This hugely popular dive site of the two Perhentians is located to the northwest of the archipelago. In fact, Tokong Laut is the probably the last frontier of coral reef structure on the north and west side of the group of islands. Journey by boat from Teluk Dalam will take about 30 minutes on fast dive boats, passing by the spectacular rocky island of Pulau Susu Dara. Boat trips from either Teluk Pauh or Long Beach will take just about the same time.
Maximum diving depth of about 25 metres with somewhat average visibility of about 10 metres, and total dive time of a paltry 20 minutes (*Want to know why? Read further down!)
No doubt, Tokong Laut is the most popular dive site in Perhentian. It was not entirely a surprise to see 5-6 dive boats during an early morning dive. Because of the distance and somewhat significant depth, Tokong Laut is often featured as the first dive destination for the day.
Above water, only a marginal portion of this huge sea mount appears on the surface. The rest of the it is to be discovered underwater. Unfortunately, I did not see that many fishes that I initially expected. In fact, the much-talked-about resident nurse shark was also nowhere to be found, though I could argue that due to my shorter dive time, I was bound to miss a lot of things. Lurking a few metres below the surface were a number of common barracudas, patrolling the area surely. I also spotted an overly protective red-girdled anemonefish (Amphiprion rubrocinctus) that gladly swam towards any approaching divers. Other fish specie include various damselfish, pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion), blue-ringed angelfish (Pornacanthus annularis), etc. Nonetheless, the highlight probably went to the hundreds of yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) that created a breathtaking underwater scenery as they swam in formation.
As for the corals, this dive site is profusely filled with sea fans of various colours such as white, light green and blue. There are plenty of sea anemones at shallower depth, along with Porites sp. corals, Millepora sp. corals, barrel sponges of Xestospongia testudinaria and of Petrosia sp. with Alabaster sea cucumbers (Opheodesoma sp.), plenty of honeycomb oysters (Hyotissa hyotis), etc.
*Regarding my well shortened dive time, it was due to confusion between ourselves when entering the water. Apparently, one of the divers had a panic attack upon hitting the water (I was told he had not dived for about a year). With only one divemaster (DM) guiding the six of us, she pretty much had her hands full trying to get back that poor bloke back on the dive boat. The rest of us were left wandering up to 25 metres depth when I checked my gauge. To cut the story short, we had to resurface and get ourselves back to the intended entry point. We were swept away some 500 metres away from the rocky outcrop. Yes, that's not a typo, in fact, all of us had to cling on the dive boat to return to the initial spot. Swimming was futile in the fairly strong current. It goes without saying that the event took up a significant amount of my air. In the end, I only managed to dive for about 20 minutes before I ran out of air.
Anyway, special thanks to Alu Alu Dive Centre that made amend to that by sending out 2 DMs for my second dive at Terumbu Tiga.