Peninsular Malaysia has a plethora of dive sites. These are spread out mostly up and down the east coast, but Langkawi on the west coast also features a few. Whatever your dive experience, you are sure to enjoy the warm, equatorial waters of Peninsular Malaysia.
On the east coast, where diving is spectacular from May to October, Tioman Island, Redang Island and the Perhentians delight with clear waters and abundant sea life. The clear calm waters are a good place to take an open water course. Experts won’t be bored either as macro photography and night diving in the area are worthwhile. Venturing further afield from the major islands, smaller resort islands, like Lang Tengah and Tenggol Island, offer bigger marine life and more challenging dives in unprotected waters.
On the other side of the peninsula, Malaysia’s coastline is more urbanized. Due to the fact that this is technically the Malacca Strait, most of the west coast doesn’t offer much diving. However, far north along the Thai border, Langkawi has a range of dive shops which make trips to nearby Pulau Payar Marine Park. Here, divers have the chance to explore reefs and wrecks with a good chance of spotting pelagic fish species such as barracuda, jacks and reef sharks.
While Peninsular Malaysia’s dive sites may not shine as bright as Malaysian Borneo’s, its uncrowded waters and easy diving make the area perfect for learning new SCUBA skills and enjoying the underwater world with gorgeous above-water surrounds.
WHAT TO SEE
Peninsular Malaysia’s marine life is as varied as its landscapes. Depending on the current, divers may be fascinated with anything from the smallest nudibranchs to massive whales.
The Perhentians with its lofty pinnacles and deep wrecks is home to a plethora of colorful coral and tropical fish as well as schools of barracuda, snapper and jack. There’s also the occasional bamboo shark hiding inside a sunken ship.
Further south, Redang is home to a gorgeous coral garden, often called one of the world’s most complete. Here divers can gaze at hard and soft corals, anemones, sponges and if lucky, manta rays and whales.
Tioman Island, near the border of Singapore, is home to beautiful coral and boulder formations, among which live schools of barracuda, mackerel and stingrays.
Whatever the location, peninsular Malaysia is sure to keep both beginners and experts on their toes with full log book pages at the end of the day.
Peninsular Malaysia, also known as West Malaysia, is a part of the Malay Peninsula, bordering Thailand to the south and Singapore to the north. The equatorial climate includes two monsoon seasons. From May to October, the southwest monsoon brings wet weather to Malaysia’s west coast. The rain can be particularly heavy during September and October. November to March is the northeast monsoon which is associated with torrential rains on the east coast. Water temperatures vary between 73-86°F (23-30℃) while air temperatures range from 77-86°F (25-30℃).
After being occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the Japanese, Peninsular Malaysia gained independence in 1957. Today, the state has sizable populations of Malays, Chinese and Indians. The dominant religion is Islam followed by Buddhism.
Between the east coast, west coast and islands dotted around the peninsula, West Malaysia offers divers a wide range of options. Admittedly, most of the area’s best sites are on the east coast of the peninsular where the open sea stretches towards the Philippines. The west coast is mostly protected by the Malacca strait, but the northern island of Langkawi is rich in marine life. Whichever side of the peninsula you choose, you are sure have many options for accommodation, from five-star hotels to primitive bungalows.
From May to October, divers flock to the east coast. From backpackers to Singaporeans on long weekend holidays, dive sites can get crowded during this time. The shoulder season (April and late October) offers some relief, but once the northeast monsoon hits from November to March, the east coast all but shuts down. During these months, Langkawi on the west coast is your only option for diving in Peninsular Malaysia.
While the diving is great, you are sure to enjoy the above water activities in peninsular Malaysia a s well. After all, these are some of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Island activities include snorkelling along shore reefs, participating in sea turtle conservation projects, hiking inside tropical rainforests and sailing through mangroves while bird watching.
Inland activities are widely varied from treks through untouched jungles to food tours around busy Kuala Lumpur. The Cameron Highlands, with its rolling tea fields, offer visitors a break from Malaysia’s tropical heat. Staying in colonial Penang or Malacca gives tourists unique historical insight into Malaysia’s troubled past.
Diving may be the focal point of your vacation, but a day relaxing on a pristine, white sand beach with a tropical drink in hand is sure to bring a smile to your face.