Malaysia doesn’t just have awesome beaches – it’s also a great place to be under the water!
If you are keen to get your scuba on, this post will help! We talked to other divers to make this list of the best diving in Malaysia where you can find the best diving spots in Malaysia whether you are looking for Sabah Malaysia diving or scuba diving in Langkawi Malaysia – we have it here!
Best Diving In Malaysia: The Best Malaysia Dive Sites
Here are our top 5 best dive sites in Malaysia…
Scuba Diving at Sipadan
Sipadan Island (or Pulau Sipadan in Malay) is a tiny Malaysia diving island in the Celebes Sea, off the coast of Sabah, Malaysia. Together with two other small islands, Kapalai and Mabul, if forms the dive destination Sipadan. Right in the center of the Indo-Pacific Basin it’s one of richest marine ecosystems in the world, with amazing marine biodiversity.
After exploring Malaysian Borneo on land, it was amazing to see its wonderful underwater world. Sipadan is one of the top dive destinations in the world and it was some of the best diving we’ve ever done by far. It should be top of any list of best places to dive in Malaysia.
Dive permits for Sipadan are limited, so you’ll need to book a certain number of dive days to ensure you’ll be able to dive there (in the high season about 4 to 5 days). However, there are many excellent dive sites at the other two islands that are well worth your while as well.
Sipadan can only be reached by boat. The nearest airport is on the mainland, in Tawau, which is about 90 minutes drive from the nearest large town Semporna. From Semporna, your Sipadan resort will arrange a pick up by speedboat, which takes approximately 45 minutes.
We stayed at Seaventures dive rig, a refurbished oil rig right off the coast of Mabul Island. The unusual accommodations definitely added to the experience and the house reef right underneath the platform was a big plus.
Best Accommodation: Seaventures Dive Rig Resort Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Lisa from Scuba Around The World
Diving in Kota Kinabalu
The pristine islands, white sand beaches and rich marine life make Kota Kinabalu a perfect destination for diving Borneo Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu, KK as the locals call it, has a bunch of attractions other than diving. Once you are at the KK International Airport, it’s easy to get to the city center as well as the city attractions.
From KK city, it took us around 15 minute boat ride to get to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which is home to a handful of tiny islands. These islands host plenty of water themed activities like diving, snorkeling, kayaking, water rides, parasailing and jet skiing. The variety of activities makes it a fun place to visit with family and friends in addition to being one of the best Malaysia dive sites.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park offers excellent diving spots even for novice divers. For those who do not want to go on a group tour, there are plenty of licensed independent dive tours available. There will be an English speaking guide and a driver in most tours.
I found the whole diving experience to be magical, with stunning coral reefs and cute little marine life specimens.
Gaya and Manukan are the two tourist-friendly islands among the lot. Both of these islands have some luxury resorts, star hotels and a couple of decent restaurants. No wonder people from all parts of the world are flocking to Kota Kinabalu for a fun vacation.
Contributed by Nitha from The Trailing Mom
Diving in Lankayan Island
If you are looking for where to dive in Malaysia then Lankayan Island is a great choice. It is a tropical paradise, and not just because of the diving.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a Robinson Crusoe fantasy of living on a deserted island, this is the place. Located nearer to the sea border with the Philippines than to Malaysia, Lankayan Island comprises only about 2.5 hectares, all of it privately-owned by Pulau Sipadan Resort and Tours.
It’s not the fanciest of resorts – no pool or other entertainment and no screens – but it’s absolutely lovely. The island is home to this one resort, a dive center, a turtle hatchery, and that’s all.
The biggest moments of excitement in our very laid-back stay at Lankayan were the times that baby sea turtles were released to the sea after hatching. Watching them run frantically down to the water was a delight. We also were fortunate enough to see a huge turtle laying eggs on the beach and burying them before returning down the sand to the water.
We found the PADI-certified dive center to be well-equipped and professionally-staffed in every respect. On our dives, we visited pristine reefs where, while the corals were not particularly colorful, the other inhabitants more than made up for it: brilliant blue clams, stunning fish of all sorts, bright starfish, sea turtles, and so on. The “house reef” just next to the dive center is perfect for your non-diving family to do some great snorkeling.
If you book Lankayan, the resort will provide transportation from Sandakan. The boat ride is a very fast and bumpy 90-minute trip.
Contributed by Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations
Diving in the Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands are probably one of the most spectacular diving destinations I have ever been to. The marine life around the two tiny islands from the South China Sea is so varied and colourful, with many different types of fish, sharks and turtles.
There are two Perhentian Islands : Kecil – the cheap one – and Besar – the more developed and more expensive one. As a backpacker, I chose to stay and explore Perhentian Kecil, at Maya’s Chalet.
Do take into consideration that Perhentian Kecil is a very small island with no frills, so there is barely any electricity (two hours in the evening) and only a couple of places have hot water. However, the spectacular diving in one of the best diving places in Malaysia makes this worthwhile.
To reach the Perhentian Islands, you need to jump on a speed boat in Kuala Besut and prepare for a bumpy ride. There are boats every hour.
There are plenty of diving shops around Long Bay and Coral Bay, the two main beaches of the island, and the prices are very reasonable. It’s also a popular destination to learn diving in Malaysia.
There are over 20 different spots to dive around the island, and with the crystal-clear water, the visibility under the water is great. There are ship wrecks to explore, swim through corals and observe the black tip reef sharks swimming along. This type of sharks have no interest in humans, unless provoked, so they are not dangerous and it’s a great place for shark diving Malaysia.
Best Accommodation: Maya Chalet Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Joanna from The World In My Pocket
Diving in Langkawi
Diving in Langkawi is an activity for everyone, no matter if you are experienced or an amateur. Although you can enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving in Pulau Langkawi, the most beautiful reefs are around Pulau Payar Marine Park.
In this area, you will see barracudas, snappers, cod and many other fascinating fish. To book your trip, just walk around any main street in Langkawi and look for tour operators. Don’t forget to negotiate the price!
You can set the pick up location with your tour operator and you won’t have to worry about anything else. Well, there is one thing: do not forget to purchase travel insurance that includes extreme sports.
Although you can go scuba diving in Langkawi all around the year, try to avoid September and October when it’s the rainy season. This is a good choice for diving in Malaysia in December.
If you’re wondering where to stay, I totally recommend the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort. This is one of the most beautiful resorts on the island. Situated right on the beach, between tall palm trees, this resort is a dream. Enjoy!
Best Accommodation: Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Aurelia from Daily Travel Pill
Do you agree? What’s your pick for the best scuba diving in Malaysia?
Joshua is an Australian who has fallen in love with Malaysia! He explores Malaysia at least a few times a year and has previously lived in Penang.