Diving in Malaysia is suitable for all levels of divers as waters are generally calm and reefs are protected. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia can be dived from March to September while diving in East Malaysia is year-round. Water temperature is warm at 82-86°F (28-30°C) and most dive sites can be accessed by speed boats without any need for diving via a liveaboard vessel.
In the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, islands like Redang, Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Tenggol and Tioman are suitable for new divers but also attracts experienced divers. There are many dive operators to choose from and stretches of healthy coral reef to explore as well as some pinnacles and shipwrecks.
In East Malaysia, diving is more exciting. You can head to Miri in the state of Sarawak to dive at the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park. Better yet, go straight to Sabah to access world-class diving at Sipadan Island, Layang-Layang Island and macro dives at Mabul Island. Layang-Layang Island is an area for deep dives of up to 130ft (40m) so make sure you have the right certifications.
As for Sipadan Island, make sure to dive with operators with access to diving permits and book your trip in advance to ensure that you secure a permit as there are only 120 permits available per day.
Diving at the islands off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is rewarding. These islands are frequented by several turtle species including the green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, and if you are very lucky, you might see a leatherback sea turtle.
Besides turtles, expect to find blacktip sharks, leopard sharks and large schools of yellowtail snapper. At Tenggol Island, whale shark sightings are possible during July to August. Macro lovers will have plenty to see in this area, as there are many species of nudibranch, scorpionfish, pipefish, octopus and eels littered around the healthy reefs.
In East Malaysia, Sipadan Island’s steep walls are always bustling with activity. You will see many whitetip sharks and green sea turtles during your dives. A highlight is a dive site called Barracuda Point where a huge school of resident barracuda are often seen swimming in a vortex at the drop-off.
At Layang-Layang Island, the months of April and May are a good time to catch sight of schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks in the depths. For critter hunting, Mabul Island has a treasure trove of critters like nudibranch, stonefish, scorpionfish, filefish, cuttlefish and also the deadly blue-ringed octopus.
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