Best Diving sites in Malaysia

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If you have dived in Malaysia before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip ;)

Scuba Diving in Malaysia is excellent. The country is divided into 2 parts and it may not be likely that you’ll have the time to travel both.

  • Sabah province, the Malaysian Borneo features quite simply some of the best diving in the world for big fishes such as in Sipadan and Layang Layang or for muck diving with Mabul Island. However, diving these places is maybe more suitable for experienced divers. You can watch this nice video if you want to see how it looks like underwater in particular in Sipadan Island!
  • Peninsular Malaysia features many islands among the most beautiful in the world such as the Perhentians Islands, Redang Island and Tioman Island on the east coast and Langkawi Island on the west Coast. These islands offer white sandy beaches, thriving coral reefs and are covered with lush tropical jungle. On these Islands, scuba diving and snorkelling is good to very good and mostly easy.

Generally speaking, you will encounter on all the diving places in Malaysia a great marine life and superb coral. In many sites, you can spot Manta Rays and huge schools of pelagic fishes. Reef Sharks and turtles are also very common.

Borneo is one of the few places in the world where you can spot hundreds of Hammerhead Sharks in a single dive. The best chance to see them is in Layang Layang and sometimes (if you’re lucky) in Sipadan.

Diving in Malaysia is truly a great experience for underwater macro photographers with amazing muck diving and rare critters to find like for example in Kapalai Island ;-) .

Beginners can learn scuba diving for very cheap in places like the Perhentians islands or Tioman Island.

In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Malaysia.

Photos Malaysia

Best Dive Review

Muck diving

Malaysia has some of the best muck diving locations in the world. The best dive sites for macro stuff are located in Borneo around the Islands of Mabul and Kapalai.

Mabul is world famous for the great number of rare species of critters you can find. The most widely known are the giant frog fish, the Mimic Octopus or the rare flamboyant cuttlefish! You can also spot a Blue-ringed Octopus and many rare species of Nudibranch.

Maybe the most interesting dive site is the Seaventure platform. It is a former oil rig located 500 m offshore from Mabul and has been transformed in a diving resort. It is possible to dive under the platform and you will see the most amazing biodiversity and great macro pictures opportunities. On Froggy Lair dive spot you can often see the rare ornate ghost pipefish.

Kapalai is like paradise for underwater macro photography with very good conditions and a great variety of macro subjects for photo lovers. Night diving can be done directly off the jetty on a site called Mandarin Valley where you can find the famous Mandarin fish!

Both Islands are also the perfect starting point to dive Sipadan Island.

Another great location for muck diving is situated in Lankayan Island in the North of Sabah. It is one of the few destinations which offer at the same place macro diving, easy wreck diving and very beautiful coral.

Wreck Diving

Malaysia doesn’t offer overly spectacular Wreck diving as in some places. However, you can still find many small wrecks, generally sunken illegal fishing boats, for example in Langkawi Island or on the Perhentians Islands with the Sugar wreck worth to explore.

Diving Malaysia

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nodust/4941954306/

How to dive Malaysia?

Malaysia is very easy to dive. There are numerous dive centres in the touristy areas. However, some dive centres do have lower safety standards and you should choose your dive operator carefully. On the islands of Mabul, Kapalai, Lankayan and Mataking, there are very good diving resorts.

As most of the islands are close from the mainland, there are just a few liveaboards in Malaysia. Two liveaboards explore the Layang Layang atoll and one is cruising around Sipadan.

There are several areas you can dive, check out our other Guides at the bottom of the page.

Peninsular Malaysia

  • Perhentians Islands
  • Redang Island
  • Tioman Island
  • Langkawi Island

Sabah, Borneo

  • Sipadan Island
  • Mabul Island
  • Layang Layang
  • Lankayan Island
  • Kapalai Island

Tioman Island

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soham_pablo/560470482/

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Malaysia as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

Best time to dive in Malaysia

It is possible to dive Malaysia all year round. However local monsoon forbid diving at certain times of the year in some places.

When it is the Monsoon on the West coast it is the dry season on the East coast and vice versa.

East coast

  • Dry season from April to October, average temperature of 27°C.
  • Rainy season from November to March, average temperature of 29°C.
  • Peak tourist season runs in July and August

The diving season is from April to October. The best visibility is generally around summer time. The water temperature is between 27°C to 30°C year round.

West coast

It is possible to dive year round. Air temperature ranges between 25 °C and 32 °C. However some months are affected by heavy rains.

  • Dry season from mid November to mid April, with very little rain
  • Mid-season runs from April to August with light precipitations.
  • Rainy season from September to November. It rains every day for about 2 hours and at night.

The peak tourist season is during the dry season. Prices drop during the rainy season and it can be a great deal for low budget travellers.

The best diving time also runs during the dry season with better visibility.

Sabah, Borneo

It is possible to dive all year round in Sabah. However, Sipadan Island is very famous and popular and during high seasons such as during July/August, December/January and Chinese New Year it is advised to book well in advance!

Refer to the destinations pages to know more about their specific weather.

As you can imagine the best time to go diving is during the dry season and the worst time during the rainy season when the visibility is reduced (but this is also the peak tourist time) so the choice is up to you.

Scuba Diving conditions

Air temperature: 25°C to 32 °C depending on the location and the season

Average Water temperature: ranges from 26°C to 30°C year round

Average Visibility: You can expect from 5m to 60m depending on the season and location.

Current: Depends a lot on tide and location, ranges from none to fierce. Mostly gentle current in Peninsular Malaysia and stronger in Borneo.

Depth: From 5m to 40m. Coral reef are shallow and most of the dive sites are between 10 and 20 meters deep.

Snorkelling in Malaysia

Malaysia has terrific snorkelling possibilities! In most places it is possible to arrange a snorkelling day trip with local people. On the Islands located on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, you will find superb and easy snorkelling for example in Tioman Island, Redang Island or on the Perhentians Island. In Malaysia it is common to spot harmless blacktip reef sharks and turtles in shallow waters.

Diving Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Malaysia, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this travel insurance as they offer worldwide coverage as they offer worldwide coverage and cover scuba diving up to 50 metres deep, as well as snorkelling and many more water activities.

Travel Guide

Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Malaysia Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.

Diving Reviews for this region

Pom Pom Island

Nice and easy diving in a remote and beautiful island. Good spot for macro diving and underwater photography. Pulau Pom Pom is a great place to relax in the Celebes Sea in Sabah, Borneo.

Pom Pom Island Diving Review

Mataking Island

Great place for easy diving and snorkelling with beautiful reefs and coral gardens. Interesting macro diving, all in a remote and beautiful Island. Pulau Mataking is the place to be if you want to feel like Robin Crusoe with all the comforts.

Mataking Island Diving Review

Tioman island

Nice and easy diving in clear water and beautiful coral reefs. Good location to take diving courses.

Tioman island Diving Review

Perhentian Islands

Nice and easy diving with nice coral and rich marine life. The snorkelling is very good with many harmless blacktip reef sharks.

Perhentian Islands Diving Review

Langkawi Island

Easy and relaxing diving for all level divers. Good wreck diving opportunities.

Langkawi Island Diving Review

Sipadan

Big fishes Land! Incredible Marine Life with tons of fishes everywhere... Fantastic coral and very good visibility.

Sipadan Diving Review

Mabul Island

Muck Diving Paradise and superb playground for macro photography with rare critter species.

Mabul Island Diving Review

destination of the month

Layang Layang

Schooling Hammerheads Sharks!!! Outstanding visibility, marine life, and pristine coral...

Layang Layang Diving Review

Lankayan

Very good muck and wreck diving with superb coral. Good chances to spot a whale Shark during the season.

Lankayan Diving Review

Kapalai, Sabah

Very easy and shallow Macro diving. Great place for underwater photography and Night Diving.

Kapalai, Sabah Diving Review

Liveaboard Cruises in this region

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31 dive logs in “Malaysia

  1. Hello, I am going to be diving in Malaysia in mid September this year, and I was just wondering if you knew of any good hotels to stay in on Tioman Island? I am not looking to spend too much money, but would also like to stay somewhere nice with close beach access. Thank you!

    • Hello Aubrey,

      I can’t recommed you any particular hotel as there are so many guesthouses with nice bungalows by the beach. Just walk along the beach and I am sure you will find your perfect place for a reasonable price ;-) .

    • Thanks Julien. I have booked a few nights at Bamboo Hill Chalets. It is very cheap and basic, but it is right on the beach and I will be spending most of my time in the water :)

      I can’t wait!

  2. I haven’t dived in Malaysia but I’m heading there in a few days and I’d like to do my advanced open water in a good resort with lots of marine life and activity. I’ll be arriving in Kuala lumpur, so probably easiest if I can dive round the peninsula.

    Any advice on the best resort to visit would be appreciated..

    • Hello Steve! The best diving is in Borneo but you can still fnd really good diving resorts in peninsular Malaysia. Try Pulau Redang, or Pulau Perhentian Besar. Tioma has also a few great resorts.

  3. Hey hey! what a cool www ;)
    what r the best times to be in Mexico /Cancun to catch the high season 4 scuba diving?

  4. I have been diving in Sipadan, Malaysia.
    Fantastic dive-site, lots of fish in large groups, turtles, different sharks, barracuda-spin, nice coral, deep walls and clear water. It is hard to get out of the water…so four dives a day are a must! The perfect resort is Kapalai – I will never forget the sunsets there!
    Very nice for small things is diving Mabul. Get the cameras ready!
    One sad thing: while diving we heard the dynamite fishing from far away but still very scary!

  5. Dear Julien,
    Friends will be coming to Singapore this year and I would like to organize a diving trip with them during the first weekend of March (1st-3rd).
    Do you think that we’ll be likely to see whale sharks at that time on the islands of Perhentian/Redang?
    If not, when is the best time to see them on the Northeastern coast of Malaysia? Thank you for your answer!
    Cheers,
    Guillaume

  6. Hi,
    I would like to buy a water proof camera case and a camera (canon) for diving.
    Do you have any suggestions ?
    I’m gonna by in Kuala Lumpur for the next fews days, do you know a place where i can buy the water proof camera ?

    Thank you

    • I’m based in KL, but dive mainly around Borneo. Personally I used a Powershot S95 for underwater photos. Just a headsup that camera gear in KL tends to be pricey and underwater cases even more so. Depending where you’re from, you may want to get your gear elsewhere before coming down.

  7. hey,
    a group of friends were planning to go to either Thailand or Malaysia to go diving in the end f june (beginning July).
    I was just wondering which one was a better choic. we were initially thinking of staying in krabi, but most sites say the monsoons set in around then and the similans will be closed.
    is there an equivalent place to go to in Malaysia?

    • For pure diving, try East Malaysia. West Malaysia has better facilities, but overdiving has affected the quality of the dive sites.

      However if you’re looking for the party/beachlife atmosphere then I’m sad to say Malaysia hasn’t got quite the same style as Thailand. Closest would be Phuket or Langkawi in West Malaysia… and they’re far from Krabi’s standard!

  8. I completed my open water diver licence at Pulau Tioman. The instructor Ezzaaq from Azmi dive centre is very patiient. I spent four days there to complete the course. The visibility is about 10-12m. we dive to about 17m deep. The coral was beautiful and a lot of clown fish is found.The current is not strong during June 2013.

  9. I just finished my open water course in the mid of April at Perhentian Island, Terengganu, Malaysia. That was my first experience in diving, so I don’t have much thing to tell. I did the course was not on purpose, it just happen because my uncle wants to treat me for my excellent result in exam. But, now I realize that diving is fun and exciting (:

    regards from the beginner.

  10. Hi All,

    I want dive in Malaysia (or Indonesia) in late March 2014. I have already dived in the Sipadan (and it was amazing) area and I would love some tips on the best dive sites at that time. All tips are welcome.

  11. Hey, I’m going diving in March 2014, am really wanting to see whale sharks or any other sharks really!
    Can you guys recommend any dive sites where I might be able to see these at that time of year?
    Thanks!

    • I ve been diving all the best places in SE Asia and the best is definitely Komodo marine park in Indonesia. But this is kind of chanllenging dives as the current is usually insanely strong… Philli

  12. Hi, I wish to learn how to dive this Dec. Any specific recommendations on who can I get in touch with? Understand that Sipadan is already closed and only those that have logged 20dives are eligible to dive there. Hence, any other place I can get started and get certified? Thanks a lot in advance!

  13. Hi there!
    We (me, my husb, and my 9 months old son) are leaving Indonesia after 3 months here in a couple of days. We were thinking to see also Malaysia and we obviously want to do some diving (both instructors), maybe find a job there, but at least visit a bit the country. We are on a low budget as you can imagine, so we’d love to get some suggestions on where to fly to and where to sleep and dive a bit (we fly from Manado).
    Thanks a lot!
    MMD

  14. Awesome video and website!! Thank you so much. My bf and I would like to learn how to dive when we go to Malaysia from Feb 25 to March 2. Are these good season to go? Also, where in Malaysia in Sabah area is good for beginners who want to try for the first time? We would like to stay at a diving resort at a beautiful island for 1 night. Thanks a lot for your help!! :) Fanny

  15. Hello everyone!

    I’m Dell from Malaysia and recently being certified as an Advanced Diver.

    I went to Tioman Island in Pahang, Malaysia for my Open Water and Advanced Open Water licenses.

    I summarize as follows:-
    a) to go there, you must take a ferry either from Tanjung Gemok or Mersing Jetty. Return ride costs less than RM80.00/pax. I recommend Blue Water Express ferry;
    b) the ferry ride takes approx. 2 hours from the jetty to Tioman Island;
    c) the ferry will stop at six (6) jetties namely Kg. Genting, Kg.Paya, Kg. Lalang, ABC, Tekek and Kg. Salang (Note that Tekek is the most developed village with ATM machine – BSN, police station, etc. while other villages only have basic accomodations i.e. chalets, food courts, dive centres, etc.);
    d) the cost of living in Tioman Island is DOUBLE compared to the mainland. Obviously the food costs higher there. Tips: bring your own food from the mainland to save cost;
    e) there are lots of Dive Centres to choose from. I recommend Scubanaut @ Kg. Salang as they will treat you as part as their family there (plus, many local celebrities had dived with them);
    f) there are many diving sites at Tioman Island namely Soyak Island, Renggis Island, Chebeh Island, Sepoi Island, Tiger Reef, KM Sipadan to name a few. You can ask the dive centre for recommendations and other details;
    g) At KM Sipadan, you may experience three (3) wreck dives at once but only if you’re allowed too (Allowable Bottom Time) as the wrecks are located 30m under. To go there, you need to ride a speedboat;
    h) FYI, you can do many shore dives from the beach itself or from the jetty. But please be aware of the incoming and outgoing ferries;
    j) there are also dive centres that provide night dive;
    k) since you will be in a tropical country, expect the sea temperature to be from 25 – 30 celsius. you may not need a wetsuit to dive;
    l) if you have hard time to equalize, please bring along a nasal spray (you can get this from the pharmacy) before you depart to Tioman Island;
    m) I also recommend divers to bring along your underwater cameras, so you can brag amongst your friends. HAHA!;
    n) you may experience blackout during your stay but worry less, since they have back-up supply (generators);
    p) here in Malaysia, bare sun-basking is extremely prohibited. unless, you’re on a private island;
    q) lastly, you’re recommended to visit Tioman Island from January to August, before the monsoon season

    These are what I can share with you guys and will definitely give further details shall you have further enquiries ^___^

    Experience dive in Tioman Island, and you won’t regret it!

    Love, Dell

  16. Hey!
    I am 19 years old from Pakistan,
    I am not a swimmer, but I really want to do diving in Malaysia. Can you please tell we really need to known swimming for doing diving???
    Waiting for your answer
    Thank you

  17. Hello, I am going to be diving in Malaysia in mid August, 201. Which is the nearest (and good diving site near Kuala Lumpur?
    Do you recommend any operator?
    Thanks in advance.

  18. I’m planning to go somewhere this year… Would anyone give me some suggestion… I don’t want to go beach side… Other than beach… I’m not worring about the price… Suggest me beautiful place in Malaysia expect Sabah, Sarawak, Penang, Perlis & langkawi

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