Any responsible person knows that taking daily fruits and vitamins keeps our body healthy and happy. But it takes a real traveller to know that a yearly dose of “Vitamin Sea” is just as important! Spending time outdoors can be remarkably rewarding for your physical and mental well-being. Aside from the natural benefits of good sunlight, fresh air, and physical beach activities or even just what a good restful beach holiday can bring you, here are five amazing ‘vitamin sea’ experiences in Malaysia that are really good for the soul.
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One of the best places for snorkelling is at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Sabah. This marine park that is named after our first prime minister, covers five islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. These islands are Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. The islands on its own are gorgeous, providing pristine beaches and crystal clear waters to relax at with many resorts and spas you can pamper yourself with. But the real treasure of these islands is its surrounding waters that are filled with marine life in all colours, shapes, and sizes! Snorkelling at this marine park means that you get to hop from one island to another, swimming among shoals fish - representing up to 364 different fish species - in more than 25 dives sites around the park. Keep an eye out for other amazing sea creatures such as the blue ringed octopus, turtles, cuttlefish, and even black-tip reef sharks.
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Taking time to watch the sunset is a must-do on a proper beach holiday. Sunrise, if you’re an early bird. The sunsets and sunrises at Malaysian beaches are nothing short of spectacular. Tell your kids (or your partner) to get off their gaming devices and go on a lovely evening beach walk on Kota Kinabalu’s most popular beach, Tanjung Aru Beach, and appreciate how beautiful the sky is when aflame with the colours of dusk. Another reason for its popularity is the number of beach activities available there - volleyball, soccer, parasailing and more. For sunrise, pick any island off the east coast of Malaysia and it’ll make your early rise worthwhile. At Lang Tengah, you can go on a pre-dawn jungle trekking excursion which gets you to the top of Batu Kuching in only 25 minutes - just in time to welcome the sunrise of a new day.
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‘Blue tears’ in the sea might not make any sense at first, considering that the sea is already made of a gazillion trillion buckets of salty water. How in the world is anyone going to identify these “tears”? Well, if you have heard of bioluminescent plankton, you’d know they kinda look like bright, glowing blue teardrops scattered on the shore! Our Malaysian beaches are one of the few locations in the world where you can witness this stunning natural phenomenon in person. Bioluminescent plankton or ‘Blue Tears’ as most tourists would call it, is best seen on a moonless night between September to December at Nipah Bay on Pangkor Island, Tusan Beach in Sarawak, and also along the coast of Lang Tengah Island. It’s quite a magical experience, being surrounded by a starry night sky above and below.
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About an hour from Kuala Lumpur is a little town called Kuala Selangor. For many years, two of the most popular attractions here have been bird-watching in the day at Kuala Selangor Nature Park and firefly-watching at night at Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park. Lately, a third attraction has gained huge popularity - Sky Mirror. It’s an island in the middle of the Straits of Malacca, about 1.74 nautical miles from Jeram, Selangor which appears only on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month including four days before and after these dates when the tide is low. Living up to its name, this sand bar is covered by a very thin layer of water, giving it a mirror-like effect of the sky above. A day of good weather is a day of great photos at Sky Mirror, making you look like you’re hovering right in the middle of an “endless” blue sky filled with puffy white clouds. The outcome is surreal. Getting here involves a 30-minute boat ride from Pekan Lama Jetty and you’re usually given about an hour to spend there. Bring lots of drinking water and slap on plenty of sunblock for this trip because there certainly won’t be any man-made shelter to rest under, away from the sun while you’re there!
Turtles are part of our national heritage. Being home to four out of seven species of turtles in the world, travellers from all over the world often come to Malaysia to see this graceful sea-dwelling mammal. These species are known as the hawksbill, leatherback, green and olive ridley. Sadly, the population of turtles in Malaysia have drastically decreased over the last 50 years, putting hawksbill and olive ridley turtles in the critically endangered category, while leatherbacks are fully extinct in Malaysian waters. This is mainly due to illegal turtle egg poaching along the coast of Malaysia. Lang Tengah Turtle Watch is a local non-profit organisation that ensures that turtle eggs at Turtle Bay, Lang Tengah are carefully conserved, giving a chance for baby turtles to hatch and make their way back to the ocean safely. Witness the wonderful life cycle of these turtles when you take part in an eco-tourism volunteer program with them. For more information on how to volunteer, visit their website here.