Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia
Pulau Sipadan is perhaps one of the most famous diving destinations in Malaysia. Located on the island of Borneo in the Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah, it is regularly featured in the list of top dive spots in the world with many dive journals crediting it with a similar status. The only oceanic island in Malaysia, Sipadan rises 600m (2,000 feet) from seabed and has been formed over thousands of years by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano. Well known for its stunning underwater scenery and large numbers of marine species, it makes for a scenic diving experience. Although accessible all year round, the months between April and December make for the best months to visit it. In the past, the island has fallen prey to coral thieves and coral bleaching, with both the malwares been taken care of by the Malaysian government. A coastline thronged with stilted wooden and beach resorts, Sipadan is famous with both, luxury and budget travellers.
Similan Islands, Thailand
The Similan Islands offer one of the finest diving experiences that Thailand has to offer. A wing of the protected Simian islands national park, the Similans are a chain of nine tiny islands fringed with white sand beaches and surrounded by some of the area’s richest waters. Located about 50 kilometers west of Khao Lak, a series of tourist oriented villages, the granite islands are 128 square kilometres in area. Diving here is leisurely business, with boats and cruises stopping at the choicest sites and allowing divers to explore the biodiversity that hails here. A major attraction here is the sighting of the clown fish or popularly the ‘nemo’.
Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Tucked away in the southern most part of Myanmar, the Mergui Archipelago is a largely barren area comprising of about 800 islands. With huge boulders, caverns, tunnels and drop-offs, it is largely popular with exploratory divers. Also sought for its diverse marine life which comprises of sharks, manta rays and even the red lionfish, the islands here make for delightful diving experiences. Opened for tourists only in 1997, the islands here remain unexplored to much extent, offering tourists a chance to trek unspoiled terrestrial scenery and underwater reefs.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
With sunfish, mantas, dolphins, eagle rays, pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, clown frogfish, nudibranchs and blue-ringed octopus, at home in the Komodo Island, Indonesia, the site is a haven for all divers seeking an elaborate marine experience. In fact, the variety of marine life that is found in Komodo rivals that of the world’s best dive destinations. An all year round accessible site, the place registers its maximum number of tourists in months between April and August, however as far as the sightings of big marine life go, December to February are the best time to spot Manta.
Kerama Islands, Okinawa, Japan
The Kerama Islands are a site of 76 diving locations all of which are well protected, thanks to a local community that has embraced both its natural oceanic ecosystems and tourism. Located about 40 km west of Naha city on Okinawa Island, the islands all vary in size but nevertheless make for popular diving spots due to the transparent sea around.