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Your Guide to Diving Malaysia
Including Mabul, Sipadan and Layang Layang

All of Undercurrent's information on diving Malaysia, including articles, reader reports, Chapbook sections, ...

Diving Malaysia Overview

Sipadan, off Borneo, is Malaysia's only truly oceanic island and no longer has accommodations on shore, but one can still reach the good diving there through other resorts nearby. This includes Mabul and a converted oil rig, now a diving resort. Cousteau claimed this to be the best coral reef environment in the world, and it is home to a huge population of green turtles, whitetip reef sharks, bump-headed parrotfish and schooling barracuda among other marine life. Malaysia has areas that compete well with Indonesia, but its diving infrastructure is not comparably developed. Layang Layang is an artificial island built on a coral reef in the Spratley chain. Apart from the dive center and accommodations buildings, it has nothing more than its airstrip above the surface -- but below it is a stupendous underwater coral environment.

Malaysia Seasonal Dive Planner

Borneo/Kalimantan: Malaysia’s Sipadan Island is famous for its large year-round population of green turtles, with the highest concentration in August, when there's a whole lot of mating going on.

The island is limestone and sand with no rivers, so runoff has little effect on water clarity. However, water clarity seems as unpredictable as the currents. After a heavy lightning storm off in the direction of the mainland, the water visibility can drop dramatically from 100ft (30m) to 50ft (15m). The ocean is roughest between November and February. The best season is between April and September, but diving is year-round.

Layang Layang is a remote reef with only an airstrip, so there is no run-off, but occasional squalls of heavy rain can be intense and reduce surface visibility to almost zero, so take a visible surface marker.

Kalimantan forms the greater part of the island of Borneo and is part of Indonesia. The diving is mainly on the east coast and weather patterns are similar to the rest of the island, but big rivers can cause run-off that reduces visibility during the rains.

Diving Malaysia Reader Reports and Feature Articles

You must be an Undercurrent Online Member to view the complete members-only reports and articles.
Some articles that can be fully accessed by the public
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Latest Reader Reports from Malaysia

from the serious divers who read Undercurrent

All Reader Reports from Malaysia

All 10,000+
Borneo Divers/Borneo Divers Mabul Resort. Report in Malaysia/Borneo
"Borneo Divers Mabul Resort and Sukau Rainforest Lodge"
filed May 19, 2024 by Henry O Ziller (Experience: 501-1000 dives, 38 reports, Top Contributor )
4 stars

Mabul Resort – Borneo Divers. This trip included diving in Borneo with Borneo Divers – Mabul Resort, and touring Borneo with Sukau ... ... Read more Photos available

SeaVentures Report in Malaysia/Mabul, Kapalai, Sipadan
"A fantastic dive trip to Malaysia/Borneo"
filed Oct 26, 2023 by Richard P Tucker (Experience: 251-500 dives, 3 reports, Reviewer )
5 stars

We spent 8 nights at SeaVentures, a decommissioned oil rig off the coast of Sabah, North Borneo, converted into accommodations, cafeter... ... Read more Photos available

Seaventures Dive Rig Report in Malaysia/Borneo LiveAboard
"Better than I my wife told me"
filed Aug 15, 2022 by Richard Blackburn (Experience: Over 1000 dives, 13 reports, Contributor )
5 stars

The Rig ------- This is an old decommissioned oil platform. WHen you arrive they take you for an orientation tour of the facilitie... ... Read more Photos available

Borneo Divers/Kapalai Report in Malaysia/Sipadan
"Diving was great, resort a challenge"
filed Dec 1, 2019 by Fred M Drennan (Experience: 501-1000 dives, 6 reports, Reviewer )
4 stars

Trekked across Malaysian Borneo with Wild Planet Adventures [GREAT animals including orangutan & elephants & sun bears oh my]! Their se... ... Read more

Borneo Divers/Borneo Divers Mabul Resort Report in Malaysia/Mabul Island
"Bucket List Malaysia"
filed Aug 29, 2019 by Jeffrey Watkins (Experience: 251-500 dives, 3 reports, Reviewer )
4 stars

This report is part of a two week trip that included Sipadan Island and the Similan Islands in Thailand. You must dive Sipadan at least... ... Read more

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Complete Articles Available to Undercurrent Online Members; Some Publicly Available as Indicated

Diving Malaysia Articles - Liveaboards

Available to the Public
Problems with the Siren Fleet, divers must evacuate two liveaboards in less than six months, 7/12

Diving Malaysia Articles - Land Based

Boy Dies When Trainee Divers Go Missing, 4/22

Available to the Public
Not Getting Enough Time Underwater?, 10/19
Murder, Bombing and Mass Destruction in Sabah, an illegal fishing method becomes a deadly diving hazard, 8/19
Divers Disappointed in Sipadan, 3/18
Three More Popular Wrecks Lost Forever, 3/17
Security Concerns for Diving in Malaysia, 11/15
Another Diver Kidnapping Near Sipadan, 5/14
Eritrea, Kiribati, Sipadan . . ., why to consider Wananavu, when not to consider the Odyssey, 9/13
Sipadan Water Village, Borneo, Malaysia, orangutans in the jungle, orangutan crabs underwater, 1/13
Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Fiji, Truk. . ., plus unexpected cold water, and a liveaboard to avoid, 8/12
Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, plus advice about Mabul diving and your passport pages, 10/11
Virgins, Little Cayman, Palau, Sipadan…, Trash is drifting, sea life is missing, but these dive sites still shine, 2/11
Sipadan’s Dive Permit System Keeps Some Divers Out of Its Waters, 1/09
Sipadan Dive Operators Evicted, 7/04
Diving on a Singapore Layover, 1/97
Trouble in Sipadan, 9/95
Sipadan Island Dive Lodge, Borneo, Malaysia, Paradise At A Price, 11/92

Malaysia Sections from Our Travelin' Diver's Chapbooks

Reader Reports filed for that year

Malaysia Liveaboards

For Members Only


For Public

2014 2013 2012 2009 2008 2007

Land Based Dive Resorts in Malaysia

For Members Only


For Public

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
2004 2003 2002 2001        

Editor's Book Picks for Scuba Diving Malaysia
Including Mabul, Sipadan and Layang Layang

The books below are my favorites about diving in this part of the world All books are available at a significant discount from; just follow the links. -- BD

Reef Fish of the East Indies Reef Fish of the East Indies
by Gerald R. Allen and Mark V. Erdman

It's got a list price of $250 and a weight of 14 pounds, but the price and the poundage will be worth it to add this three-volume set to your library. Renowned marine biologists Gerald R. Allen and Mark V. Erdman have combined 60 years of surveys, fieldwork and research to create the most definitive guide of the Coral Triangle to date, perhaps forever. The 1,292 pages of text and 3,600 photographs (40 percent of which are of fish not seen before in print) gives comprehensive information on every known reef fish species from a region known as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity. An essential reference for any scuba diver.

Click here to buy it at Amazon.

Reef Creature Identification: Tropical Pacific Reef Creature Identification: Tropical Pacific
by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach

Paul Humann and Ned Deloach have done it again, releasing a definitive identification guide to 1600 extraordinary reef creatures of the Tropical Pacific. with this 500+ page softbound guide, you get upwards of 2000 exceptional photos of shrimp and crabs and stars and worms and lobsters and nudibranchs and slugs and squid and bivalves . . . well, all those invertebrates that move along the reefs of this region without fining, so it seems. There are several photos of some creatures to help you identify them during different life stages, and about ten percent of the book is descriptive copy so you can tie down your identification. Even if you have no plans to go to the tropical Pacific, just to thumb through the pages, gawk at the complexity and uniqueness of these animals, and read a thumbnail sketch will give any serious diver vicarious thrills for endless hours.

Click here to buy it at Amazon.

Four Fish Diving Indonesia's Bird's Head Seascape
by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock

This dynamic duo's book describes 130 dive sites of Raja Ampat, Triton Bay and Cenderawasih Bay, while offering practical information about the area. The detailed descriptions of the sites, complete with GPS coordinates, explains the terrain, how to dive the site, and the kinds of animals, coral and critters you can expect. Excellent photographs will help you identify many of the critters you will encounter.

If you have been to Raja Ampat, or dream about going, this thoughtful and well-illustrated book is for you.

The book is not available at the moment.

Diving Southeast Asia Diving Southeast Asia
by Beth & Shaun Tierney

This just-published, 302-page, soft-bound guide by Beth and Shaun Tierney, is a must for anyone contemplating diving in Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand. Where is Sipadan? Raja Ampat? Komodo? Richeliu Rock? Maps make it easy to pinpoint dive destinations and travel routes. Destination and 250 dive site descriptions (with tables on depth, visibility and currents) help you determine whether you’ll see big fish in the blue or pygmy seahorses in the muck. There’s a lot of supplemental information such as travel tips, health tips, and resorts and liveaboard descriptions.

Click here to order through Undercurrent and you’ll get Amazon’s best price -- and our profits will go to save coral reefs.

Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide
by Gerald R. Allen, Roger Steene.

I was trying to pack light for a change. Surely the Solomon Sea would have good identification books aboard. Not so; the only book on the boat belonged to a fellow passenger. It was one that I had not seen before, the Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide, by two of the best fish guys around, Gerry Allen and Roger Steene. The problem was this fellow passenger kept it in a plastic baggie most of the trip and I had to beg to see it. Great book, good traveling size, and it covers everything from fish, shells, marine plants, mammals, corals, and invertebrates to sea birds and more. Now I've got my own, and it won't do you any good to beg me to borrow it. This is one of two books that I will not travel to the Pacific without. Good for travel to the Red Sea, East Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Andaman Sea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii, it has 1,800 color illustrations in a 6x8 1/2 paperback format with 378 pages. $39.95.

Malaysia Macrolife A Diver's Guide to Underwater Malaysia Macrolife
by Andrea and Antonet La Ferrari

We just discovered the ultimate guide to Indo-Pacific macro life. It was published late last year by marine photographers and writers Andrea and Antonet La Ferrari, who have several other winning books in their portfolio. They picture and describe in full detail 600 different species, focusing on those found in the South China, Sulu, and Sulawesi seas. From colorful nudibranchs to cleaner shrimps and pipe fish, to larger species like cuttlefish and clown fish. Each description offers an insight on distribution, habitat, size, life habits, and U/W photo tips. Illustrated with more than 800 extraordinary color photographs and written in a clear, concise, informative style, this book is both a macro and fish field guide for all serious divers from the Maldives to Australia. A must for traveling divers.

Click here to buy it at Amazon.

Reef Fish ID Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific
by Gerald Allen, Rodger Steene, Paul Humann, & Ned Deloach

At last, here's a comprehensive fish ID guide covering the reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The generous 500-page text, displaying 2,500 underwater photographs of 2,000 species, identifies the myriad fishes that inhabit the warm tropical seas between Thailand and Tahiti. The concise text accompanying each species portrait includes the fish's common, scientific and family names, size, description, visually distinctive features, preferred habitat, typical behavior, depth range, and geographical distribution. This is an essential book for every diver traveling westward. 6x9 inches.

Click here to buy it at Amazon.

Diving Southeast Asia There's a Cockroach in My Regulator
by Undercurrent

The Best of Undercurrent: Bizarre and Brilliant True Diving Tales from Thirty Years of Undercurrent.

Shipping now is our brand new, 240-page book filled with the best of the unusual, the entertaining, and the jaw dropping stories Undercurrent has published. They’re true, often unbelievable, and always fascinating. We’re offering it to you now for the special price of just $14.95.

Click here to order.

You might find some other books of interest in our Editor's Book Picks section.


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