The Perhentians are in the same chain of islands as Redang, where we went for the new faculty retreat exactly a year ago. We flew into Kota Bharu and drove to the dock where our diveshop/hotel picked us up for the short ride to the islands. It was hard to find a hotel on short notice but we were able to get 3 rooms at an awesome place called Bubbles which is both a diveshop and a green turtle sanctuary. It was great to get back into the water again. Mary and I took turns diving and watching the kids while the rest of the crew dove. On the first day the group did a total of 4 dives including a night dive. Visibility was not spectacular but the wildlife was interesting and our dive master, Adam, was super experienced and a lot of fun.
The highlight of the diving was by far the morning of the second day. While Mary joined the gang for an interesting wreck dive, I got to snorkel along with the kids as they geared up and experienced SCUBA for the first time. Violet did a PADI bubblemakers session which means she dove 2 meters down with a dive instructor. She did great. Tyler and I swam alongside her for most of the dive. After Violet finished, Tyler geared up and swam along the surface to get a glimpse of what diving is all about. He saw a baby reef shark, but his favorite part of the dive was the finish. His instructor Mervin let him play with the inflator/deflator in shallow water and he bobbed up and down for about 15 minutes. He also discovered the octopus, which is a second mouthpiece that allows you to share air with a dive buddy in an emergency.
Each night, the kids signed us up for a wakeup call if an adult female turtle landed on the beach to lay her eggs. What a great birthday present for Aunt Nicole as we were awoken at 3am on our last night (after celebrating her birthday) to a huge turtle digging her nest. After we all had a chance to see her covering over the egg chamber with sand, Tyler and I decided to head back to bed. Mary and Violet slept out on the beach and waited for the turtle to go back out to sea. Once she left, Violet helped Tom and the conservation team dig up the 97 eggs and move them to the safety of the hatchery. Violet probably moved half of them over the course of 2 hours.
One of the pleasant surprises of the trip was the snorkeling tour we took on our last morning. In general we have done our best to avoid large organized tours this year. Snorkeling tours are probably the epitome of tour purgatory. They make you wear oversized life vests and drop you in the water with about 50 people from different boats, the majority of whom can't swim. There's lots of screaming and kicking, and anything worth seeing underwater heads for the hills. But this tour was different. We signed up because we wanted to see adult turtles feeding on the sea grass. We were not disappointed. The first tour stop had some nice coral formations and Violet totally rocked a narrow coral swim through. Pretty amazing! Check out the picture of her coming through the tunnel.
The second stop on the tour was Turtle Point. Our guides spotted a turtle about 10 meters below the surface and we all dropped in to check it out. It was absolutely beautiful and our pictures don't do it justice.
Overall it was probably the best snorkeling we have ever done and the kids were simply amazing! It was a great end to a wonderful weekend. Thanks to Ryan, Nicole and Charlie for being amazing dive buddies (and for watching the kids so Mary and I could do one dive together). Not a bad way to end our diving adventures in Southeast Asia!
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nicole! We've loved celebrating your last two birthdays on tropical island paradises. We should continue this habit. Never stop enjoying the two pieces of cake that life brings your way.