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Snorkelling and scuba diving in Malaysia's tropical islands © Paul Lim/Flickr
Snorkelling and scuba diving in Malaysia's tropical islands © Paul Lim/Flickr

These Are the Best Places to Snorkel in Malaysia

Picture of Lu Yin Wai
Updated: 29 November 2017

Malaysia’s tropical islands are popular among snorkelling enthusiasts who love to dive into the beautiful reefs. Some of them even acquire diving licenses. Here are the best places to explore its colourful corals and sea creatures.

Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is the only island built on a volcanic seamount from the surrounding seabed. Its blue water is 500 meters deep. It has become a hanging garden filled with radiant corals. It is ideal for Wall Diving. For starters, we suggest diving within the 3-6-meter area. Swim with the turtle friends and bumphead parrot fishes at the Turtle Tomb. Be amazed with a school fishes at the Barracuda Point; visit the Mid-Reef, home to hard corals and reef fishes.

Turtles at Sipadan Island

Turtles at Sipada Island © William Warby/Flickr

Langkawi Island

Snorkelling is a ‘must-do’ recreation activity when holidaying at Langkawi Island to explore marine life and fishes. The best places to snorkel around the island are at Datai Bay Beach and Chabang Island (a near 10-minute walk from Tanjung Rhu Beach). Since Datai Bay Beach is a private beach, we recommend staying at the Andaman Resort and the Datai Resort. We also recommend taking boat rides to Pulau Payer Marine Park and Pulau Dangli Beach. Ask the boat operators when the best time is to dive and explore the reefs.

Coral reef area in Langkawi

Coral reef area in Langkawi © Hamizan Yusof/Shutterstock

Redang Island

All the resorts in Redang Island offer snorkelling trips for travellers (about RM$30 (US$7) per day for renting the snorkelling equipment). The guides will be there to assist you in your snorkelling adventures. Explore Tanjung Tengah, known as the Shark Bay, where you can see a group of baby black-tip sharks between April and August. Ensure to snorkel carefully to avoid damages to the corals. Make your way to Tanjung Mak Cantik which is along the rocky outcrop on the right. The left side of rocky outcrop is for experienced divers. Visit the Marine Park Centre that leads to the vast barrier reef filled with wondrous marine life.

Playing with the coral fishes at Redang Island

Playing with the coral fishes at Redang Island © Hamizan Yusof/Shutterstock

Tioman Island

Snorkelling in Tioman Island is popular among tourists. There are plenty of snorkelling sites, including holiday resorts for you to rent the gear (less than RM$100 (USD$25) per person). Coral Island and Malang Rocks has plenty of marine life to explore. Renggis Island is one of the best spot to snorkel in this tropical island. Its shallow waters provide a magnificent view of corals in the vast reefs. Have fun with the turtles, puffer fishes and clown fishes at the Salang Beach.

Diving in Salang Bay, Tioman Island

Diving in Salang Bay, Tioman Island © The Travel Manual/Flickr

Perhentian Island

Perhentian Island is one of the recommended tropical islands to learn diving. We suggest taking either the PADI Open Water Diver course at Anti-Gravity Divers Dive School. Guided by professional instructors, you will be taken to the beautiful underwater world of marine life and natural corals. The popular diving sites to explore are Tokong Laut, Romantic Bay and Sugar Wreck. Alternatively, you can go snorkelling near the jetty pier at Long Beach or join the snorkelling trips at Sea Sport Centre (RM$40 (USD$10) per adult and RM$20 (USD$5) per child).

Snorkeling in clear waters of Perhentian Island

Snorkeling in clear waters of Perhentian Island © sydeen/Shutterstock

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

The marine park is a stunning tropical marine paradise. Start your snorkelling adventures by booking the trips at Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive & Adventure Centre at Gaya Island. You will be taken to the adventurous diving sites including Gaya Island, offshore sites, Pulau Tiga and Mantanini. These areas are suitable for beginners and experienced divers. You can experience underwater photography with the coral reefs and fish. Choose the Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver or Refresher courses before diving at Kapalai, Sipadan and other diving sites.

Turquoise waters of Manukan Island

Turquoise waters of Manukan Island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park © amrufm/Flickr

Layang Layang Island

Layang Layang Island is coined as ‘The Jewel of Borneo Banks’ near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. It has breathtaking underwater scenery of 13 linked coral walls and large sea animals in crystal-clear waters. Check out their mesmerising diving sites, including Crack Reef, Dogtooth Lair, D’Wall, Gorgonian Forest, Navigator’s Lane and Shark’s Cave. You will see the hammerhead sharks, pygmy seahorses, barracudas and manta rays among the island’s marine life. We recommend visiting between March and October to avoid heavy monsoon season.

Exploring the barrier reefs of Layang Layang Island

Exploring the barrier reefs of Layang Layang Island © matthew lee/Flickr

Kapas Island

Kapas Island is a smaller and less-crowded island to go snorkelling at. It takes a 20- to 30-minute boat ride from the coastal town of Marang, Terengganu. Renting the snorkelling gear costs RM$10 (USD$2.50) per day. There are few spectacular diving sites, to discover various fish species and turtles. We suggest exploring at Berakit Reef, Japanese Landing Craft Wreck (a WWII Japanese ship wreck), and Gemia Island. Make your bookings at the Aqua Spot Divers. You can also acquire a diving license there too.

Beautiful Kapas Island off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Beautiful Kapas Island off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah © Dave Anderson/Flickr

Mabul Island

Spend a snorkelling day trip at the Mabul Island where you will discover the tiniest and rarest marine life. Hop on the boat from Semporna that takes you to Mabul Island. Swim to the beautiful diving sites of Eel Garden, Ribbon Valley, Stingray City, Lobster Wall and Panglima, where you will see colourful corals, home to barracudas, eels, turtles, cuttlefish, octopus, rays and schools of reef fishes. You might be lucky to see a whaleshark. End your trip by relaxing at the beach in Mabul Island.

Lion fish in Mabul Island

Lion fish in Mabul Island © Ajith Kumar/Flickr