By Lucy Grewcock
Not only are these dive sites three of the best in Malaysia, they’re up there with the world’s best.
Lying 300 kilometres north of Sabah, in the South China Sea, Layang Layang is one of the best places on the planet to see hammerhead sharks. This manmade island is no tropical paradise but beneath the surface, its relative isolation lends itself to some of Malaysia’s healthiest reefs and clearest waters. A magnet for marine life and the place for pelagic action, Layang Layang’s pristine environment teems with groupers, sweetlips, and snapper, and is home to resident barracuda, hammerheads and manta rays. Even rarer species, such as whale sharks, orcas and melon headed whales can be sighted here.
Rising 700 meters from a chasm in the seafloor, this gem of an island is a magnet for marine life. Located in the Celebes Sea, Sipadan is one of the best places in Malaysia to encounter breeding hawksbill and green turtles and is famous for its spectacular reefs and 600-metre wall dives, where schools of barracuda and mackerel swarm over the drop-offs. Under strict conservation controls, staying overnight on the island itself is prohibited, so visitors tend to sleep on nearby Mabul island, or in Semporna (Sabah) and enjoy boat dives around the island.
This jungle-clad, mountainous island, located off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is surrounded by coral reefs that are seething with underwater activity. Well known for its spectacular hard corals and stunning sea fans, Tioman’s appeal also lies in its diversity of dive sites, abundance of dive schools and suitability for all levels of diver. Explore underwater labyrinths and coral-encrusted wrecks, soar over kaleidoscope reefs and volcanic pinnacles, chill-out in sheltered bays and get swept along in dramatic drift dives. Expect to see everything from puffer fish and napoleon wrasse to groupers and green turtles.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website
Lucy Grewcock is a freelance writer based in Brighton, UK. Specialising in adventure travel, she has kayaked, skied, trekked and surfed her way around the planet, has led expeditions in the Arctic and the Amazon. Her work has appeared in The Independent on Sunday, The Mail on Sunday, Wanderlust and ABTA Magazine. In 2011, Lucy won the Guardian newspaper’s Adventure Travel Writing competition. She blogs at www.lucy-grewcock.blogspot.co.uk and tweets @lucygrewcock.