Pulau Payar (Payar Island) is located some 1-hour away from Langkawi's Kuah town by boat. Normally boat operators will depart from Kuah town around 9:00am and return back from Pulau Payar around 2:00pm.
This dive site is located at the southern edge of Payar Island. Boat trips took about 5 minutes from marine park beach to get here. Average depth is about 15 metres
The thought of seeing a "coral garden filled with soft corals" in the busy water channels of Straits of Malacca was just plain mind-boggling at first. What more with my initial diving experience at Lembu Rock which did not meet my expectation.
To my surprise, Coral Garden lived up to its name. A garden of Eden filled with staggeringly colourful white, blue and purple soft corals of dendronephthya sp., branching tree corals of Tubastraea micrantha variety (I saw black and green ones), and occasionally some sea fans, sea anemones, etc. I found myself busy going up and down the sandy bottom area (about 12 metres deep) to get the best view of the coral garden.
There were a few times that a school of big-eye snappers (Lutjanus lutjanus) swimming across in huge number, creating a lively marine environment. The dive site is also famous for its school of giant groupers (Epinephelus lanceolatus), which I saw plenty of them. The groupers can be as huge as 1 metre in length.
There were a few titan triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) which did not seem to bother even though they are known to attack divers. Other fish varieties spotted here were moon wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), damselfish, Moorish idols, blue-ringed angelfish (Pornacanthus annularis), etc.
Overall, excellent dive. Visibility was about 8 metres but the patches of colourful Dendronephthya were really the highlight of the day!