Pulau Payar is located in the southern part of Langkawi near Kulala Kedah and the most popular tourist destination. It is one of the four islands which altogether make up the Pulau Payar Marine Park including the islands of Pulau Payar, Pulau Lembu, Pulau Segantang and Pulau Kaca.
The Pulau Payar Marine Park, stated as a marine park in 1985, is the oldest, the only in the West Coast of the Peninsula Malaysia and one of the best diving spots in the world. It is rich with exotic marine creatures and the place also provides protection for its assorted marine life.
It is spread in 2 miles and the best place for snorkeling and diving and the waters around the park exhibits splendid corals and marine species such as Lobsters, black-tip sharks, moray eels, mollusks, rock groupers and clown fish. This marine park abounding with interesting marine life and vegetation also serves as a study center for the marine research workers. It does not have any accommodation facility so a day trip is the only option.
Payar Island measures 2 km by 1/4 km and the largest island of the Marine Park. The other islands include Pulau Lembu, PulauKaca and Pulau Segantang which are situated on the busy Straits of Malacca between Penang and Langkawi Geopark. It takes about 1 hour’s boat ride to get to the islands from Kuah. These uninhabited islands do not provide accommodation facilities but visitors are allowed to set up camps after they get permission from the Fisheries Department located at AlorSetar (Kedah).
Both Pulau Lembu and Pulau Payar are densely covered with vegetation while Pulau Segantang and Pulau Kaca are with scarce vegetation.
Payar Island with its crystal clear waters is a good picnic point also provides two hiking trails to further explore the flora and fauna of the island. Other facilities are also available at selected areas such as picnic tables, Gazebos and restrooms. Old boats, concrete blocks and artificial reefs built over the years from tyres are some additional attractions for visitors to see. The Island is surrounded by tropical forest, mangroves and breathtaking sandy beaches around the coast.
The most popular diving site Coral Garden starts several meters away at the south-west of Pulau Payar, covered with bright and multicolored soft corals and said to have the greatest number of coral kinds in Malaysia. While snorkeling or scuba diving, you can see exotic fish like damsels, lionfish, roc cod, snappers, sea perch and big groupers. It is also interesting to see numerous shellfish, seashells and slugs that are scattered all over the bed of the ocean.
Look into the rifts and fissures to have a glimpse of washed shrimps and pretty cowries.
At Coral Garden you can also have an unforgettable experience of Baby Shark Feeding and have a close encounter with up to 25 black tip baby sharks snapping at each other for food.
Next to Coral Garden is Grouper Farm on the South end of Pulau Payar, well-known for its various groupers, jacks, snappers and even barracudas.
It is the clearest and perfect spot of all the diving reefs in Puala Payar with very low current, making it easier for the divers. The reef goes down to 15m deep to the sandy ground. Hard corals are found which of them mostly are tree Corals. Group Farm is a home to small fish trying to protect themselves from a larger no of groupers present there.
Lembu Rock also known as Sunken Boat Point is a rocky and sandy dive spot with a good variety of sunken fish draggers in order to set up an unnatural reefs around Lembu Rock. The other diving sites in this area are Rock point and Goodyear Reef where rocks are covered with hard corals and are home to countless shoals of fish. The rock formation in these areas is also very interesting and worth-seeing.
Pulau Kaca is a favored and perfect spot for shallow and easy crash diving. The Island also has many draggers of sunken fishing around it, for creating unnatural reefs and providing shelter to a variety of marine species. The island is all full of wrecks and scattered vessels in almost every direction. You will find hard corals here on the sandy bottom and many small reef fish, mangrove snappers, clownfish, sea slugs like nudi branch and mollusks. You should try to maintain lightness on the sandy seabed as there are many sea urchins scattered all over.
Pulau Segantang is 12kms to the west of Pulau payar with a steep rocky landmass plunging 20 meters into the sandy bottom of the sea. Here you can have a memorable experience of swimming along with exotic leopard sharks, barracudas, jacks and big groupers. It is full of various marine fish such as scorpion fish, lion fish, puffer fish, butterfly fish and lobsters are also commonly found on this Island.
Tyre Reef is the best site within Pulau Segantang where abundant fish life is observed including red snappers, Javan rabbit fish, mangrove snappers and huge shoals of barracudas. Black Coral, Whip corals and sea fans are common in deep waters.
Another site in this area is Anemone Garden which also contains sea fans and a distinctive number of hard and soft corals. On the northern side marine polyps cover the skin of most of the boulders and rocks. Large Murex shells, spiny lobsters, moray eels and helmet shells are commonly found here.