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Diving in Malaysia

Scuba Diving trip is almost akin to a romantic trip that you plan with your partner, with the only difference being that your partner on a scuba diving trip turns out to be the sea. To enjoy the experience of scuba diving, you need to be in love with the sea and unless you plan the trip meticulously, the chances of you facing the wrath of your partner are quite high. So, if it is Malaysia that you have zeroed in as a destination, then, this write-up that will guide you through your trip, making it memorable and an experience worth cherishing for life. The Southeast Asian country of Malaysia is a trending destination for backpackers and is equally favored by diving fanatics as well. The incredible aquatic life of Malaysia adds brownie points to its scuba diving front. For the purpose of diving, Malaysia is bifurcated into two areas; Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, divided by the South China Sea in South-east Asia. Each part has its own plus and minus features but what they all score on equally is the marine beauty that a diver longs for on his trip.

The checklist

Before you embark on your scuba adventure it would do you good to spend some time on your before-you-jump-in check-list. You can rent the scuba diving gear at every location in Malaysia so that is a worry that you can easily brush aside. Get your scuba insurance in order along with your travel insurance and you are all set to conquer the Malaysian waters. You should plan your trip also according to the season in Malaysia, which is generally characterized by a hot and humid weather most of the year round. Monsoons stay from April-October (in the southwest region) and October-February (in the northeast region) here. It is advisable to plan your scuba diving in Malaysia during the dry months to make the most of the trip and get clear visibility in the water which can reach up to 60 meters on clear days.

The diving favorites

What makes Malaysia a good choice for scuba diving is its sparkling clear waters, its diverse marine life from turtles, to tiny corals, to a wide variety of fish and its magnificent underwater canvas. One of the most attractive features of Malaysia is its location which is right on the edge of the Coral Triangle. The Triangle is considered as a global confluence of the marine biodiversity, making it a high priority marine conservation area. The abundance of coral reef in Malaysia supports its extensive marine life, which is the main attraction of scuba diving at any of these sites that we have handpicked for you, in this ultimate guide to scuba diving in Malaysia.

Sipadan, and Mabul Islands

Considered as the best dive sites in Malaysian Borneo, Sipadan is the most favored among the three Islands in the Sabah Province. You would require a daily permit which you should book in advance for diving at Sipadan as the number of divers is limited to 120 per day, in order to protect the reef. Pristine coral reefs that are home to Reef Sharks, Clown Fish, Damsel Fish, Manta Rays, Turtles and Leopard Sharks to name a few, make it the perfect diving spot for the thrill and collection of marine life. On clear days, visibility at this spot can go as high as 40 meters. Sipadan itself has been divided into several diving sites of Barracuda Point, Turtle Cavern, South Point, Hanging Gardens, and Lobster Lair.

Barracuda point is famous for having a large shoal of barracuda and some lucky few brave hearts get to dive along with the hammerhead sharks here!  Lobster Lair and South Point are home to a lot of Manta rays who make an excellent muse for underwater photography. Turtle Cavern as the name suggests, has an intricate cave network and is open only for qualified scuba divers.

Mabul and Kapalai Islands

Mabul and Kapalai have excellent muck diving conditions and since these two locations are set close to Sipadan, they can be covered together easily. The diving point is not only a favorite among the divers but is also the hub for underwater photography lovers. Giant Frogfish, Ghost Pipefish, Mimic Octopus are aplenty at this spot and will give you ample opportunity to film them. Night diving is also quite popular at this spot as it gives a chance to view the mating Mandarin Fish at Mandarin Valley.

Lankayan Island

Set a little off the coast of the Malaysian Borneo, Lankayan is known for its whale shark sightings from the month of March to May, macro diving, and wrecks. This diving spot, like most in Malaysia, is home to a massive commune of fish right from jawfish, jackfish, barracuda, batfish, frogfish, angelfish, pufferfish, and nudibranchs. The place is swarming with such amazing aquatic life that you would never want to swim back up leaving their side unless of course, it’s the whales hark that might creep the novice diver. Lankayan is the second best scuba diving spot in Malaysia after Sipadan but since it has only one resort, bookings for the same are full all year round.

Perhentian Islands

Palau Perhentian Besar and Palau Perhentian Kecil are the two main Islands here and there are as many as 20 dive sites and some famous wrecks like the Sugar wreck on the Perhentian Islands. Though the visibility here is not as high and ranges between 8-20 meters, the place is adorned by a magnificent coral reef system that is a sight to watch. Kecil is the budget-friendly brother of the luxurious Besar Island. These Islands come under the protective marine park and so taking back some coral or fishing is a strict no-no here. Perhentian is the best place to start the diving experience in Malaysia for amateurs and also for snorkeling.

Tioman Island

Good visibility of up to 30 meters, caves, and canyons right in the middle of the coral reefs and 25 diving sites to choose from give Tioman a place in every scuba divers list.  The white whale shark can be seen in these waters easily along with Mantas if your trip falls between April and October, which is the mating season for these fish. The Islands caters to all levels of divers and while on a break from diving, you can indulge in the other water sports activities happening in Tioman.

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