yourselves in the annoying position of having taken a slightly cramped and uncomfortable boat out to a dive site, then you're just expected to jump in and get on with it. Personally I really like to get a few bits and pieces of information; just really simple stuff such as: Are we diving on a pinnacle or a wall? Which way are we going? Is there a current? What is there to look out for in terms of wildlife? This stuff just makes the dive so much more enjoyable, I find at least. Then there is are the proper safety features, such as a well maintained and full bottle of oxygen on the boat, it just makes you feel a bit safer, well actually a lot safer.
The boys and girls from BorneoDreams were great; really chatty, knowledgeable and just fun to be around, they showed a good knowledge of the topography (bathymetry) of the dive sites and explained the general lay out of the sites before each dive, and what to look out for, another good aspect was the fact that someone jumped in for a quick dive to check the currents both at the surface and on the bottom and they also drop a marker buoy with massive cement weight nick named Bessie which provides a nice descent line to the site, there is also a current line attached just to makes life simpler.
So on to the dive sites, we dived two sites around Pula Tiga both broad shallow pinnacles on her South West side both sites had a fair amount of current but since we had been informed about its strength and direction before we started the dive, and taken this into account when planning the dive, it was not a problem. Both sites consisted of patch reefs with coral bommies, visibility was about 10 meters and water temp a nice 29 deg cel. Personally I was both surprised and pleased at the high diversity of both hard and soft coral species as well as sponges present at both sites. The fish life at the first site was dominated by blue and yellow fusiliers and a variety of damsel fish with the odd butterfly and occasional parrot fish and wrasse thrown in. The highlight of the dive was a beautiful lion fish hiding away in a barrel sponge and a perfectly camouflaged cuttle fish. Great!
The second dive site had all the coral diversity of the first but here the fish life was much better clouds of fusiliers and damsel fish dominated the water column at some points but by far the best spectacle of the day was the schooling yellow fin barracuda myself and dive buddy found ourselves in the middles of this school which must have numbered around the 250 mark, elegant and graceful, just a wonderful experience.
Exiting both dives was also simple, we just sent up a delayed SMB so we could be found easily and not run over by boat traffic, there's a current line off the back of the boat and a nice broad ladder to ascend. Then we chatted about our dives, as you do, over some food and a few drinks and lounged around on the bow taking in the site of Palau Tiga and basking in the warm sun.