Known for weird & wonderful CRITTERS & swirling schools of pelagic fish, Malaysia will treat you to STEEP WALLS plus drop offs, overhangs, caves & crevices, positively FIRST-RATE CORALS & gigantic gorgonians. You'll see copious quantities of REEF FISH pulsating PELAGIC ACTION, giant groupers, tuna, surgeonfish and jacks. Add in a surprising variety of SHARK SPECIES ...including leopards, whitetips & threshers. To top it off, some superb MUCK DIVING with an extensive array of captivating critters. And, the frosting on the cake –a profusion of SCHOOLING HAMMERHEADS at Layang-Layang.
While there is some pleasant diving along the east coast of the Malay peninsula, Malaysia's world-class diving is done in the waters around the magical island of Borneo.
Borneo, the third-largest island in the world, is split between 3 nations, with roughly half of it belonging to Malaysia. Kalimantan on the east of the island, belongs to Indonesia; Sabah and Sarawak are Malaysian states, which lie on the west side of the island of Borneo; while a tiny corner of the island is independent of the two larger powers, remaining the sultanate of Brunei.
This part of the diving world is blessed with nearly untouched coral reefs but with less infrastructure than you find in Indonesia & the Philippines, making access to the diving a bit more challenging. There's a lack of liveaboards serving this area, so most of what we recommend is land-based diving where you have day-boat access to the sites.
The areas you'll want to explore are located around the islands of Sipadan, Layang-Layang, Langkawi, Mabul and Kapalai.
JOURNEY INTO THE JUNGLE
Don't forget that land excursions here are also exciting and heartwarming .... especially if you can take the time to visit an Orang Utan rehabilitation center where dedicated professionals help to reintroduce to the forest animals whose mothers were destroyed by poachers or who had been held captive in people's homes.
This emotionally-charged experience is highly recommended.
CHOOSE FROM 2 MALAYSIA OPTIONS OR INCLUDE BOTH
Gorgonians and sponges grow to amazing sizes and you'll find giant groupers, tuna, surgeonfish and jacks milling around them .... and you'll explore overhangs, caves and crevices.
In the lagoon, you can find beautiful hard corals – including some great specimens of brain coral. which attract smaller fish.
In spite of the fact that Mabul and Kapalai are very near to Sipadan, the diving you'll find at these islands is quite another world. With their sloping shelves carpeted with runoff from tropical rain and rivers, with coral rubble and grass seabeds, here you get some of the ultimate of "muck".
It's a world of weird and wonderful. Huge frog fish, mandarin fish, seahorses, ghost pipefish, countless nudibranchs, snake eels, and scorpion fish galore. If you love critters, you'll adore Mabul and Kapalai ....
See both our liveaboard & land-based diving sections for our recommended operators in this region.
Macro photographers, don't despair. The coral gardens house plenty of photogenic creatures for your taste, too. Lankayan Island is all about lovely corals, abundant reef fish, really nice macro opportunities ... plus some good wrecks.
The Malay Peninsula is the world's largest peninsula. Singapore occupies the southen tip & the Thai border is at the north. Malaysia has a western maritime border with Indonesia’s Sumatra Island while to the east lies Borneo, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei. The islands of Sipadan, Kapalai & Mabul, which offer exceptional diving, are just off the eastern coast of Borneo, in the Celebes Sea, not far from Indonesia's north Sulawesi. Layang-Layang, with its intriguing population of hammerheads, lies northwest of Borneo.