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02 August, 2014

OxyCheq BCD in Malaysia

OxyCheq BCD in Malaysia

The much talked about OxyCheq BCD in Malaysia is one of the desired dive equipment that many divers are looking at nowadays. Introduced to Malaysia about 2-3 years ago, this was and still is currently the trendiest BCD the world has ever seen. Why? Simply because that the new style backplate system comes in a variety of colours and the convenience of traveling with it has made scuba diving so much easier. Well, to be honest, scuba diving has become a little bit of a fashion statement too therefore the birth of fancy dive equipment like this. 

While there are some who will disagree about this, a majority seem to prefer using a backpack BCD style versus the conventional jacket types. As I have been a diver for about 5 years now, I started diving with the bulky conventional jacket system and it was such a chore to travel around with it. I used to have an additional dive bag back then but since changing to an OxyCheq, life has been so much more simple  and easy for my diving around Malaysia and Asia. Nowadays, my OxyCheq BCD fits into my standard luggage bag, together with my dive regulator, wetsuit and also dive fins. Did I mention my other general stuff? Yes, all of this in one luggage bag.

Orange Oxycheq BCD Green Oxycheq BCD
 Orange and Green OxyCheq BCD

Owning an OxyCheq BCD in Malaysia has also become a reality as nowadays the prices of the BCDs range anywhere from RM2000 to RM3000. Well, not everyone would easily own this but it is not impossible. A conventional jacket BCD can cost anywhere from RM800 to RM1600 therefore a few hundred more for convenience is not hard to achieve. Plus, with credit card payments nowadays, you can also opt for split payments from your bank too. 

OxyCheq BCDs stand out in the crowd simply due to the vivid colour range they offer. For those who prefer conventional, there is the standard black color while for those wanting to match fins, mask and suit, there are bright colors like red, yellow, orange, blue, purple and pink. Underwater, this works excellent for spotting your buddies and identifying who is who.

For those who prefer a little military action, there is the Oxycheq Digital Camo (as in the photo below) which seem to be a hit with the female divers here. I also understand that there is a company who sells digital camo dive suits, made to order too. 

OxyCheq in Malaysia
OxyCheq BCD in Green, Camo, Red  and Black 
Malaysia Oxycheq Shop
OxyCheq Backplate system
As for sizes, they cater to all sizes, meaning if you are a petite sized diver, there is the OxyCheq #18 which is an 18 pound BCD perfect for small sized divers and also female divers. These are also the travel friendly BCDs. And for the general sized divers, there have the OxyCheq #30, a 30lbs backpack BCD system, the type that I use. The BCD's are also made for single tank usage and not double tanks.

For divers who have been considering to change your BCD system, there are many products and brands out there in the market therefore, I would advise you do your research before committing to any products. As for me, I have been using OxyCheq for the last two years and my experience in this is that this has been the best product due to a number of factors.

Mainly because I can pack this in one luggage bag together with all my other stuff. Another plus point is that it dries up faster than the jacket types too. Overall, the most important is the convenience of using it, simple and fast to gear up and my movement underwater has so much less drag and obstructions. 


I use a Green OxyCheq #30 BCD (as you can see in the photo on the right, that's me jumping into the water at Mabul Island, Sabah) and underwater, it is very easy to spot me or my friends as we all have different colors. Have you experienced this underwater? Looking for your buddy when everyone looks the same in their standard jacket BCDs and wetsuits? Yes, I am very sure this has happened to you before, therefore these backplate systems make a huge difference in this.


If you are interested in the OxyCheq BCD, check out Explorer Lifestyle Online Dive Shop for more information as they are an authorized reseller for OxyCheq in Malaysia. The store carries a range of dive equipment in Malaysia with brands like Suunto Dive Computers, Dive Rite BCD's, Sidemount Systems, MiFlex Hoses and many more lifestyle brands for scuba diving. They accept COD, MayBank2U and also PayPal as payments and currently have a free shipping around Malaysia for some of their products. The online dive and travel shop also plans to sell unique travel packages for those seeking something different. Overall, they carry most of the types of OxyCheq BCD in  Malaysia. 


01 August, 2014

Best Beaches in Malaysia


Malaysia is quite well known for beautiful beaches as there are many islands around the peninsular and also Sabah and Sarawak. This article of best beaches in Malaysia highlights some of the most unique beaches found here. While there are contradicting articles who simply write for the sake of doing it without even visiting the beaches, I can assure you that I have personally been to all the beaches that I have listed here therefore these are my first hand experiences. The photographs are also all mine taken over the last couple of years too so they are quite updated, like the Mantanani Island beach photo above.

The best beaches in Malaysia are in no order and simply random, just that I have narrowed it down to a handful. Trust me, as I have been traveling all over Malaysia in the last 5 years since 2008, I have had my fair share of visiting all these stunning beaches here in Malaysia, either for work, for scuba diving or simply to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Here they are;

Kapalai Island Beach
Kapalai Island Beach
Kapalai Island Beach

Beautiful, romantic and impressive but the island is actually a sand bank island. One of the most fascinating islands in Sabah Borneo too. The unique Kapalai Island stands above this huge sand bank which is about 1 hour by boat from Semporna in east coast Sabah. It is also a 10 minute boat ride from the well known Mabul Island. What makes this beach special is that the resort is a stand-alone unit with no one else around it. Your ultimate private island - known for romantic escapes, special honeymoon settings and simply awesome for a private wedding! I kid you not, just look at the photo above and imagine. 

Pantai Pulau Kapalai
Kapalai Island man made beach deck above the main beach
Usually when the tide is down, the sand bank becomes a nice beach, otherwise, they have an elevated man-made beach deck with special white sand where you can just chill out, sun tan or whatever floats your boat here. Recommended for romantic couples and divers. Also to avoid during peak times as it can get pretty crowded, with mainland Chinese tourist too. One needs to book way ahead to secure rooms here (I hear it's 3-6 months in advance). The only way to get here is via booking through the Kapalai Resort or tour companies. No 'come-and-see' boat trips available here.

Sand Rating: 7/10

Sipadan Island Beach
Sipadan Island Beach
Sipadan Island Beach

The mother of all diving sites in Malaysia, Sipadan Island is renown and recognized as one of the Top 3 Dive Spots in the World with a pretty amazing beach too. However, not everyone can simply pay a visit here. One needs to pay a premium price just to come here and dive. There are no resorts or lodges here as it is a highly protected island with one army base on it. For divers, this is your mecca and I kid you not. The undersea life is rich and filled with colorful corals and fishes. I have dived here more than 8 times in the last 3 years and sometimes with Explorer Lifestyle, an online dive and travel store.

Pantai Pulau Sipadan
Beach at Sipadan Island 
In my many times of visiting Sipadan Island, I have seen people paying about RM300-400 just to come here and snorkel and also just hang out on the beach. The white sand is untouched and the snorkeling is simply out of this world. If you have that extra money, then this is one recommended beach to visit. All trips are half day trips and everyone has to register and leave the island before 5pm. There are no 'I-want-to-see' Sipadan boat services available. All visits must be through a licensed tour operator. Journey from Semporna to here takes about 45 minutes to an hour one way.

Sand Rating: 6/10

Pulau Perhentian Beach
Perhentian Kecil Beach
Perhentian Kecil Island Beach

The backpacker heaven of Malaysia, Perhentian Kecil has been lively since the 70's. Compared to Perhentian Besar, the smaller island showcases a better beach with finer sand. On average, you will see more Caucasians in bikinis and speedo's getting their sun tan while the locals would be busy doing water sport activities. The main beach here is known as Long Beach Perhentian Island or Pantai Pasir Panjang and is very popular as it can get crowded on peak season (March - September). Not really recommended for kids if you ask me but somehow, locals love to bring them here - all for the sake of being here.

Tanjung Tukas Beach Perhentian Besar
Tanjung Tukas Beach on Perhentian Besar, a remote part of the island here
During the monsoon, many of the resorts and restaurants close due to heavy rains and strong winds. So it is recommended you avoid coming here from mid October till late February. The optimum time to visit Perhentian is also when the season starts in end February. However, I have been here during the monsoon season, prices are really cheap but a risk you have to take for the boat service and weather pending too. There are a couple of jetties from the coast of Terengganu that offer boat trips to Perhentian which are from Kuala Besut and Tok Bali. You need to carefully do your homework before coming here too. No flights in here, only boats. Can be visited ad-hawk or recommended though booking a tour company or resort. 

Sand Rating: 8/10

Rawa Island Beach
Rawa Island Beach
Rawa Island Beach

To me, Rawa Island is hands down the ultimate best beach in Malaysia with real white powdery sand that just is a sight to behold. It's like the sand in an hourglass which is smooth and super fine. Though the island is shared by one main luxury resort and one backpacker lodge, there is a invisible border that separates them for the guests. The resort is a 4-star eco resort and is the only one there which is perfect for a romantic escape, honeymoon or even just to enjoy some solitary. There is literally nothing else on the island except these two places, a trek up the hill and one main jetty with a sea slide. No shops, nothing. However, this island has been in the media limelight a few times due to some unforeseen issues.

Pantai Pulau Rawa
Pulau Rawa Beach
If you love ultimate privacy, this is your getaway place. Prices are on the affordable high side while it is recommended to avoid local public and school holidays. Rawa Island is also very popular with the Singaporeans as it is quite near for them to get here. From my last visit here, there was no dive instructor available but there is a dive shop and snorkeling equipment available. Other non-motorized sea activities are also available too. The beach front villas are the best units as you get instant access the the white sand and crystal clear waters here. Rawa Island is located about 45 minutes by boat from Mersing town jetty in Johor and for those interested, one needs to book via the resort to get here. No flights and the Tioman ferries do not stop here. What are you waiting for? 

Sand Rating: 9/10

Pulau Lang Tengah Beach
Lang Tengah Beach
Lang Tengah Island Beach

One of the less visited islands and beaches in the east coast of Malaysia, Lang Tengah Island boasts of just 4 resorts which are Summer Bay Resort, Lang Sari Resort, D'Coconut Resort and Seri Pacifica Resort. The 5th, Blue coral has closed down. All of which are 2-4 stars but don't get your hopes too high for excellent service. Based on trip advisor reviews, many of these resorts do not live up to the international standards, however the island seems to attract more locals and divers. There are also only 2 main beaches here - Pantai Pasir Air (Water Sand Beach) and Pantai Mat Hassan (Mat Hassan Beach).

Redang Lang Resort Beach
Pasir Air Beach near Redang Lang Resort
Pulau Lang Tengah also follows the monsoon season of Malaysia where some of the resorts close from November till end of February. Overall, the island works out fine for those wanting a less crowded beach atmosphere. Activities like scuba diving and snorkeling are big here. Other than that, you should know the island only has these few resorts, no roads or shops. Once you book a resort, that's where you will stay at. Lang Tengah is also half way between Perhentian and Redang Island. No flights, only boat services here from the main land too, but you need to book your resort first before coming here.

Sand Rating: 6/10

Pantai Pasir Panjang
Pantai Pasir Panjang or Long Beach Redang
Redang Island Beach

One of the most popular islands in Malaysia next to Perhentian, Pulau Redang seems to pull more locals, Singaporeans, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese tourist as the facilities here cater well to them. The island was once featured in a very popular Taiwanese movie many years ago which prompted the sudden surge of crowd till today. With the beautiful turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Redang is one of the highly recommended islands with a decent infrastructure. A total of nine smaller other islands around the main island make up the protected marine park which is filled with life. Awesome for snorkelers and divers.

Pantai Pulau Redang
Pulau Redang view from one end
Getting to Pulau Redang is also convenient as they have a small airport that has flights a few times a week via small propeller plane from Subang SkyPark Terminal under Berjaya Air. Otherwise, there are boat services from around the coast of Terengganu. There are three main beaches here which are all connected via walking. The most popular being Pasir Panjang or Long Beach where most of the action is, in other words, the shops, restaurants, cafes and so on. Self drive, fly or taking a tour are the many ways to get here. Redang observes the monsoon off peak season from November till February. Also one of the less expensive places for a honeymoon or romantic escape.  

Sand Rating: 7/10

Pantai Pulau Mataking
Mataking Island Beach
Mataking Island Beach

Another stand-alone resort with one of the best beaches in Malaysia, Mataking island is the furthest from Semporna in east coast Sabah where a boat trip takes about 1 hour one way. This island has also been called the Maldives of Malaysia and after coming here, you will know why. As there are no other resort on the island, you sometimes have the entire beach to yourself. Otherwise, just walk around the island to look for your own secluded spot. The Reef Resort only has about 30-40 units so it is minimal visitors here. They offer diving, snorkeling and some non-motorized water sports here too. One of the unique things for divers is that they have an underwater post office where you can actually post a letter or postcard! Very cool if you ask me. 

Pulau Mataking Beach
Mataking Kecil - You can walk there when the tide is low
For the romantics, this is the perfect getaway as the Reef Resort has a spa, private bungalows, an outdoor Jacuzzi by the sea and all the romantic walks by the beach you want. Special arrangements can be made for honeymooners, weddings or private parties. Highly recommended for those who want a 'Maldives' experience but here in Malaysia. The only way to get here is by booking a tour package from the resort. There are no day trips or visits here.

Sand Rating: 8/10

Pantai Pulau Sapi
Sapi Island Beach
Sapi Island Beach, Sabah

Part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Parks or TAR Parks, Sapi Island is just next to the well-known Manukan Island which is a super popular tourist destination. However, less visitors seem to head to Sapi making this another lovely island with a stunning beach. It can get crowded on weekends and school holidays but I would recommend you come here first thing in the morning and be out just after lunch. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia and also Kota Kinabalu city in the distance.

Sapi Island Beach Photo
Sapi Island view looking at KK city
The Sapi Island Beach is perfect for those wanting some sun tanning, beach picnics or simply to snorkel. Recommended for families as your kids can play freely around here. There is an outdoor restaurant with kitchen towards the jungle where huge monitor lizards (3-5 feet long) seem to be an attraction here for the tourist, do not touch them. There are also convenient shops and washroom amenities here. New scuba divers can also be seen doing their training here too so if you want to take that dive lesson, this is one of the nicer places. There are many speed boat services from Jesselton Pier in Kota Kinabalu town for those wanting to go by themselves. However, many people tend to take the daily package here which includes transfer and lunch. 

Sand Rating: 5/10

Pantai Cenang Beach near Casa del Mar
Pantai Cenang Beach near Casa del Mar, Langkawi
Cenang Beach, Langkawi Island 

While development has picked up over the last few years, Langkawi has always been a popular destination for island and beach lovers. Not only is the island duty-free, there are some pretty nice beaches here too. Some secluded, some on other pats of the island but the main Pantai Cenang Beach is hands down the most popular beach on Langkawi. The main areas of Pantai Cenang can get over crowded at times therefore if you seek privacy, walk further up to where Casa del Mar Resort is located, the beach there is much better, quiet and nicer. You won't get pure white sand but an average sandy beach with a less powdery white feel.

Pantai Cenang Beach Langkawi
Langkawi's Pantai Cenang from the air, one of the most popular beaches on the island
While hordes of locals and foreigners come here for the island lifestyle, Pantai Cenang is constantly busy, especially during the local school or public holidays and try to avoid the super peak season from December to January. Pantai Cenang is easily accessed as it runs along Jalan Pantai Cenang which is the main road along the beach. Rows of shops, restaurants and resorts divides the  main road from the beach too. The bad thing about here is the allowance of motorized sports like jet skiing, banana boat and para-sailing, which makes it quite dangerous for toddlers. Langkawi is accessible via ferries from Penang, Kuala Perlis while you can also drive in via ferry. They also have an international airport with many daily flights in from a number of countries too. If duty free booze, chocolates and shopping is in your itinerary, then this is your place!

Sand Rating: 5/10

Mantanani Island Beach
Mantanani Island Beach
Mantanani Island Beach, Sabah 

One of the less visited islands in Sabah and more of a local day trip from Kota Kinabalu (KK) city, Mantanani Island is located about 2.5 hours from KK and the main beach here called Mantanani Paradise Beach or The Point which stretches for 2500 meters long. It is here where all day trippers come to enjoy the sun, sea and sand while there are about three other resorts located around the island. Powdery white sand awaits the beach goer here but not there are no accommodations on the main beach. 

Activities here include snorkeling, diving and just chilling out by the beach. while for facilities there is are small service huts for the day trip guests. The closest resort is Bembaran Resort which is a dive resort and a 15 minute walk from here. The boat trip from the Kuala Abai jetty on the main land takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Not really recommended for toddlers and this place serves as a quick island and beach trip from Kota Kinabalu for those on a short stay.

On a side note, Mantanani Island was once very popular for sighting the sea cow or Dugong in shallow waters, but in the last couple of years, they have not been spotted. Diving at Mantanani Island is also highly recommended as the visibility can go up to 40 meters. However, not much big fish to see but more macro life.

Sand Rating 8/10

Manukan Island Beach
Manukan Island Beach in Sabah, sadly, it did not make my list here but I'm showing it anyway
Overall, all the beaches have their pros and cons and I have tried to narrow them down as much as I can. I will assure you that there will be readers out there who may disagree about which are the best beaches in Malaysia, but again, I remind you that this list is done by me based on my own personal experiences visiting all these beaches around Malaysia.

While some of you may have been to the beaches mentioned here and some may even have been to others not listed here therefore, please feel free to give me your comment and feedback here. I am always open to seeing what readers think or feel about a nice beach. What are your criteria and so on therefore please do leave your comment below or even help share this on your Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus or Facebook. I hope that you enjoyed reading this and also my photos for best beaches in Malaysia. 

30 July, 2014

Dive Rite BCD in Malaysia

Dive Rite BCD's in Malaysia

Dive Rite BCD's in Malaysia is the growing new trend in the diving industry here where many divers are looking at this BCD simply due to the price, design, simplicity and quality offered. They currently come in only black color and in various designs suited for all kinds of divers. The Dive Rite BCD's are also value for money if you compare them to other designer dive brands in the market too. For the new divers, these BCD's are worth looking into if you are planning to get your own BCD system. 

The benefits of this brand is that they sell the Dive Rite TravelPac BCD and also the Dive Rite VoyagerPac BCD system which are catered for those who travel to dive. Why you may be asking - simply because the BCD's can be folded and put into your medium or large luggage bags easily and yet have your other things in there. This has made dive travel around Malaysia easy as you can fit in all of your dive gear into one bag. 

Where to buy Dive Rite BCD in Malaysia

Other brands similar to this include Oxycheq, Frog and also Halcyon but most of them are in the premium market prices of RM2000 and above for a set where else Dive Rite has some interesting entry level BCD's from as low as RM1666 per set. Now that is entry level price for leisure and professional dive equipment which is from the USA. This product is highly recommended for new divers in Malaysia too. 

With the current lifestyle trend of diving in Malaysia and around the world, many divers are keen to own their own equipment and this has made the diving equipment market more interesting with manufacturers coming out with new and interesting products. Gone are the days of the 'Jacket BCD' which are simply too bulky and hard to carry around on your travels. 

If you have been diving for a while, you would have seen many divers puling their huge dive bags filled with their equipment where nowadays, all of your dive equipment can simply be put into one bag and checked in to a flight without having to pay that excess baggage. Trust me, I used to own a jacket BCD and that was a hassle traveling with it while these days, I travel light with my backplate BCD system. 

Dive Rite Sidemount Systems in Malaysia
Dive Rite Sidemount Systems
For technical divers in Malaysia, there are also the Dive Rite Sidemount System BCD where they have them for blue water diving, cave diving and also extreme sidemount systems. These Sidemount BCDs in Malaysia are picking up as there seem to be a growing number of technical divers here. Prices for the Dive Rite Sidemount BCDs in Malaysia also range around RM1500 to RM3000 depending on the type of system you choose. 

For those interested in knowing more about the range of Dive Rite BCD in Malaysia, you can visit Explorer Lifestyle Online Dive Shop for more information as they carry quite an interesting selection of dive equipment in Malaysia. 

Finally, scuba diving in Malaysia has changed tremendously over the last 2-3 years with many new and interesting products introduced to the market and also dive expo's that have been taking place here and around the region. Diving has never been the same with all the new technology and gadgets available these days. For the new or existing divers, one of the new products to take note of are the range of Dive Rite BCD's in Malaysia. 

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