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Best Diving Spots

There are a multitude of beautiful dive sites in Malaysia to explore, and to create a definitive list is as challenging as exploring the entire ocean itself. However some locations are a staple of the seasoned diver in Malaysia, and it would be an injustice not to share them.

Sipadan is an 'untouched piece of art' and recognised not just as the pinnacle of Malaysia sea exploration but also as one of the most desirable dive destinations in the world. An hour's boat ride from the town of Semporna will lead you into crystal clear waters that teem with an array of marine life that make the ocean akin to a nature documentary. Swarming schools of brightly coloured fish dart away to avoid white tipped sharks that sashay around them. Should a large shadow blot out the sunlight, it is likely the docile whale shark, endangered and enormous, is coasting through the waters of this delicately balanced biodiversity.

Pulau Perhentian is an hour boat ride from the east coast of Malaysia and was once a pit stop for early traders between the Malay Sultanates and Bangkok. Now it serves as a destination in its own right for avid divers. It contains such delights as Shark Point, Teluk Pauh and Tanjung Basi, and these popular spots are the haven of snokellers. The island also has a Proferssional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) 5-star Instructor Development Centre and Dive Resort.

The tropical waters of Tioman are slightly cooler than usual for Malaysian waters, owing to three freshwater rivers running down from the mountains. This will not stop the blood pumping with excitement though, as the technicolor undersea world is a rainbow of fish and fauna. From Malaysia, boats travel from the Mersing Jetty in Johor and the Tanjung Gemok Jetty in Pahang to the island, which harbours soft-shelled turtles and the Tioman walking-catfish - both unique to its environs.

The Alice Channel - which is about 100 metres deep - connects Sipadan Island to Mataking Island. Mataking is a dive site that has the novelty of an Underwater Post Office - in 2006 a wooden cargo ship was sunk to become an artificial reef for tropical fish and a deposit for the postcards (wrapped in waterproof bag, of course) of adveenturous divers wanting to tell their loved ones 'Fish you were here! '

The calm lagoon of Layang Layang Island is a one hour flight north of Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu. It offers a plunging wall of coral that drops 2,000 metres and an ocean peppered with turtles, manta rays, tuna and elongated barracuda. In April and May, divers clamour to see the distinctively featured hammerhead sharks that are in abundance during the mating season.

The pristine realms of Puala Redang can be reached with direct flights from Subang Airport that arrive at this coral reef retreat, with lapping waves frequented by snorkelers, divers, and by the locally nesting turtles searching for food in the clear blue sea surrounding their home.

These jaw-dropping dive sites are truly spectacular and real gems of the Malaysian ocean, but as breathtaking as they are, one shouldn't forget to take breath. You are underwater, after all.

Source: I&P Living leisure



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