Destination Overview – Scuba Diving in Malaysia
Situated strategically in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Malaysia is not only the perfect holiday destination, but is also a gold mine for scuba divers as it contains some of the most fascinating diving sites in the whole of Asia. The country is separated by the South China Sea into Peninsular and East Malaysia. Between these halves are a number or tropical islands with fascinating sandy beaches and world renowned diving sites.
Hot Scuba Dive Spots in Malaysia
Sipadan Island, adjacent to the Celebes Sea boasts of over 3,000 species of marine life, making its waters the most bio-diverse in the world. It is believed that this island was formed by corals which grew on top of a volcano. Excellent diving sites in Sipadan include Coral Garden, Turtle Patch, Barracuda Point, South Point, and Turtle Tomb, albeit for more experienced divers. Turtle tomb, a broad cave, has plenty of turtles and turtle skeletons. According to local legend, turtles swim here when they are about to die. Sipadan has been ranked as one of the top dive destinations in the world. Scuba diving happens all throughout the year.
About 15 km from Sipadan the Mabul Island, a much smaller island and fishing village. With a sprinkling of resorts and one backpackers, Mabul is a brilliant micro-diving and muck diving site. Exceptional diving sites can be found in Paradise 1 and 2, and at Panglima. Mabul Island is famous for habitual sightings of crocodile fish, shrimp such as the hidden harlequin shrimp, snake eels and the mimic octopi.
Kapalai Island, another excellent micro diving site, is close to Sipadan. It is famous for its many diving sites which are very close to each other and hence accessible by boat, like the Mandarin valley, frontier reef, and mantis ground. Mandarin valley derives its name from the abundance of mandarin fish frequenting the area, while mantis ground has a large quantity of nudibranchs and shrimp. You can get to Kapalai Island by boat from Sipadan.
Borneo Malaysia is also home to Lankayan Island which has over 20 diving sites. Located in the middle of Sulu Sea and about 80 kilometers from Sandakan, Lankayan has plenty of frog fish, whale sharks and diverse coral. For example Mel’s Rock has hard corals on its sandy reef, but a dive about 12 meters deep reveals very soft coral. Excellent places to dive in Lankayan include Lankayan wreck, the jetty wreck, twin city and jaw fish lair. Lankayan wreck, West of Lankayan, is a sunken fishing boat that is home to a variety of fish. It has a depth of between 15 and 20 meters, making it ideal for both experienced and less experienced divers. Lankayan is accessible throughout the year, although the period between March and October is ranked by many as the best time.
Layang Layang Island
Layang Layang Island, near Kota Kinabalu is another incredible location for all kinds of divers. The warm waters and large coral walls provide excellent diving sites including the lagoon, the valley, Gorgonian forest and dog tooth lair. Layang Layang Island has an abundance of hammerhead fish, spotted during their mating season in April and May.
Peninsular Malaysia has diving sites in Perhentian, Redang and Tioman Island. Tioman is one of the world’s most beautiful islands, and has a population of about 500 people. It houses some of Malaysia’s exotic marine and animal species. This charming island has numerous diving spots for all levels of divers like the Salang House Wreck.
Expect to see
When scuba diving in Malaysia, expect to see a large variety of marine life. From whale sharks, barracuda, green and hawksbill turtles at Sipadan to snake eels, cuttlefish, nudibranchs and harlequin shrimps at Mabul. Paradise 1 and 2 in Mabul Islands contain several species of ray, coral and mandarin fish.When scuba diving in Malaysia, you are guaranteed to see nudibranchs, frog fish, stone fish, ghost pipefish and leaf fish at Kapalai, shrimp, rabbit fish and blue fusiliers at twin city in Lankayan, rays, yellow jaw fish and leopard sharks at the jaw fish lair, and lionfish, scorpion fish and cuttle fish at the jetty wreck. And of course, different varieties of enchanting coral, and nudibranchs to dazzle.