Set between Penang and Langkawi, Pulau Payar Marine Park offers probably the best diving and snorkeling on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. The four islands that make up the park are a marine protected area, meaning there’s a rich range of coral reef and fish life, from angelfish and clownfish to blacktip reef sharks.The Basics
A small conservation fee is required to enter Pulau Payar Marine Park, which is generally visited as a day trip from either Langkawi or Penang. If you learn to dive on Langkawi you’ll find yourself diving here, but the park is best known for snorkeling, either from the beach or from floating platforms suspended in the ocean.
While it’s possible to visit Pulau Payar Marine Park independently, most travelers prefer the convenience of a tour that includes snorkel gear, lunch, and door-to-door round-trip transfers.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Pulau Payar Marine Park is a popular choice for snorkelers.
- There are limited facilities on the island, so don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Nonswimmers can check out the fish from an underwater observation chamber in the floating platform.
- The boats that run to Pulau Payar Marine Park are not wheelchair-friendly.
Pulau Payar Marine Park is midway between the islands of Penang and Langkawi. While there are regular ferries from Penang, the park is only accessible from Langkawi by private speedboat or catamaran. As there’s no accommodation on the island, many travelers choose an organized tour to make the most of their time.When to Get There
During Langkawi’s peak season (roughly November through March), Pulau Payar can get unpleasantly crowded, especially on weekends and during Malaysian school holidays. Seas can be choppy in August and September, so April through June, the mid-season, is the best time to visit.
Help Save Pulau Payar Marine Park
Although it’s a marine park, Pulau Payar faces a number of challenges. Please don’t support tour operators who feed fish. It distorts the natural ecosystem, alters fish behavior, and can harm coral. Please also be aware that coral can take centuries to grow and is very fragile. Touching it or standing on it can kill the structure altogether.