Malaysia’s spectacular tropical reefs boast of encounters with unique macro animals and large pelagic within a single destination. Only a handful of scuba diving sites in the world can offer both these sights in one scuba diving holiday. Macro animal life is scarce in areas where larger predators are present for obvious reasons.
Malaysia is fast becoming one of the leading dive destinations of the world with the richest marine environment in the Indo-Pacific Basin. Imagine warm clear waters, colourful underwater reefs and fascinating aquatic life forms. Imagine stunning, sheer walls and large, graceful pelagic. Imagine breathtaking beaches of powdery soft sand. These captivating sights will be yours to enjoy in the abundance of dive sites in Malaysia. The incredible bio-diversity of marine life coupled with beautiful islands with white sandy beaches and clear warm waters keep the divers coming back for more. From schooling hammerhead sharks, huge schools of barracudas and various turtles to the bizarre frogfish or ghost pipefish, there is always something to fascinate the diver.
In Malaysia, the coral reef ecosystem is reported to support aquatic organism numbering more than 50 genera of coral and more than 200 species of fish. Each time a marine bio-diversity survey is conducted in the Malaysian tropical sea, the species list increases. Dive centres in Malaysia are well equipped and are certified by relevant agencies for maintaining their standards of safety and professionalism.
Scuba diving courses endorsed by certifying agencies like PADI, NAUI, SSI and BSAC. Some of the courses available include the initial ‘Openwater Course’, ‘Diving Instructor Course’ or even a ‘Re-breather Course’. Upon completion of your scuba course, you can be outfitted with the latest scuba equipment of most international brands available from dive centres in Malaysia.
Almost All the island in Malaysia cater for divers of all level of experience – be it easy shore diving to advance wreck diving or technical diving. Operators engaged with technical diving are well equipped with portable emergency oxygen kits, special tank refilling equipment and other necessary facilities. Top dive sites around Malaysia include diving along gentle sloping reefs, submerge reefs, coral blocks, wall dives, deep dives, drift dives and wreck dives. Dive operators, like any other around the world, will insist on seeing your certification for the type of diving that you wish to do and to undergo a check-out dive. Pulau Redang offers vast coral gardens of unimaginable variety. Its pristine beaches and clear visibility make it a favourites for all divers.
Pulau Tioman, has excellent wrecks and reefs to explore by boat or from shore. Pulau Perhentian, with its sapphire waters, soft white sand, and trendy lifestyle, offers endless varieties of fish of all colours and sizes. Pulau Sipadan is the ultimate diving destination with amazing sights of turtles, reef sharks, and a 680-metre deep drop-off. Nearby Mabul attracts keen naturalists and photographers with its wealth of macro life. In Miri, discover a thriving new destination that unveils reefs with a breathtaking marine life.
DIVE IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA
Peninsular Malaysia is a delightful holiday destination with something for everyone to enjoy. Its diverse attractions range from its potpourri of cultures, relaxing hill retreats, ancient rainforests to irresistible cuisine.
Kuala Lumpur, its capital, is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with the world’s tallest twin towers standing at a height of 452 metres. The peninsula’s long coastline and coral-fringed islands, with the Straits of Malacca to the west and South China Sea to the east, give rise to a large number of beaches. Enjoy a holiday at world-renowned resort destinations such as Langkawi, Redang, Tioman and Pangkor or experience unique culture and relish mouth-watering food in Penang. Malacca, to the south of the peninsula’s history. Taman Negara or the countries premier national park beckons with a marvelous range of natural wonders. The charming east coast states of Terengganu and Pahang offer a wealth of traditional attractions. Peninsular Malaysia awaits with a myriad of excitements.
DIVE IN EAST MALAYSIA
The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo are two intriguing destinations with an abundance of natural and cultural treasures.
The multitude of tribal and ethnic groups provide a showcase of divers cultures and traditions that blend together in harmony. In Sabah, don’t miss an encounter with the famous Orang Utan, or ‘Man of the Jungle’. Another unforgettable adventure for visitors is climbing the 4,095.2m Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. The capital, Kota Kinabalu, is a laid-back port that still retains its old-world charm. Not far away is the island of Labuan, a federally-administrated offshore financial centre. This duty-free shopping destination also boasts several war memorials. Other national parks in the state offer a vast diversity of plant and animal life. The capital, Kuching, is famous for its colourful cultural performances, British colonial architecture and fascinating sightseeing attractions. Lapped by the waters of the South China Sea, as well as the Sulu and Celebes Seas, the islands and beaches in these two states make for pleasant getaways. Enjoy unforgettable holidays in Sabah and Sarawak.
Climate & Water Temperature
Malaysia has an equatorial climate with fairly uniform temperatures ranging from 32oC during the day to 22oC at night. Humidity is about 85% to 95%. Water temperature is 27 – 28oC and during the dry months the temperature may rise to 31 – 31oC. Divers will not require thick wet suits. A wet suit between 1.5 to 3 millimeters is appropriate.
Best Times To Dive
- West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia : December – May
- East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia : March – October
The islands around Sabah & Sarawak are reasonably well-protected and can be dived all year round. However, water visibility is better during the months of April to August.
Dive Equipment Rental
Dive equipment is readily available for rent at almost all dive centers. But it would be wise to give prior notice, as sizes could be limited.
The following are contacts for recompression chambers in Malaysia.
- Labuan Naval Base : +6087-417 122
- Lumut Naval base : +605-6837090 / 166 / 164 / 168
- Kuantan Naval Base : +609-513 3333 / 557 2222
The coral reefs are constantly under threat from global changes and they must be conserve. This has led to the establishment of numerous marine protected areas around Malaysia. This marine protected areas will also encourage public understanding and awareness of the marine environment. The Malaysian Government has initiated efforts to manage these areas so that the usage of the reefs is sustainable. Within Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan, the waters surrounding 38 islands that are grouped into 5 Marine Parks are now protected and managed by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia. While the East Malaysia, Sabah’s land and sea areas are protected around Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga and Turtle Islands Park by Sabah Parks.
DO’S & DON’TS
Try to learn as much as you can about coral reefs and their inhabitants. Tell others about the fragility and value of coral reefs. Let’s all be responsible for conserving our coral reefs.
Observing Proper Reef Etiquette
Coral reefs are home to many beautiful, fascinating creatures. Snorkeling or diving is a great way to explore this spectacular undersea world but must be done carefully as reefs are very fragile and easily damaged. Underwater animals will try to evade your touch, so please respect this rule. There is nothing to gain from touching marine life. This apply to turtles, eels, rays and other animals that may appear within reach. Often, animal attacks result out of fear or self-defense when they perceive a threat by humans.
Avoid Touching The Coral
A single kick can break coral and destroy years of growth. Even a light touch can rub off the coral’s protective mucus covering, leaving it vulnerable to infection and disease.
- Never stand on coral.
- Ensure that your body and fins do not touch the reef.
- Avoid fining close to the sea bed as his kicks up silt that can smother the coral.
- Scuba divers should maintain neutral buoyancy and secure gauges/octopus rigs so that they do not drag on the reef.
Avoid Harassing Reef Life
Reef animals are easily stressed so please be mindful about this. Remember, you are the guest. Harassing animals can disrupt feeding or mating patterns. In the case of turtles, it can drive them away from a dive site altogether, depriving other divers of the pleasure of seeing them.
Avoid Collecting Souvenir
Even dead corals play an important role in the reef eco-system and should not be taken.
Besides spoiling the beautiful scenery, litter can endanger the lives of marine animals. Many turtles has suffocated to death from empty plastic bags. Cans, bottles and Styrofoam take decades or even centuries to degrade in their environment. Throw litter in a bin or take it back with you after a dive trip.
Avoid Anchoring On The Reef
Anchors smash coral, damaging large areas of the reef. Ensure that your boat uses a mooring buoy instead.
Despite all precautions, accidents do happen in all water sports. In diving, the cost of medical treatment, particularly if it is an emergency, is very high. Thus, take up dive insurance which is not expensive at all.
Coral reefs are home to many beautiful and fascinating creatures. Snorkeling or diving are great ways to explore this spectacular undersea world but must be done carefully as reefs are very fragile and easily damaged. You too can do your part by observing basic rules when diving. Firstly, do not touch, break off or scrape coral reefs. The thin membranes covering these animals (yes, that is what they are) ensure their survival. It is highly recommended to keep your self-pressure gauges secured onto or strapped within your BCD. Having them dangle below you whilst diving may pose a hazard to corals. Secondly, check and maintain positive buoyancy throughout your dive in order to prevent snagging or brushing against the corals. Even the flapping of fins poses a threat that often goes unnoticed by divers themselves.
Please observe these rules and report suspected abuse to the nearest marine park officials.
Marine Parks in Malaysian waters preserve and protect the prolific underwater ecosystem for the enjoyment of all. The most well preserve Marine Parks in Malaysia is the islands of Terengganu. All the island in Terengganu are gazette as a Marine Parks (Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Redang, Pulau Bidong, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Tenggol and others small island in Terengganu).
Malaysia is situated at the epicentre of the world’s coral diversity. The extensive coral reefs found off the country’s coastline teem with a staggering variety of fascinating marine life. They are arguably among the richest environments on earth, rivalling the tropical rainforests in diversity. Coral reefs are vital breeding as well as feeding grounds and provide sanctuary for over 4,000 species of fish. Uniquely exquisite, they are well-protected and preserved in numerous marine parks located throughout the country. Dive into our waters and explore the hidden depths, which abound with wondrous underwater gems. The multihued and vibrant colours of the reef as well as its inhabitants – some beautiful, others bizarre have never failed to fascinate.
Permitted activities that are encourage in Marine Parks are those which do not destroy the coral reef environment. These activities will expose the visitor to the beauty and wonder of the underwater world. Some of these activities are:
- SCUBA Diving.
- Underwater Photography.
- Observation and appreciation of aquatic flora and fauna.
- Non-Motorised boating e.g. sailing, kayaking.
- Fish Feeding.
- Hill or nature walks on the islands.
Under the Fisheries Act 1985, all activities that destroy and damage coral reefs and marine ecosystems are prohibited and are an offence under the law. Among them are:
- Fishing or killing fish.
- Spear fishing or sling fishing.
- Collecting Coral, shells and other marine organisms.
- Collecting sand, dead coral and dead shells.
- Polluting and littering.
- Anchoring on reefs.
- Building or erecting any type of structure on the water.
Marine Park centres operate as a base for educational and enforcement efforts. Visitors can obtain information about coral reefs and the marine environment at these designated centres.
Visitors to the Marine Parks will be required to pay conservation charges:
- RM5.00 /adult
- RM2.50 /children
Mean annual temperature is between 21oC and 33oC and the water temperature is around 25oC. The dry season for islands on the west coast of the Peninsula is from November to march. The islands on the east coast experience occasional torrential showers between November to February. However, selected established resorts continue to operate during this season.
In most places, car, motorcycles or bicycles can be hired to move around. For foreigners, an international driving license is required. Certain islands have no paved roads and offer boat rides as the main mode of transport.
Before embarking on the island trip, visitors are advised to make prior financial arrangements on the mainland. However, well-developed islands such as Langkawi and Pangkor have banks. Foreign currency can be changed at selected resorts, banks and airports.
Most islands have clinics which operate from 8:15am to 4:45pm. Selected resorts have resident doctors.