If you love Scuba, nothing really compares to Southeast Asia. In Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines it’s literally like Finding Nemo down there! Remember to do your Scuba diving certification and always have safety in mind. Never scuba dive alone, but of course half the fun is sharing that amazing experience. My favourite places to see marine life are El Nido (Philippines) and the Similan Islands (Thailand). Here’s a list of the best Southeast Asia diving spots….
Best Southeast Asia Diving Spots
Similan Islands, Thailand
Similan Islands is a National Marine Park which makes it absolute heaven to dive in. The park is only open during the dive season (Late October to early May) and gives you the best chances of spotting manta rays and whale sharks.
Beginners should not feel overwhelmed by the marine animals that are on offer. But feel excited to dive here! On the west coast of the island, although a little more challenging, divers will be able to experience giant granite boulders, fan corals and incredible submarine rock formations.
If you’re wanting to get into diving, then this is an ideal spot! I’ll be honest the place isn’t the easiest to get to. It’s a granite island about 100km north-west of Phuket. However, nothing good comes easy!
El Nido, Philippines
Surprisingly, El Nido isn’t a ubiquitous diving spot in Southeast Asia. For anyone who has dived here, you’ll understand why I say surprisingly.
The main dive spots are separated up quite close, and this makes it extremely accessible. Helicopter Reef and Twin Rocks are famous dive spots in the area and make for an exceptional diving experience.
Obviously, Helicopter Reef focuses on the main reef. You will stay relatively shallow, so you’re able to spot most of the different fishes. One of the big attractions of diving is being able to see the abundance of remarkable marine life. At Helicopter Reef you’ll probably find; lionfish, electric clams, trumpet fish and blue spotted stingrays. And the reason why I have focussed on Helicopter Reef is because it’s the best dive site you’ll hit at El Nido.
El Nido is hands down one of the best Southeast Asia diving destinations.
Gili Air, North Lombok
Easily one of the most beautiful places to dive in the world, Gili Air offers a diver a brilliant experience down under. It is the second smallest of the Gili Islands and very close to Lombok. The waters here are crystal clear, very warm and offer a wide variety of sea life with something for everybody. Why a lot of divers enjoy coming here is that diving schools say there is a 95% chance of turtles on most dive sites – practically guaranteeing you’ll see on!
Personally, this was one of my favourite places to dive in the world! The marine life on offer, the corals, the clear ocean water, it all added to one of the best diving experiences I have ever had.
Belongas Bay, South Lombok
Staying in the Lombok region, scuba diving in the Belongas Bay offers arguably the most adrenaline-filled dives you can experience.
One of my favourite dive sites, “The Magnet” is famous for its hammerhead shark sightings. Hammerhands have a tendency to school around the area between the end of June until early November. Obviously, this makes diving here, one of those once in a lifetime experiences. Whereas can you see hammerheads schooling so easily?
The area is one of only three places in the world where you’ll be able to see Scalloped Hammerhead sharks and the Great Hammerhead sharks in the same location. The other two being Costa Rica and the Philippines).
Another dive site in the region is “The Cathedral.” Here you will see sightings of schooling barracudas, tunas and other pelagic life is fairly regular.
In Belongas Bay, you’ll find an unspoiled underwater paradise with pristine reefs, an intact environment, and impressive diving with vast marine diversity!
Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Often hailed as one of the best dive sites in the world, Sipadan Island will give you an authentic experience of life in the deep. If you haven’t recognised the name, the island is famous for barracuda vortexes and whirling jackfish.
One of the primary reasons why the island has incredible marine life and fantastic dive sites is because it sits on an extinct undersea volcano. The island is also surrounded by 1,900ft deep canyons – all of which combined to make the area an incredibly rich marine habitat.
Although divers and travellers dive here all your round, the best months are from April to December. This is where animals come in the thousands, mainly to breed, which will allow you to see some awesome stuff. However, if you are a beginner, do be careful. The geographical location of the island does make it a mid to advanced level dive. Expect some strong current and drifts during your dive.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
If anyone has ever dived in Indonesia, then you will know that dives are usually full of drift currents. Therefore if you are thinking of coming to Raja Ampat, be aware that some dive sites are not recommended for beginners. Nevertheless, the conditions to dive are so good that you can dive here all year round.
The islands are famed for their exceptional biodiversity, which as you can imagine, makes for great dives. Sightings of wobbegong sharks, whitetip reef sharks, manta rays, batfish and large schools of tuna and mackerels are frequent. In particular, shark sightings!
If the vast array of different marine life wasn’t enough to make you want to come and dive here at all costs. Raja Ampat will have you marvelling at the exceptional underwater landscapes of the reefs and corals.
Lang Tengah, Malaysia
Known as the tropical crown jewel of Malaysia’s east coast. Lang Tengah boasts 13 unique dive spots. The areas are known for their diverse marine life, multi-coloured corals and fantastic rock formations.
While diving here, the most common marine life you will dive alongside are; bamboo sharks, whitetip sharks, thresher sharks, glass sweepers, wrasses, butterflyfish and snappers. So, as you can see, a very long list of ‘Common’ marine life. This is why the area is known for having such an exceptional array of biodiversity. My favourite part of diving here is that there are so many different sharks! I’m obsessed about diving with sharks, so being able to dive with so many makes me super excited.
Further Reading on Southeast Asia Diving
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