Asia is famous for its diverse diving spots in the world, which are rich in exotic marine life and haunting wrecks that add to any diver’s excitement. This in-depth dive guide features some of the best diving locations in Asia and what you can expect from these destinations.
1. Layang Layang
Also referred to as Swallow’s Reef, Layang Layang is an atoll located about 300 kilometers on the north-west coast of Kota Kinabalu. It is a fine dive destination that boasts of its pristine waters and a ring of reefs forming a serene lagoon. Layang Layang has stunning coral walls that plunge deep into the sea floor, while different varieties of sea creatures including manta rays, tuna, hawksbill turtles, and barracuda swim around the open ocean nearby the island.
The best time of the year to go to Layang Layang is from March through August, and dive spots in this area are closed during the monsoon season. If you want to witness the hammerhead sharks’ mating season, then you should consider going to the island in April or May.
2. Maratua Island
This large island circles a part of the lagoon, while the rest is home to breathtaking reef with a thriving marine life. Moreover, you will witness a strong tidal flow as the lagoon drains through the the channel, which makes it the island’s finest attraction.
At Marantua Island, you can find a group of stunning reef fish such as the snapper, jacks, white tip reef sharks, spanish mackerel, barracuda, surgeonfish, scalloped hammerhead and dogtooth tuna. The reefs also feature a number of hard and soft corals, as well as the giant clam and other varieties of crustaceans. The diving spots in Maratua are open any time of the year, but the ideal months to visit are between March and October or the dry season in the island.
3. Sipadan Island
Most divers consider Sipadan Island as one of the finest dive sites in Borneo because of its picturesque reefs, biodiversity, and abundant marine life. The island is located in the Celebes Sea, which it just off to Borneo. An easy way to access Sipadan is from Semporna, a town that lies 35 kilometers from the northern coast of the island.
What’s spectacular about Sipadan is its wide collection of exotic species of fish including triggerfish, gobies, morays, angelfish, barracuda and sharks. There are also plenty of sea turtles that frequent the island’s crystal clear waters. Other marine creatures that you can discover at Sipadan are manta rays, hammerhead sharks and white sharks. Since the island is known for its biodiversity, you can expect to find more than 3, 000 fish species and fascinating coral species to enhance your overall diving experience. Although visibility of about 20 meters is possible no matter what time of the year, the dry season is the best time to visit the island because visibility can go up to 50 meters.
Experienced and novice divers visit Coron Island, in the Philippines, not only for its remarkable sea life, but also for its infamous wrecks. These wrecks that are found deep into the waters of Coron are still intact, and diving towards these historic vessels that sank in 1944.
Aside from the remarkable underwater museum that you can find in the island, it is also an exquisite diving spot where you can find the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park. This marine sanctuary spans 100, 000 hectares, and it is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, divers can witness a massive array of well-preserved corals, barrel sponges and various species of fish. Large schools of barracudas and jacks are found in the island, as well as different types of sharks such as Leopard, Guitar, and Hammerhead. Since Tubbataha diving is quite out of the way, diving is usually done from liveaboards from March to June or the dry season. Visiting the reef during these months offer maximum visibility of at least 50 meters.
5. Hin Muang and Hin Daeng
These sea-mounts are situated in Thailand, particularly in Ko Lanta and right out in the vast Andaman Sea. Known as the deepest dive sites in Thailand, these areas plunge to about 50 to 70 meters underwater where you can see a breathtaking pelagic life such as Whalesharks and Manta Rays. Other types of marine life you can find in these dive sites are Mackerel, Rainbow Runner, Trevally, Tuna, and a few other varieties of smaller reef fish. Moreover, these spots are abundant in Morays, Snapper, Batfish, Chevron, and Yellowtail Barracuda.
Hin Daeng is much larger than Hin Muang, and the latter is completely submerged underwater with its top covered with anemone. Although Hin Daeng may be an easier spot to dive and provides more protection than Hin Muang, both of these sites are more suitable for experienced divers.
These are only some of the best dive spots in Asia that are worth exploring. With the fascinating marine life and numerous areas to discover in these diving destinations, it makes sense to include these locations in your itinerary for a memorable underwater experience.