Because of its location in the Indo-Pacific basin, Malaysia is endowed with a biodiversity which is immensely rich and varied making diving here a special treat for all scuba diving enthusiasts. The country is divided in two parts separated by the South China Sea into Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Its primary dive sites are located along the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia as well as the area of East Malaysia on Borneo Islands. Pristine corals, wide variety of underwater flora and fauna as well as beautiful beachfront resorts makes Malaysia one of the most sought after dive destinations in the world. The surrounding waters of Malaysia are suitable for all levels of divers from beginner to the advanced. Water temperature here ranges from 25 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius while visibility ranges from 5 meters to up to 50 meters. The country has over 130 dive sites and almost all of them have liveaboard as well as land diving facilities.
Diving in Malaysia generally depends on the weather and it is advisable to avoid the area during monsoons as most resorts and ferries are shut down during this time due to the extreme weather conditions. July and August are considered to be the best time to dive in Malaysia when the water temperature is pleasant and attracts a high amount of varied fauna. Especially crowded during the peak season, it is advisable to book beforehand.
The Borneo region of the Eastern Malaysia is suitable for diving all throughout the year except for the Layang Layang region where it is only suitable from March to August. It is during this time that the famous scalloped hammerheads frequent the waters.
Sipadan is best visited for diving from April to December although the area doesn’t receive much rainfall and diving is possible all throughout the year. However, it is best to avoid diving here in January and February because the weather during this time can be particularly rough and unforgiving.
Turtle season in the Sipadan area is from April to September while most species here are constant creatures instead of seasonal ones. Sightings in Layang Layang increases from March to May where there are a number of species to discover and befriend in these waters.
To experience the best in the Mabul region, one must visit it from December to March whereas March to September can be very dry and have limited visibility. However, since this area is mostly popular for macro diving, visibility plays little or no role and divers can be seen frequenting it all throughout the year.
Peninsular Malaysia is open for diving from February to November and has a pleasant water temperature of 27 degree Celsius. Visibility here is between 10 and 40 meters and the area has comparatively stronger currents than the Borneo region.
There are over 100 dive sites strewn over both the Peninsular and the Eastern Malaysia. The average water temperature is a pleasant 26 degree Celsius and is an extreme delight to divers, especially the ones from Europe who are more used to chilly Mediterranean waters. Visibility ranges from a mere 5 meters to a whooping 40-50 meters and there are a wide variety of coral, fish, sharks, dolphins and other marine animals to see and marvel at in these waters. Below are some of the must visit dive regions to visit and explore for everyone who is interested in diving in magnificent Malaysia.
Sipadan is possibly one of the top notch dive regions of the world, Sipadan is legendary for the clear waters and amazing visibility available not to mention the wide range of marine diversity. Turtles and barracudas are extremely popular here whereas sharks and large fish can also be spotted. Best dive sites are the Barracuda Point, Drop Off, South Point and the Coral Garden. Beachfront resorts can easily be found here while there is one overnight liveaboard available. Visibility is between 10 and 30 meters and it is suitable for all kinds of divers.
Layang Layang is surrounded by a magnificent diverse marine life, Layang Layang is popular for the colourful and beautiful reefs available. Despite tourism and urbanization, this place remains free from pollution and the dive sites are pristine in condition with untouched coral beauty. A large number of fish including the dogtooth tuna, jacks and clams can be found here. Popular dive sites are the Shark’s Cave, Gorgonian Forest, Crack Reef and the Wrasse Strip. Liveaboard diving is not available here but a gorgeous resort is located on this tiny island. With a visibility ranging from 20 meters to 40 meters, the area has gentle currents and is suitable for both beginners and advanced divers.
Perhentian Islands, located at the northeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, is an extremely popular site for scuba diving amongst all levels of divers. Hard and soft corals, turtles, sharks and several species of fish reside in the waters surrounding the islands. The famous hawksbill sea turtle and green turtle reside here. June to October is the time when diving here is the best experienced. Important dive sites are the Pinnacle, the Redang Island and Shark Point. Visibility ranges from 15 meters to 30 meters and the water has a pleasant temperature of 25 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius.
Malaysia has an abundance of marine life and this holds for all dive sites in the area. Turtles are a specialty with five different water turtle species residing here. Mammals like the Dugong can also be found, especially around the areas of Sabah and Strait of Johor. Whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and reef sharks are present while there are about 20 kinds of sea snakes as well. A wide variety of over 1,200 species of fish can be found in these waters and there are about 600 species of coral residing here. Thousands of barracuda, trevallies, batfish, mackerel, snapper, shrimp, sea horse, octopus and stingray can be found. Mabul is known for its coral outcrops, potato groupers, frogfish, mantis shrimps, garden eels, lobsters, stingrays and big-eye trevally. Layang Layang is popular for being home to the scalloped hammerhead, manta rays, sharks and orcas while Sipadan is famous for barracudas, trevally, parrotfish, turtles, sharks and colourful coral walls. Banner fish, snappers and sharks can also be spotted.
Malaysia is a prime tourist destination with a rich cultural background and an immense number of activities and sights. The Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the beaches, elegant skyscrapers, magnificent malls and extremely beautiful parks are some of the many attractions in Malaysia. Ipoh and Malacca are extremely rich in cultural heritage while the capital city is much more contemporary with amusement parks, golf courses, trendy shopping centers, night clubs and restaurants. White water rafting, kite surfing, snorkeling and surfing are also widely popular tourist activities.