Scuba Diving Malaysia

It’s not surprising that Malaysia is regarded one of the world’s top dive destinations. 

Blessed with some of the richest waters in the world , Malaysia scuba diving offers a variety of experiences depending on where you are: being surrounded by hammerheads  at the pristine coral atoll of Layang Layang, cavorting with turtles and swirling tornadoes of barracudas in Sipadan Island  or discovering the weird and wonderful world of Malaysia’s incredible macro dive sites.

Home to prehistoric rainforests and a melting pot of culture, Malaysia is an amazing country to discover. Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.

One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.

Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.

Dive Areas Of Malaysia

Dive Areas of Malaysia

Islands surrounding Malaysia are renowned by divers all over the world as one of the best diving spots on the globe. Below the surface of many tropical islands you can experience the wonderful underwater world in all its glory. Great numbers of travelers visit Malaysia with the sole purpose of scuba diving. The best places to dive are the islands in the eastern part of Peninsular Malaysia and the islands in the eastern part of the Borneo province Sabah.

Borneo (Sabah)

SABAH is the Malaysia state located at the North-Eastern tip of the island of Borneo and is considered to be one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet. Surrounded by the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu and CelebesSeas on the east, it is covered in lush rainforests with an unsurpassed collection of plants and animal species above and below the water.  Malaysian Borneo is consider one of the worlds best dive destinations for everything from big fishes such of Sipadan and Layang Layang and for for muck diving at Mabul Island.

Sipadan Island     a marine paradise, is renowned among divers for its rich underwater biodiversity, pristine reefs, and sudden drop offs into the deep blue. Regularly ranked as one of the top ten diving destinations in the world Sipadan can be found in the Celebes Sea just off of Borneo Malaysia. Sipadan; is indeed a legend in diving circles, rising from a depth of more 600 meters from the bottom of the Celebes Sea – it is just a small island. This oceanic island rises as a pristine coral mount from the floor, to provide some of the world’s most awesome sceneries of marine life. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been identified in these ecosystems. With the top of long-lost lava chimney from a prehistoric volcano, its topside is covered by a large and thick tropical forest and ringed by a sandy beach. Just 15 feet from the beach, the water turns indigo blue as the sea drops abruptly to 2,850 feet deep! It is rather awe-inspiring to see myriad of colorful tropical fish swim in warm water near the water surface. Moreover, the water gets so dark that you can hardly see or know what lurks below.

Mabul & Kapali – For divers who tire of seeing big turtles and bigger sharks of Sipadan all day, nearby Mabul Island and Kapalai offer a variety.

Mabul – Island are just a 20-minute speedboat ride away offering hidden treasures such as small nudibranchs and pipefish.  In contrast to Sipadan’s large pelagics, Mabul Island which is just 15 minutes away out of Semporna by boat – is known for the peculiar, minute and exotic. Its reputation as one of the best macro diving sites in the world is built on its fairly regular sightings of critters like mandarin fish, Devil scorpion fish, ghost pipefish, stonefish, frogfish, crocodile fish, mantis shrimp, snake eels, seahorses and vivid nudibranchs.

Kapalai –  Diving around Kapalai is spectacular, hosting an amazing array of small, colorful creatures – the diving here is an unforgettable experience for any discerning photographer. The resort offers three dives a day, including trips to Sipadan for spectacular wall diving and Mabul for muck diving.

Layang Layang –  is a top dive destination featuring warm crystal clear waters rich in both pelagic and macro diving. The ring of reefs form a calm lagoon within the center of the atoll but outside adventure looms. The coral walls plunge down to the sea floor 2000 metres below as barracuda, hawksbill turtles, manta rays, and tuna swim in the nearby open ocean. Rich in marine life the most sought after creature here is the hammerhead sharks which are found in abundance during the April-May mating season.

 Lankayan – A jewel-like tiny island in the Sulu Sea, a 1.5 hour boat rides north of Sandakan has been declared part of an immense Marine Protected Area to adopt the eco-tourism concept. Unpopulated and covered by thick tropical island vegetation on its topside, this peaceful, untouched little bit of paradise is ringed by an endless pure white sandy beach. While the ideal destination for those who search for tranquility and relaxation in a virgin natural setting and for families with children, Lankayan Island is also becoming one of the hottest diving destinations on the map today: its dive sites – all just a few minutes away – boasting unbelievably colorful macro, fauna, fascinating wrecks and in season from March to May, regular sightings of gigantic and harmless whale sharks, the “dream date ” of every diver in the world. Situated within the Sea Turtle Corridor, Lankayan Island is also a nesting place and foraging ground for sea turtles; most commonly Green and Hawksbill Turtle. Therefore, guests will have a chance to see turtles nesting as well as new hatchlings of baby turtles released to the sea especially in season from June to Sept

Peninsular Malaysia      

Peninsular Malaysia features many islands among the most beautiful in the world.   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

The Perhentian Islands  lie off the northeast corner of peninsular Malaysia just south of Thailand and have been attracting divers for years. Its shallow sandy flats teem with rays, parrotfish and cuttlefish. The islands are part of the Pulau Redang Marine Park, which was established more than two decades ago to protect local sea turtle populations.

Redang Island  The Redang Archipelago is a spread of nine islands in the South China Sea. Off Redang Island.  There are numerous dive sites – including beach, shallow and deep dives – to suit all skill levels. There are beautiful hard and soft corals in what some consider the world’s most developed coral gardens, as well as sandy bottom sites offering quality muck dives.

Tioman Island on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.  67 kilometers/41 miles off of the peninsula’s east coast, is a relatively undiscovered, world class dive destination. With seemingly endless white sand beaches and waving palm trees, it’s a great place to learn to dive. Plus, the nearby deep water and many wrecks mean that technical divers won’t be disappointed.

Langkawi Islands on the west Coast is officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah. Langkawi isn’t just one big island, but a cluster of 99 islands offering the best of many worlds: beautiful beaches, world- class infrastructure, mangroves rich in flora and fauna. Pulau Payar Marine Park is a popular site for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts keen on exploring Langkawi’s undersea action. Just 30km south of the main island.  One of Pulau Payar Marine Park’s best features is its Coral Garden, a secluded section of the ‘park’ with colourful coral beautifully


CLIMATE:  The country experiences tropical weather year-round. Temperatures range from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF).   November thru February is the rainy season on the east coast, but is considered an ideal time for visiting the west coast, which remains dry during those months.

LANGUAGE: While Malay is the national language the many ethnic groups also converse in their various languages and dialects, but English is also widely spoken.

ELECTRICITY:  Voltage is 220 – 240 Volt AC at 50 cycles per second. Malaysia uses standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets.

TIME ZONE: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of G.M.T., which is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. No daylight savings time is practiced.

CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM or MYR.   Notes are available in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100 denominations, while coins are issued in 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen (cents) denominations.  Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and money changers.

GRATUITIES: Tipping is not customary in Malaysia, though tips are always appreciated. A 10 % service charge is often added to restaurant and hotel bills, so you do not need to tip above the service charge. Taxi and rickshaw drivers are very appreciative of a small tip.

PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or prepaid card. International calls can also be made using phone cards or at any Telekom office.   Malaysia has several mobile telephone providers, and coverage around the country is strong. Check with your provider on international roaming rates, and what plans may be available. Broadband internet is available in most hotels, and in Internet Cafes around the country.

VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS:  Visitors to Malaysia must hold a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Most nationalities do not require visas for social or business visits. Immigration and customs checkpoints are situated at all air, sea, road and rail entry points.

DEPARTURE TAX: NO departure tax.

CUSTOMS:  Free import as follow:
– 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 225 grammes of tobacco;
– max. 1 litre of wine, spirits or malt liquor;
– max. 100 matches;
– cosmetics, perfumery, soaps and dentrifices in open containers to a total max. value of MYR 200.-;
– max. 3 pieces of new wearing apparel;
– one pair of new footwear;
– one unit of each portable electrical or battery operated appliance for personal care and hygiene;
– a total max. of MYR 75.- of dutiable food preparations;
– gifts and souvenirs up to a total value of max. MYR 200.- (except goods from Langkawi and Labuan, up to a total value of max. MYR 500.-).

The trafficking of illegal drugs is a serious offence in Malaysia and the penalty for such an offence is death.

GETTING THERE:  Set in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is easily accessible from most parts of the world by air, surface and sea links. Over 45 international airlines fly into the country while national carrier Malaysia Airlines has a global network that spans six continents and a national network that covers more than 36 local destinations.

International Airport:
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL)
Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI)
Langkawi International Airport (LGK)
Penang International Airport (PEN)
Malacca International Airport (MKZ)


Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place. However, it is important to observe the local customs and visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:

  • Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling. A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The man offers both hands, lightly touches his friend’s outstretched hands, and then brings his hands to his chest to mean, “I greet you from my heart”. The visitor should reciprocate the salam .
  • It is polite to call before visiting a home.
  • Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.
  • Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
  • The right hand is always used when eating with one’s hand or giving and receiving objects.
  • The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.
  • Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors. Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.
  • Toasting is not a common practice in Malaysia. The country’s large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.


Malaysian Immigration Department

Malaysia Tourism Information



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Scuba Diving Resource makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Please note that regulations and information can change at any time.

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