Anemone while diving in Malaysia
See Petronas while diving in Malaysia

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Malaysia in a Nutshell: The Golden Peninsula

With 11 states in the Malayan peninsula, and Sabah and Sarawak in the island of Borneo, Malaysia is known to be a diverse melting pot of various racial groups with residents comprised of 57% Malay. The remaining percentage of its population is composed of Chinese, Indian and several other ethnic groups.

Malaysia ranks 43rd in the most populous nation with a total population of 28 million and is ranked 66th in the largest countries in the world with a land area of 329,847 km2. It is located to the east of Thailand and to the west of Indonesia, with naval boundaries between Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Malaysian government is categorized as a federal constitutional monarchy. The head of state is elected every five years from among the Malay sultanates, performing mostly ceremonial roles. He is referred to as the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or simply, the King.

The Malaysian cabinet exercises executive powers and is governed by the Prime Minister, the head of the government. Najib Tun Razak is currently Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

Being a highly-industrialized country, Malaysia supports its growth through its industrial sectors. Its economy is, in fact, considered to be the 3rd largest economy among Southeast Asian countries and ranks 29th in the world.

The Majestic Dive Sites in Malaysia

The tourism sector in Malaysia provides a significant contribution to the country’s overall economy.  As the third largest source of income, tourism has been constantly developed and promoted by the Malaysian government.

Apart from the exceptional architecture and historical landmarks built around the city, Malaysia also revels in rich marine resources distributed in its majestic seas. Among these are the numerous dive sites surrounding its crystal clear waters.

Crystal waters when diving in Malaysia

Tourism is a significant contributor to Malaysia's economy - Credit: CHEN WS

Mabul Island

With its immense variety of rare marine organisms, Mabul Island is not your usual dive destination.  In the international diving society, it is popularly known as the most splendid site for muck diving.

Unique species of ghost pipefish, devil scorpion fish, mandarin fish, and crocodile fish, which are hard to find in other diving sites, dwell in the seas surrounding the island. For underwater photographers, a wide array of macro-life such as species of vibrant nudibranchs, ribbon eels and blue-ringed octopuses are beautiful subjects for a photo shoot.

The majestic island of Mabul can be dived into all year round except during rainy seasons which usually occur in the month of December. The months between March and August are the peak season for diving reservations and bookings.

See a Nudi while diving in Malaysia

The vibrant Nudibranch Mollusc - Credit: Tatiana Belova

Kapalai Island

Simply put, the island of Kapalai offers the complete package of a relaxing and world-class diving getaway.

Kapalai Island is surrounded by shallow, pristine waters hosting spectacular species of marine organisms living in its impressive coral reefs.  Species of crocodile fish, frogfish, and mandarin fish will astonish you close to shore.

After a long day of underwater expeditions, taking refuge at the Sipadan- Kapalai Dive Resort while adoring the spectacle of the mesmerizing sunset will certainly complete your day. This makes visiting Kapalai Island a perfect destination to appreciate life and its wonders.

Diving in Kapalai Island is possible all year round although weather conditions and water temperature are best during the months of March to October.

Mandarin Fish seen while diving in Malaysia

Be astonished with this Mandarin fish while diving in Malaysia - Credit: Khoroshunova Olga

Lankayan Island

Frequently visited for muck diving activities, the paradise island of Lankayan has also been known to be surrounded by highways of large pelagic fish.

After being granted natural marine protection status, titanic creatures such as leopard sharks, giant groupers, and marbled stingrays have been recently spotted in its peripheries.

Two of the most sought-after dive sites in Lankayan Island are the Lankayan Wreck and the Jawfish Lair. The sunken vessel which formerly operated in illegal fishing now ironically functions as a haven for different lovely species of glassfish, painted frogfish, and harlequin ghost pipefish, among others. The Jawfish Lair, on the other hand, is famous for its mimic octopus and yellow jawfish.

Lankayan Island welcomes visitors throughout the year although sightings of whale sharks occur most frequently within the months of April and May.

A pipefish while diving in Malaysia

The Harlequin Ghost Pipefish - Credit: Kim Briers

Mataking Island

Being one of the newest additions to Sabah’s list of diving destinations, Mataking Island is not as famous as Sipadan and Mabul. Because it is mostly unexplored, you can take advantage of enjoying its untouched sceneries to the fullest.

Along with the Barracuda Point and Nudibranch Heaven, the Garden of Eden provides exciting sights of ribbon eels, frogfish, and leaf fish, making this site definitely worthy of consideration.

Diving in Mataking Island is exceptional between the months of February and November. With over 30 wonderful dive sites, you will definitely be fascinated by the bountiful havens of diversified macro-life of  Mataking Island.