Malaysia is one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia for diving and viewing breathtaking marine life.There are hundreds of islands within Malaysia, most of which are accessible to tourists.Some of the popular islands have modern infrastructure and facilities while the less developed islands do not provide accomodation for tourists. Malaysia has a coastline of 4,800 km and is blessed with some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in Asia. Pristine beaches with powdery soft sand, surrounded by sapphire waters with clear visibility to see the stunning marine life and breathtaking sunsets awaits the traveller. Besides diving and snorkelling, many of the beaches are ideal for kayaking, windsurfing and other water activities.
Sipadan is Malaysia’s only oceanic island and it is found off the coast of Borneo. It is one of the world’s top destinations for diving. Encounters with the many types of corals and marine life makes every dive a memorable experience. At the Drop Off, there is a 680-metre sheer drop into the ocean where there is an abundance of corals, Bumphead parrotfish and other large fishes. There are over 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species here.
At Barracuda Point, one can experience a spectacular encounter with hundreds of Barracuda at a time. A truly magical experience! Other marine life include Porcupine pufferfish, unicornfish, Moorish idols, Batfish, groupers to name a few. Also found in large numbers are Giant Moray eels, gray reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks and turtles. Sipadan is also home to huge Gorgonian sea fans, anemones, large black corals, barrel sponges and gigantic soft tree corals. It is the ultimate diving destination where a diver can see rare species of marine and coral life.
To get to Sipadan
Fly from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau Airport ( Sabah ). Then a 90-minute drive from Tawau to the port of Semporna. Finally a 40-minute boat ride to Mabul where the accomodations are found. There is no accommodation available on Sipadan Island.
Selingan, Gulisan and Bakungan Kecil make up Turtle Islands, located off Sabah’s east coast. This area was gazetted as a marine park in 1977 to protect the breeding grounds of the sea turtles. All year round, Green and Hawksbill turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. There are hatcheries on all the 3 islands with park staff residing on these islands. Selingan Island is the most developed of these islands and has a visitor centre. Accomodation can be found here with a limit placed on the number of visitors allowed to stay on the island. Highlights here include witnessing turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs and releasing young hatchlings into the sea.
The crystal clear water is excellent for snorkelling or diving. Many varieties of fish and coral reefs to fascinate the visitors.
To get there : Fly to Sandakan from Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu
From Sandakan Harbour, take a speedboat to the island. ( 1 hr )
This island is about 45 minutes by speedboat from Langkawi Island and diving can be done all year round. The waters here are teeming with snappers, barracudas and jacks. There are also large colonies of soft and hard corals, stunning with their beautiful colours and varieties. Here can also be found many types of reef fish, groupers and stunning Anemones.
Pulau Redang is one of the most popular islands, is easily accessed by speedboats from Kuala Terengganu and directly accessible by air. There are plenty of accomodations here, depending on the tourists’ budget. There are many coral gardens with the stunning mushroom corals and green staghorn corals. Gorgonian seafans, sponges and sea anemones add vibrant colours to the surroundings. Large groups of sergeant majors, groupers, green Triggerfish, parrotfish, jacks and fusiliers swim among whip corals, cup corals and soft tree corals. Green turtles and the elusive loggerhead turtle have been sighted during the diving expeditions.
This island is one of the top island destinations of Malaysia and is famous for its superb marine life. Pulau Perhentian is a marine park and consists of 2 islands, Pulau Perhentian Kechil and Pulau Perhentian Besar. There are many chalets which are situated near the sea and cafes, bars can be found along the beaches. Angelfish, blue-spotted stingrays, boxfish, giant groupers make their home here. Occasionally, the diver may spot the green turtles and manta rays. Plenty of large staghorn corals, lettuce coral and table corals to impress the divers. Other activities available here are snorkelling,windsurfing, sailing and jungle trekking.
Pulau Tioman is an island located off the state of Pahang in Malaysia. It is easily accessible by boat or by air making this a great island to visit. There are many huge submerged boulders and wrecks in these waters. Moorish Idols, cuttlefish and turtles are common sights here. Huge Gorgonian sea fans and gardens of corals add beauty to the surroundings. Giant manta rays have been sighted here.
Tioman was the setting for “Bali Hai’ in the musical South Pacific, Hollywood production. This island is large and there are a few villages where the traveller can stroll and experience the serene charm of life on an island.
These 2 islands are near to each other and are located off the coast of Johor. The water is pristine and offers excellent visibility of the marine life. Bumphead parrotfish and Dogface pufferfish can be spotted here. Green turtles and the blue-spotted stingray have been sighted in these waters. Whale sharks and Manta rays have been seen in these waters.
This island off the coast of Terengganu offers the excitement of wall diving for the experienced diver. This exceptional diving site has over 20 dive sites and is home to a famous wreck. The marine life here include batfish, moray eels, turtles, leopard sharks and Humphead parrotfish. If the diver is lucky, whale sharks may be seen between the months of July and September
This island has its own village and the waters around the island has stunning marine life. Colourful sea slugs, nudibranchs, frogfish, crocodilefish, scorpionfish and the striking lionfish are found here. Other wonders include a cave where lobsters inhabit, seahorses and the rabbitfish.
Nearby are the islands of Kapalai and Mataking where the waters are rich with macro marine life. Ribbon eels, moray eels, dragonets leaffish and jawfish can be seen on diving expeditions. Some notable inhabitants here are the blue-ringed octopuses and the blue-spotted stingrays.
This is a unique island which consists of 13 coral atolls situated in the South China Sea. In the months between March and July large numbers of Hammerhead sharks can be seen in these waters. Dogtooth tuna, turtles, whitetip sharks and short-finned pilot whales may also be seen during a diving experience. Occasionally, one may spot a Leopard Shark here. Large numbers of flat table corals, gorgonian seafans sponges and sea whips will enthrall the divers with their diversity and colours.
Bohey Dulang Credit: Wazari