Top Diving Destinations in Malaysia

Sea-turtle-fish-at SipadanTop Diving Destinations in Malaysia 

Recently I was contacted by the team over at Sipadan Island diving website about helping to spread the word about diving there. Sipadan is a tiny island just off the coast the Malaysian state of Sabah, which is situated on large island of Borneo.

Sipadan is quite famous among divers in Asia because the sea just offshore plunges to extremely deep depths, giving the island deep, deep walls stretching down into deep blue, well beyond depths that divers can access. For divers that means great wall diving, plenty of sharks and huge schools of fish. In addition, Sipadan’s stunning walls are full of turtles. They are so prolific that it would be hard to do a dive at Sipadan without seeing at least one turtle en route.

I’ve dived at Sipadan Island as well as nearby Mabul Island. The three days of diving I did there count as some of my best diving ever. At Sipadan I saw large groups of sharks, turtles, beautiful walls and even prettier shallow coral reefs atop the walls. At Mabul I saw the most amazing macro sea life ever, including many species I’d been dying to see for years. It was awesome!

So, since I have dived there myself and can highly recommend it, I was perfectly happy to help the team talk about Sipadan diving. Without further ado, then, below, find more info about the various dive sites at Borneo Island, Malaysia, written by one of the Sipadan team.

Maybe this will inspire you to visit!

Cheers, Lash


The islands of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai are located in the Celebes Sea on the eastern coasts of Sabah State, Borneo Island in Eastern Malaysia. While Sipadan is famous for its large pristine corals, huge turtles, barracuda tornadoes and the infamous Sipadan cave, Kapalai and Mabul Islands have a number of great macro dive sites acting like a nursery of rare marine spcies to discover that will make for a well-rounded trip with a great variety of diving.

Diving in Sipadan

In an effort to conserve the diving haven that is Sipadan Island, the tiny island has been closed as an overnight tourist destination since 2004, forcing the Sipadan dive resorts to relocate to the nearby island of Pulau Mabul.

Luckily for divers, a quota permit has been put in place and 120 tourists are still able to visit Sipadan everyday while staying at nearby on Pulau Mabul, Pulau Kapalai and also Pulau Mataking which are only a short 15 minute journey from the marvels of Sipadan.


Diving Mabul Island

Mabul is a top choice for many scuba divers visiting Sipadan as it is only a 15-minute boat ride away from the world-famous island.

Mabul offers more than 20 dive sites that are well-worth exploring and of course the opportunity to stay overnight which is no longer an option on Sipadan Island.

There also some man-made underwater structures to help the coral grow and there you’ll find all sorts of different nudibranchs and ghost pipefish to add to your log book.

Guests are able to choose from a surprisingly wide variety of accommodation options on this remote island, from simple backpackers and longhouses over-the-water to medium range chalets located right on the beach. There are also several luxurious options with the Maldives-style water bungalows located right out over crystal clear water is sure to put you in holiday-mode.

Most of the accommodation packages include diving as well as unlimited self-dive shore diving, full board and transfers to the local airport.

Kapalai-Dive-Site-MapDiving in Kapalai

Around the sandy bottom that surrounds the resort you’ll find some sunken boats that have become key locations for spotting frogfish, giant groupers and scorpion leaf fish and flamboyant cuttlefish.

Kapalai resort is a luxury water village built on stilts with magnificent views of the stunning blue water below. Note that the Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort is very popular with Chinese tourists.

Diving in Mataking Island

Mataking combines both Sipadan and Mabul underwater worlds and is a great base for those who want to relax in a luxury private island resort while also being able to dive at Sipadan.

Divers are spoilt for choice with the 20 dive sites available around at Mataking’s and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park fringing reefs. Expect to see large pelagics and unique macro marine fauna at these exclusive diving locations. Divers can also have fun using the underwater post box.

The white sandy beach  of Mataking is split in 2 islets which adds to this this stunning destination and is sure to add that little bit extra to your diving holiday.

Be sure to take an underwater camera and allow enough time to really explore all the hidden areas of these fantastic dive sites.

Layang-Layang-Dive-Site-MapDiving in Layang Layang

Layang Layang is in the South China Sea, north of Sabah in the Spratly islands and it’s island resort is accessible by flight.

It is one of the world’s top diving destination with common sightings of Hammerhead sharks, especially during the mating season in May.

Diving in Lankayan

Lankayan is located near Sandakan and accessible via a 90 minutes speed boat ride. It is famous for it’s turtle hatchery and offers superb diving.

Diving in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah and also it is far from being as spectacular as Sipadanor as rich as Mabul, there is fun diving available at islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.


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