Malaysia has many fascinating dive locations. The beautiful islands off the east coast of Peninsular
Malaysia with their white sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and lush tropical jungle foliage are
popular for an affordable getaway. The dive season here extends during the dry season from April to
October when visibility is at its best. Most dive resorts off the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia close
during the yearly monsoon season between November and March.
The best dive sites in Malaysia can be found in the southeastern region of Sabah where diving is conducted year round. Off the coast of Sabah lie the neighbouring islands of Layang Layang, Lankayan, Mabul, Kapalai, Pom Pom, Mataking and Sipadan, the crown jewel of Malaysian diving. Any of these islands host world class diving however Sipadan is well and truly one of the most spectacular dive sites anywhere in the world. While accommodation no longer exists on Sipadan, guests can stay at the nearby islands of Kapalai and Mabul.
Sabah is also a haven for nature lovers with Kinabalu National Park an UNESCO world heritage site famous for bird watching and a huge range of endemic plant species. Visit the local wildlife parks such as Sepilok Nature Reserve and meet the prized Orang-utans of Borneo. Other exotic wildlife thrives along the shores of the Kinabatangan River including the Asian Elephant, bizarre looking Proboscis Monkeys and the rare and endangered Sumatran Rhino.
Malaysia is located in the heart of South-East Asia and is comprised of two bodies of land featuring
coastal plains rising to hills and heavily forested mountains and a tropical archipelago of some of the
most picturesque islands on Earth.
Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia) shares a border with Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and the largest city.
The warm, clear waters of the South China Sea separates Peninsula Malaysia from East Malaysia (also known as Malaysian Borneo). Malaysian Borneo shares a land border with the small oil country of Brunei and Indonesia (Kalimantan) and is comprised of the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.
Sabah is the Malaysian state located at the north-eastern tip of Borneo and is considered to be one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet. Surrounded by the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu and Celebes Seas on the east, it is covered in lush rainforests with an unsurpassed collection of plants and animal species above and below the water. The city of Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah.
Malaysia has something for everyone. The multicultural society of Malays, Indians, Chinese and many
other ethnic groups living together in peace and harmony has made Malaysia a gastronomical
paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals.
Kuala Lumpur is a modern city with towering skyscrapers, diverse restaurants, shopping malls, stores and street-side stalls, nightlife and a range of hotel accommodation. Outside of the city you can explore the highlands, caves or the many tropical islands located off the peninsula where snorkelling and diving opportunities abound.
Malaysian Borneo is an ideal destination for divers wanting to combine their dive holiday with some unique topside activities. Borneo is richly blessed with natural diversity, unique cultures, fun adventure, beautiful beaches and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous taste buds. Apart from scuba diving and snorkelling, you could also:
- Forage amongst the markets, shops and restaurants of Kota Kinabalu
- Climb Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain at 4,095 metres
- Visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre at Sepilok and the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary at Labuk Bay
- Look for wildlife, flora and fauna along the Kinabatangan River, around Gomantong Cave and in the Danum Valley Conservation Area and see some ancient Kadazandusun burial sites
- Pay your respects to the fallen soldiers at Sandakan Memorial Park
- See the green and hawksbill turtles nesting and hatching at Turtle Island Park
Whitewater rafting, jungle trekking, birdwatching and wildlife encounters are popular activities.
Malaysia is hot and humid year round.
Malaysia experiences a hot, humid climate throughout the year. The average maximum daytime temperature is 30°C, whilst overnight temperatures may only drop as low as 21°C.
The best time to dive on the east coasts of Malaysia is during the dry season which generally runs from April to October. Although it can rain during anytime of the year, the dry season has less constant rain.
November to March marks the wet season on the east coasts, when the northeast monsoon is blowing, bringing stronger winds and more rain. Most beaches and accommodation on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia are closed during this period of the monsoon season. Borneo is less affected by the monsoon cycles, accommodation and diving is open year round with the exception of Layang Layang Resort which is only open between March and August.
Lower water levels may cause river transport to be more difficult during the dry season and some villages, longhouses and inland sights may be harder to reach.
The best time of year to visit the west coast, the lowlands or the highlands is from November to March which is their dry season.
The majority of the best diving destinations in Malaysia are located off the east coasts of Peninsula
Malaysia and Borneo.
The east coast of Peninsula Malaysia offers easy diving and healthy reefs in the calm, coastal waters of the many islands plus more advanced diving deeper offshore with drifts, pinnacles and even some shipwrecks to explore.
Sabah has been voted one of the world’s top diving locations. The island of Sipadan, off the east coast of Sabah, was endorsed as one of the top dive spots by world-renowned diving legend, Jacques Cousteau. From macro life to pelagics, wreck diving to wall diving, coral gardens teeming with a rich diversity of corals and fish, underwater caves with sleepy sharks and a cavern where turtles go to die - the diversity will amaze.
Layang Layang Island and Lankayan Island offer frontier diving if you're looking for somewhere different. Lankayan has seasonal whale shark sightings and Layang Layang offers some fabulous encounters with hammerheads and other pelagics.
Malaysia is situated in the heart of South-East Asia and is composed of Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north coast of the island of Borneo which is the world’s third largest island. The state of Sabah sits on the north western tip of Malaysian Borneo and it’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, is the gateway to a tropical paradise of natural wonders, scenic beauty and a diversity of culture. The international country code for Malaysia is 606. Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Australian passport holders do not require a visa for social visits of up to 3 months. Other passport holders please contact the appropriate authorities to check current visa requirements.
The currency of Malaysia is the Ringgit (MYR), often referred to as the Malaysian Dollar. Money can be exchanged at most hotels, banks and the airport. Major credit cards are accepted at hotels, resorts and most shops. Please be aware that it may be difficult to exchange foreign currencies outside the main tourist centres.
1 AUD = approximately 3.20 MYR (June 2017)
Borneo has it all; from macro life to pelagics, wreck diving to wall diving, coral gardens teeming with a rich diversity of fish life and underwater caves. Some 3,000 species of marine creatures were first found and classified while diving fabulous sites in Malaysia around Sipadan and Layang-Layang. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.