Asia is known as a diver's paradise around the world. The vast oceans are home to 75% of the planet’s coral species and remarkably diverse marine life. The tropical islands, gorgeous beaches and seemingly endless scuba diving potential have divers drooling to take their next holiday in Asia. Here's some of our personal top picks for diving destinations.
Tioman Island, Malaysia
Internationally known as one of the best places to scuba dive in the world, Tioman Island is situated right where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet and is rich with biodiversity. Anyone lucky enough to take their dive vacation here will be swimming amongst colorful hard and soft coral and thousands of fish like snapper, barracuda, batfish, black tip sharks, turtles and rays. With the right timing, you may even spot a nurse shark or eagle ray. Tioman Island is suitable for any level of diver- those more experienced can head off the main island to somewhere like Soyak Island and beginners can choose from plenty of schools.
Mergui Archipelago (Myeik), Myanmar
Some 800 islands scattered just off the coast of Myanmar make up the Mergui Archipelago. This hidden gem is secluded from the rest of the world and largely untouched by tourists and divers alike. Because Myanmar’s borders weren’t opened until the late 90’s, the region is still largely unknown and very much off-the-beaten track. This is the perfect adventure for a seasoned diver looking for a new challenge with breathtaking clear seas, massive boulders, tunnels and drop-offs. The waters in this region are swimming with sharks, barracudas, manta rays, frogfish, red lionfish and more.
Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
It's for good reason that the Raja Ampat Islands are known as some of the best dive spots in the world. With over 500 species of coral and more than 1000 different types of fish, the islands have the highest recording of fish and coral species on the planet. Picture gorgeous blue ocean, white sandy beaches and world class diving with manta rays, sharks, macro, travellies, giant clams, and sea horses to name a few. You can’t ask for much more. A liveaboard is the best way to maximize your diving experience if it's in the budget, but there are also plenty of resorts that offer diving packages for a range of prices.
Pondicherry, IndiaPerhaps this lesser known destination isn’t worth a trip solely for diving, but if you find yourself in India already we highly recommend escaping the chaos with a peaceful trip below the seas. Pondicherry is located in the Bay of Bengal off the southern coast of India. There are 22 dive sites suitable for beginner and intermediate divers; the draw of this place is the unique artificial reef built entirely out of recycled materials like old car parts, bicycles, stones, concrete, and trees. Known as Temple Reef, it was built completely by hand and spans 40 by 40 square meters. It’s now a thriving site for thousands of fish like giant groupers and yellow frogfish.
Koh Tang, Cambodia
Koh Tang is known to divers around the world for its vivid sea life and colorful coral. The remote island is well worth the trip for divers looking to immerse themselves in incredibly clear waters with an average visibility of 15 meters. In the three main diving areas Explosion Reef, Three Bears and Sting Ray Alley, you will find plenty of triggerfish, large barracuda, batfish, string rays, octopus, and an interesting series of caves.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and one of our favorite recommendations for the ultimate diving holiday. Here you will find it all- amazing scuba diving in crystal clear waters, nightlife and entertainment, viewpoints, temples, and with a little effort you can even venture to lesser-known beaches to enjoy some solitude. If you’re looking to dive with sharks, this is the place to be. Head to Shark Point, known as Hin Musang to the locals, where you can swim with leopard sharks, reef sharks and large schools of tropical fish and beautiful coral.
This small island attracts diving enthusiasts from around the world. Known primarily for its wall diving, there are over 50 dive sites and something appropriate for every experience level. The diving is high quality with healthy coral, pristine water conditions and great visibility. Due to constantly changing currents, Bunaken mainly consists of drift diving, but there are enough sites without currents to make this destination great for beginners as well. Here you can expect to see turtles, puffers, groupers, snappers and angelfish among other creatures.
Asia is saturated with spectacular dive sites making it difficult to choose only the best. We hope this little guide gives you a taste of some of the best diving and inspires your next adventure. For more where this came from, check out our Diving Map.