Malaysia is a southeast Asian country popular among travellers, especially backpackers. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is sleek and modern but many parts of the countryside are still rustic and rural.

Malaysia, especially Malaysian Borneo, is also incredibly popular for animal enthusiasts and those interested in eco travel. Not only is the country home to elephants, and orangutans, but it’s also home to some pretty incredible marine life as well. Scuba diving in Malaysia is an absolute must.

Scuba diving in Malaysia is divided into two areas; peninsular Malaysia, and Malaysian Borneo. Both areas offer incredible diving opportunities that will be discussed in this article. Each site will be identified as being either in peninsula Malaysia, or Borneo, to help avoid any confusion.

Remember, while there are many dive sites in the county this guide will focus only on the top ‘must-see’ spots. With that being said, be sure to inquire in other areas around the country about the local scuba diving. You never know what you may find.

Table of Contents

NOTE: The locations on this list are indeed the best in the country, but are not ranked from 1-7. The list is random, in order of when I arrived at each. Number 7 might be just as good as number 1. You decide.




Sipidan is a small island off the eastern coast of Malaysian Borneo that is known for its incredible diving. Not only is it some of the best scuba diving in Malaysia, but it is some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Read our guide to Scuba Diving Sipadan



A small island also located off the coast of Malaysian Borneo, Kapalai is famous for its macro diving. It’s a favorite among underwater photographers. Kapalai also has easy, shallow, dive sites making it a great spot for novice divers looking to experience some sweet dives.



A small island located off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo, Mabul is world renowned for its muck diving. It’s an absolute must any critter lovers, and the close proximity to Mabul and Kapalai give it even more good options.



Layang Layang is part of an island complex located about 300km of the coast of Malaysian Borneo. It’s part of the Spratly Islands which are disputed territory between Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Philippines, and Vietnam. There is only one dive resort in the area, open between the months of March and August.



Lankayan island is a small island off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. It is one of the best known places for scuba diving in Malaysia and is known for its wrecks, macro diving, and whale shark sightings from the months of March to May. There is only one resort on the island, so it’s advised to book well in advance.



Tioman island is a small island off the coast of peninsular Malaysia. The island is part of the Mersing Marine park and surrounded by white coral reefs making it a popular destination for those interested in scuba diving in Malaysia. There are over 25 dive sites, with spots suitable for all levels.

Read our guide to Tioman Island Diving



There are two main islands: Palau Perhentian Besar, and Palau Perhentian Kecil. Kecil is the smaller of the two islands, known for its more budget friendly accommodations and therefore popular with backpackers. Besar is catered more towards family and luxury travel, and is home to a few resorts.


Malaysia is a country located in Southeast Asia that occupies parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. The total area is 330,803 km2 (127,724 sq mi) and a population of over 30 million.

Malaysia boasts splendid beaches and some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. Malaysia national parks offer a remarkable place for trekking, wildlife watching, cave exploration, and river rafting.

Capital city of Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur

Closest neighbors to Malaysia: Malaysia shares maritime borders with Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Best times to visit Malaysia: You could visit Malaysia all year-round for it has a tropical climate. But most of the region better travel there between March and early October to avoid worst of the rains.

How to get to Malaysia: If you’re from the US or Canada, it will take you 20 hours or more including stopover. It is also expensive if you take the quickest way. Another option is flying via East Asian countries.

Visa requirements for Malaysia: No visa is required for 90 days or less for tourism and business purposes, however, you will need a passport valid for at least 6 months.

Currency of Malaysia: The currency of Malaysia is Ringgit (RM) (MYR).

Official Language of Malaysia: The official language is Malaysian.

UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malaysia

There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia and 4 on their tentative list.

Cultural (2)

  • Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (2012)
  • Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca (2008)

Natural (2)

  • Gunung Mulu National Park (2000)
  • Kinabalu Park (2000)

Click HERE to see full descriptions of Malaysian UNESCO sites.


US passport holders do not need a visa, and are given 3 months stay on arrival. It is even possibel to extend your stay, thus why Mexico is a popular location for expats and digital nomads. 


Scuba diving is available in some places year round, such as Sipadan, while other destinations are only seasonal. April to October are the best months as November to March is monsoon season.

If you are most interested in seeing whale sharks, plan to come earlier in the season for the best chances. But, keep in mind, this is the most popular time so you will likely have to book in advance.

Malaysia is an incredible country with plenty to offer its travelers. But, while the land itself is spectacular, scuba divers will agree that some of the best of what this country can offer lies under the sea.


As for finding accommodations, it really depends on the specific location. Some locations like Cancun and the Tulum have unlimited options, while others there are much fewer.

For each individual location you can click the guides above for information on where to stay at each place, but if you need to find a hotel at the best rate in Mexico City or somewhere not listed above, CLICK HERE


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