While Penang isn’t renowned for its marine activities, diving enthusiasts can find PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) and SSI (Scuba Schools International) courses throughout the island. Here are our favourite dive schools from basic open water training to learning how to become an instructor.
Despite its name, Langkawi Coral is one of the few dive schools in Penang. The company has two branches: one in Langkawi and the other approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) north of George Town. Langkawi Coral prides itself on promoting green and sustainable tourism, offering both PADI and SSI courses. Both cover scuba essentials, including the theory and plenty of practice, as well as safety and equipment familiarisation. PADI courses last four days, costing RM1900 ($476 USD), while an SSI Open Water Certification Course takes three days at RM1800 ($451 USD).
Based in George Town, Aqua Gems Dive School offers a variety of scuba courses from Open Water training and SSI Certification to shorter skill-based snorkelling classes. Instructors aim to teach students one-on-one, providing a much more personalised learning experience. But the biggest appeal of this dive school is the diversity of courses, refreshers and speciality training. Aqua Gems also takes special dive trips to certain parts of Malaysia’s East Coast, Thailand and the Philippines, but these need to be arranged in advance.
Seatrek Padi has catered to diving enthusiasts of all abilities in Penang since 2002. Performance-based courses range from basic PADI Scuba Diving up to Dive Master and everything else in between. Three instructors and four dive masters guide novices through training in an Olympic sized swimming pool using branded equipment. Expect high-quality courses with an emphasis on safety. Seatrek also arranges diving trips to East Malaysia and Borneo’s famous Sipadan Island.
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Long Adventure has a branch in Penang offering a variety of courses, including PADI, Freediving and specialised training. Apart from expert instructors nurturing soon-to-be divers, the company lets trainees learn at their own pace. Not everyone masters the skills instantly, so Long Adventure gives students unlimited use of the pool and equipment until they feel confident. We recommend this as one of the top dive schools in Penang for trainees with little to no experience in the water. And after finishing, why not join one of their regular trips around Borneo, Malaysia and the Maldives to put the theory into practice?
Penang Scuba Diving in the Permata Sports Complex teaches PADI Open Water Diver Course for beginners. The theoretical side focuses more on E-Learning using either a laptop or tablet. Practical sessions start in the complex’s swimming pool before taking trips to the island’s best dive spots at Pulau Penang Marine Park. Students and trainees have unlimited access to the pool and facilities while they undertake the course, creating a more relaxed and stress-free environment. This is one of the best dive schools in Penang for those who feel they need more time to master the skills, and prefer digitalised learning to traditional classroom-based sessions.