The best time to visit
The monsoon season peaks between November and March every year. You can expect more rain and rough seas and most resorts are typically closed from end October through end-February. Peak season is between July and August. Kapas is popular with locals for day trips and over weekends and public holidays.
Equatorial with fairly uniform temperatures year-round, ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Humidity is high (85-95%). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm and most rain can be expected between November and February.
Very casual. There are no dress restrictions on the islands and light cotton clothing, t-shirts and shorts would be suitable. In some villages and rural areas, modest clothing is more appropriate. Topless sunbathing for women is not acceptable. Terengganu is an Islamic state and it is best to dress modestly when in doubt.
Currency and credit cards
The Malaysian currency unit is Ringgit (RM) and sen, where 100 sen equals one Ringgit. US$ 1 is roughly RM 3.20 (Check www.oanda.com for up to date exchange rates). Foreign currency can be converted at banks and money changers at the airport and in Semporna.
Visitors are not permitted to take more than RM 1000 in Malaysian currency out of the country and no more in foreign currency than was brought in.
There are no banks or ATMs on the island. Some resorts and dive centres accept VISA and Mastercard and some may be able to exchange US and Singapore dollars, but it is best to have enough cash with you to cover your expenses while at the island. There is an ATM in Marang.
There are small convenience stores in the resorts selling souvenirs and essentials.
Telephone and Internet
Some resorts have telephone facilities, including facilities for international phone calls. The access code for making international calls from Malaysia is 00. For more information, dial 103.
Mobile phone reception is fairly good on the island.
There is no Internet access on the island.
Tap water is safe for drinking in Malaysia, provided that it is boiled first. On Kapas Island, it is advisable to stick to bottled water – enquire with your resort. There is ample bottled water for sale and all dive centres provide freshwater bins for the rinse of cameras and equipment.
Electricity is available 24 hours a day, provided by the newly built hybrid diesel-solar power station. The connection is 220V, 50 cycles using a plug with three rectangular prongs similar to UK plugs. Adaptors for other plugs can be purchased at airports and some stores elsewhere.
Health and medical services
The only vaccination requirements are yellow fever for those from infected areas. While still listed as a malaria-infected country, most literature states that malaria has been widely eradicated from most parts of Malaysia. Discuss your needs with an experienced travel doctor.
Warning: divers should never take Lariam because of common side-effects including nausea and vertigo. Discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Resorts and dive centres have basic first aid services and the closest clinic is in Marang.
Bahasa Malaysia is the official language but English is widely spoken and understood.
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time.
Visitors will need an international driving licence. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and it is advisable to observe the speed limits, which are generally 50km/h in the city or residential areas and 80km/h or 110km/h on the highway and expressway.
There are no roads or cars on the island itself. Car parks are available in Marang.
There is a police station in Marang on the mainland.
Visitors to Malaysia are advised that the trafficking of drugs in the country is an offence punishable by the death penalty
Religion and culture
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam but there is freedom of worship. When entering mosques, women are required to cover their hair and no shorts or tank tops are allowed for either men or women
There are no dress restrictions, but it is best to dress modestly when visiting villages or Muslim families. For the beach a normal bathing suit or bikini is perfectly acceptable, but topless sunbathing will not be well received.
Shoes are usually removed before entering homes and also in some shops and restaurants. Terengganu is an Islamic state and while these customs are not forced upon visitors, tourists are expected to respect local customs.
Weekends are observed on Fridays and Saturdays in the state of Terengganu. Offices and many shops will be closed on Fridays.
Tipping is not mandatory but is widely practised. RM2-RM5. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge in all their bills.
Citizens from the following countries are required to have a visa to visit Malaysia : North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. Nationals other than those stated will receive a visa upon arrival or are allowed to enter Malaysia without a visa for a visit not exceeding one month. However, it is recommended that visa enquiries are made at the Malaysian embassy or Malaysian consulate closest to you, as regulations are subject to change. Also check http://www.imi.gov.my/ for updated information.
Enquire with the dive centre of your choice about their underwater photography and videography services.
Tourist Information Centers
Please contact the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board for tourist information. (http://tourism.gov.my)