Photographing turtles in Sipadan. William Warby / Creative Commons
Don't travel to Malaysia without suiting up and diving its depths: the colorful undersea life and breathtaking views are worth it. Lacking the proper PADI certification? Don't sweat it, Malaysia's also the best place to learn.
Diving beginners should head on over to the Perhentian islands off the coast of Terengganu state. These two islands – Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil – host some of the best dive spots off peninsular Malaysia, and a number of inexpensive diving course providers too.
The calm waters allow peaceful snorkeling among the coral-rich waters, but you'll see more as you descend further below the surface: scorpionfish, rabbitfish, Christmas-tree worms, and an abundance of turtles circle divers as they explore the islands' many dive sites.
Wreck divers can venture to nearby Pulau Redang, where the remains of two World War II-era ships can be found several metres under water.
If you're looking for a real challenge (and the amazing underwater views that come with it), head on over to Sipadan. Malaysia's only oceanic island lies off the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah, in waters that graze Indonesia's and the Philippines' maritime borders.
The island's peaceful presence above water belies the marvels found beneath it. Hundreds of coral species and over 400 species of fish thrive in these waters; bumphead parrotfish, barracuda, massive schools of jacks, and thresher sharks, among others.
A trip to Sipadan usually includes visits to nearby Mabul Island, site of some of the world's best muck diving. Before you can dive at either island, though, you'll need to queue up for one of 120 permits issued daily – diving in these parts is literally reserved for a select few!
Snorkeling at Perhentian Besar. Image courtesy of Tourism Malaysia.
Sipadan Water Village. Barry Peters / Creative Commons.
Clownfish in Sipadan. Joshua Nguyen / Creative Commons.
Turtle in Sipadan. Daniel Kwok / Creative Commons
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Divers in Southeast Asia won't know where to start, with the overflow of diving spots they'll find across the region. Other key diving destinations include the waters off Brunei; Indonesia's part of the Coral Triangle; Koh Rong in Cambodia; Tubbataha and Apo Reefs in the Philippines; and Phuket in Thailand.
Off the coast of Cambodia’s popular beach destination Sihanoukville, Koh Rong offers the complete tropical island exper...
Yangon in Myanmar; Chiang Mai in Thailand; Luang Prabang in Laos Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia; and Ho Chi Minh City (...VIEW DETAILS
It'll be a week to remember! Start at Boracay, where you'll bask under the tropical sun, go island hopping, or try ou...VIEW DETAILS
At the Phnom Krom pier near Siem Reap in Cambodia, you’ll board the charming 10-cabin Toum Tiou luxury cruiser. Sail to...VIEW DETAILS
Resorts World Sentosa Singapore 3D2N Hotel & Multi-Attractions PackageVIEW DETAILS
• Helicopter Tours - Kintamani Volcano Sky Tour, Bedugul Lake Sky Tour, Uluwatu Coastline Sky Tour, Kuta Beach & Ta...VIEW DETAILS
Resorts World Sentosa Singapore F&B TreatsVIEW DETAILS
Go on an epic Asean journey with AirAsia Asean Pass, a travel pass that allows you to book our base fares at least 14 days or...VIEW DETAILS
Rent a car for 2 days or more at participating locations in Asia and enjoy up to 15% offVIEW DETAILS
Positioned as a mid-tier class hotel, the 172 rooms Parc Sovereign Hotel – Albert St serves to impress guests with its ...VIEW DETAILS
Enjoy a Suite stay in UNESCO Heritage Penang, Malaysia. Reserve a one night stay, and extend the second night at 25% discoun...VIEW DETAILS
Stay in a heritage icon uniquely sited on a landscaped hillock within the famed shopping and entertainment district of Orchar...VIEW DETAILS