This article describes some of the better dive sites in South East Asia. As a scuba diver, you will probably know that scuba diving in South East Asia has always been very popular because of its vast species of marine life and rich diversity of colorful corals.
As a matter of fact, there are many world class dive sites in this region and with its excellent underwater visibility, South East Asia is indeed a scuba diver’s haven. So, here are some of the top dive sites in South East Asia many of which I have dived in several times.
We shall start with Indonesia and of course, the island of Bali cannot be left out. Perhaps the most dived site in Bali is the Liberty wreck. The wreck was a US army logistic ship sunk by Japanese submarine torpedoes during the last world war.
Liberty wreck lies in the depth of about 10m (32ft) to 30m (100ft) over 120m (385ft) of the sea bed. Divers can see guns, toilets, ship anchor chain among other things of a typical shipwreck. The wreck is heavily encrusted with corals and brightly decorated with gorgonian sea fans and sea anemones.
Scuba divers will also encounter large schools of trevally and more than 400 species of marine fishes and even exotic colonies of elusive garden eels.
Similan island in Thailand is another interesting dive site. Similan is located off the coast of Khao Lak which was hit badly by a Tsunami 2006. Nine granite islands made up the Similan islands. These islands are covered by luxuriant tropical rainforests surrounded by pristine white beaches and turquoise blue water.
This area is a protected national park. Below the water lie a sprawling underwater garden of deep canyons, coral gardens, huge granite boulders, caves and walls. Liveaboard scuba diving is the norm here.
Sipadan Island in Malaysia was made famous by Jacques Cousteau’s documentary entitled Ghost Of The Sea Turtles. This is an oceanic island which is not connected to any continental shelf that rises about 2000 ft on an awesome limestone pinnacle and mushrooms out at the surface.
Many dive magazines have named Sipadan as one of the best dive sites in the world and reported to have the largest variety of soft corals in the world. At Sipadan, scuba divers will encounter exciting drift dives, fascinating coral formations, turtles, lobsters, barracudas and even various species of sharks.
Manado, northen Sulawesi, Indonesia is the gateway to world class dive spots in the Bunaken National Park. Muck diving, meaning diving for little critters on the seabed in Manado bay is the norm here. In this part of Indonesia, you will encounter exhilarating wall dives, drop offs, huge napoleon wrasse, reef sharks and also another shipwreck.
Layang Layang in Malaysia is a breathtaking atoll. It is part of a shoal group in the South China Sea known as the Spratly islands. Here, massive numbers of barracuda roams the water, large pelagic fishes and sharks make this place home. Do not be surprised if you are investigated by a school of hammerhead sharks.