One of our absolute favourite things about Malaysia is its abundance of beautiful natural landscapes and resources. Among these majestic offerings, we think that people should discover the healthy marine life that surrounds the country, and that’s where we come in!
In this blog, join us as we take a closer look at Malaysia’s premiere diving spots to see everything they offer in their full glory. Furthermore, we will also include some sweet insider tips to make your trip extra special–let’s begin!
If you’re in the loop of the premiere diving spots, then you’ll know that Pulau Sipadan is among the best not only in Malaysia but in the whole world! It’s not hard to see why too, as the island is surrounded by healthy marine life with multiple colourful coral reefs.
Of course, with a healthy set of coral reefs like this also comes an abundant amount of beautiful sea creatures, like reef sharks, grey sharks, leaf fish, seahorses and more!
Sipadan also houses several sites that you can explore, such as the popular Barracuda Point, Coral Garden and Hanging Garden.
- Visiting Sipadan Island is in high demand and only 176 visitors are allowed per day so we advise you to immediately secure a Sipadan permit from Sabah Parks and book early.
- Alternatively, you can directly book a diving resort and get a package that already includes a permit.
Mabul is a beautiful paradise surrounded by luscious coral life that houses various sea creatures that are healthily living their best lives. The best thing that this spot is known for, however, is muck diving.
Don’t worry though, as aside from these unique-looking creatures you’ll find at the bottom of the sea, you’ll also meet some of the majestic inhabitants like the Nudibranch and blue-ringed Octopus–pretty cool indeed!
- For convenient transportation, stay at a resort in the surrounding waters of Mabul Island. These places usually have boat transfers included in their packages, saving you the hassle of searching for a ride.
If you’re looking to get started on your scuba diving journey, one of the best spots to visit is Redang Island. This is because it offers an affordable 4-day PADI certification course that costs around RM500 per head.
But the island is also worth visiting for its abundance of corals, marine life, and calm waters—the ideal setting for diving! The best part? It’s only five hours away by plane and ferry from KL!
- A great way to get to Pulau Redang’s surrounding islands is by chartering a boat. Always check with your accommodations to see if they provide this option!
Lankayan Island is a stand-out option with its 30 diving spots. They’re all worth checking out, as each features beautiful and unique sights such as old wrecks and colourful corals.
If you’re into muck diving, you’ll have a blast staying here as well. The sedimentary bottom found on some of the sites of this island features several unique-looking species of fish that are worth seeing up close and personal.
- Day tours aren’t permitted at Lankayan Island, so double-check your reservations before going there.
Layang Layang Island
If we’re talking about rich marine life, we’ve always included Layang Layang Island in the conversation. It’s one of those rare spots that haven’t been disturbed by any kind of human intervention, making its waters along with its marine life pristine!
This island features 10 different diving sites that are easily accessible via speedboat as they’re only around 5 to 15 minutes away from each other—island hopping, anyone?
- If you want to make your diving experience extra memorable, time your travel between April and May. During this time, there’s a high chance that you’ll get to see hammerhead sharks during your dive, as this is their mating season.
Mataking Island can be considered as sort of an entry-level diving spot because it can cater to both amateur and professional divers. This is because it offers diving spots with varying difficulties from beginner to expert and everything in between.
Diving here feels rewarding because of its stunning sights, which come in the form of sea creatures and luscious corals. There are also some rare muck critters living their best lives on the seafloor.
Lastly, the water that surrounds this island is worth highlighting on its own, as it’s clear, clean and calm–perfect for water activities.
- Try to head out of your room during low tide as this is when you can spot rare creatures on the pure white sand that’s usually engulfed in water.
Tioman Island houses some of the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it’s also home to great diving sites—over 30, in fact! You’ll also find interesting features there, such as caves, giant boulders, and canyons.
And even if you’re a beginner, you’ll find the perfect diving site for your skill level since the options here vary in difficulty.
Head on to Chebeh Island for an easy time waltzing around with barracudas, manta rays, and whale sharks. But if you’re up for a challenge, go to Labas Island, a maze-like site where you can be rewarded with a turtle or shark sighting!
- Don’t have scuba gear or a licence? Stop by Amigo Dive Centre Juara Tioman, the only 5-star PADI dive centre on Tioman Island. They’re also the only dive operator on the east side of the island, so getting in touch with them may be necessary.
If you’re more of an experienced diver, then Tenggol Island should be right up your alley. The currents here are unusually strong, but the experience is definitely rewarding!
Tenggol Island is home to beautiful untouched coral reefs and marine life like trevallies, barracudas and whale sharks. You’ll be spoiled for choice here as well, with its selection of 20 dive spots that have varying reef types and topographies.
- Make sure to check the several wrecks in the area that the Malaysian Government has allowed for diving! There are four in total, namely:
— Five Sisters
— Fisherman Wreck
— Deep Wreck
The Perhentian Islands are known as amazing vacation destinations, but what most people really visit them for is their rich marine life. It’s one of those amazing spots that feature diverse species of fish including clownfish, angelfish, lionfish and more.
One of the highlights of this diving site is the Sugar Wreck, which is now inhabited by an assortment of marine creatures. You’ll also find that it’s now teeming with colourful corals–nature always wins!
- If you’re on a tight budget, find a homestay/resort on the Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Meanwhile, if you want a more luxurious stay, you can find a hotel in Pulau Perhentian Besar.
Lang Tengah Island
Lang Tengah is a hidden gem, as it’s often overshadowed by its famous neighbouring islands, the Perhentian and Pulau Redang. It’s a shame though as the diving spots here are superb, boasting crustaceans, sharks, rabbitfish and other majestic sea creatures.
The island is quite pristine as well, making it a perfect destination for those who prefer a more secluded diving experience. Plus, the water is calm and the diving conditions are almost always easy so beginners can easily try their hand at this activity.
- Make sure to bring enough cash to last you the whole trip! There are no ATMs on the island and some establishments don’t accept cards.
Neighbouring Mabul and Sipadan, Sibuan Island is another underrated island that deserves more praise because of its unique sights. More specifically, this island features sites for muck diving, where you can find the strangest-looking creatures on the seafloor.
Keep your eyes peeled for molluscs, and crustaceans roaming about at the depths of Celebes Sea during your muck diving. If you’re lucky, you can even spot a mandarin fish during your underwater adventure!
- There are some cool diving sites around the island that we encourage you to check out such as the Left Shoulder, Mandarin Point and Mandarin Bay. Make sure to stop by when you can!
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Among all the dive sites on this list, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park may take the cake when it comes to diversity. For starters, it features a wide array of macro marine life–perfect for those who want to go hunting for small critters buried on the seafloor.
Aside from that, the marine park also houses sharks, rays, turtles and various species of fish–pretty amazing, right? What’s great about this place is that it also offers a PADI dive course so beginners are more than welcome!
- As a general rule of thumb, allot at least one to three hours on this island to explore everything that it offers. Furthermore, keep in mind that the last boat to Kota Kinabalu leaves the island at exactly 5:00 PM.
- Visit during the weekdays if you aren’t too fond of crowds.
The Mantanani Islands are perfect for those looking to explore some of Malaysia’s untouched beauty. It features a variety of colourful corals that are great to admire up close and if you’re lucky, you can even peek into the fish they house.
Be prepared to be amazed at every corner of these islands’ diving spots, as it’s home to majestic creatures like ribbon eels and batfish. The biggest attractions here, however, are the giant clams, but unfortunately, they don’t house giant pearls like you see in the movies.
- Since this island is in Sabah, you should expect that there’s really no dry season. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend visiting from April to July to make sure that your trip doesn’t encounter heavy rainfall.
- Accommodation options here are quite limited so we would advise doing only a day tour on this island.
Located on the North of Borneo, Miri is an underrated gem that often goes under divers’ radars, which is a shame! This city features thriving coral reefs and bustling marine life–two things that make a perfect diving spot.
There are tons of diving spots that you can access via jetty when you’re in the city such as Eve’s Garden, Tukau Drop Off, Santak Point and Siwa Reef. All these sites are less than an hour away from the city and each one features different species of fish.
- As much as possible, we recommend visiting in September, as visibility underwater can reach up to 30 metres!