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The Best Diving in Asia [TOP 12 DIVE SPOTS]

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Despite the earth being in existence for zillions of years, the aquatic regions have continued to remain a mystery to humankind. True, Marine biologists, underwater explorers and the likes have managed to penetrate the depths and enhance their learning to a great extent. But still, there is still so much we don’t know. Whilst there are some great dive spots all around the world (even in Norway), I decided to make this list of the best diving in Asia for those who want to explore the underwater scene there.

If you, like me, are mesmerized by this mysterious unexplored world, scuba diving must be your thing. And there’s no debate about the fact that Asia is home to some of the best diving spots in the world. In relatively close proximity, you can get to see so much and learn more about this majestic paradise – both in and out of the oceans. Below, you will find my top 12 recommendations for diving spots in Asia.

diving gran canaria, el cabron dive site

Best diving in Asia: the Top 12 Spots!

Keep reading for the best diving in Asia! Obviously, there are countless of other dive spots in Asia that are all great, and this list doesn’t even include all of my favourites (a shoutout goes to DiveOceanus in the Maldives where I first got certified). But it’s definitely a great starting point for anyone who wants to go diving in Asia.

#1 Coron Island, The Philippines

If you are not squeamish about exploring wrecks then you should visit this island, which is located on Busuanga Island’s south coast. The only way to get there is via air, or a 4 hours ferry from El Nido. Once you reach Busuanga, you get into a vehicle, for the 30 minutes trip to Coron Town. The waters around this town are where a major naval battle took place during WW2, making Coron one of the best places in the world for wreck diving.

Even if you do not go near the wrecks, the blue-green waters of the sea, the brilliantly shining sandy beaches, and the glorious green vegetation dotting the steep cliffs created from black limestone, will be enough to keep you amazed. Coron, and Kayangan lake in particular, are considered the most beautiful place in the Philippines.

As for the wrecks themselves, they are those of Japanese ships, which have been there since WW II. With the help of an informed guide, you should be able to peep at Akitsushima, Irako, Okikawa, and Kogyo, and so much more.

#2 Bohol Island Province, The Philippines

Bohol is a small island located right next to Cebu. Towards the south-western point of Bohol is Panglao island. From here, you move on to one of the best spots for scuba diving in The Philippines. This place is Balicasag island, merely 600 meters in diameter.

Ever since 1985, the place has acquired global fame as a marine sanctuary. This means that you should be able to watch all kinds of aquatic animals in action. However, the sea turtles top the charts in popularity! They are extremely friendly, and offer you good company while you are exploring the depths in your scuba diving suit! They haunt the coral garden, which forms the top of an underwater plateau. This plateau is about 7-12 meters in depth, and a drop of around 35 meters.

#3 Tubbataha Reef, The Philippines

UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in 1993. The experts were fascinated by the pristineness of the coral reef, the splendid islands teeming with corals, expansive lagoons, and best of all, the perpendicular wall stretching 100 meters above the coral reef.

It has gained popularity as a marine park, rich in diverse types of aquatic life. This National Marine Park is right in the midst of the Sulu sea, as well as in the midst of the Coral Triangle. The most popular marine wildlife comprises of green turtles, sharks, reef fish, hawksbill, etc.

Tubabataha Reef is not for beginners. The only way to visit it is through liveaboard trips which last 7 nights. If you are a hardcore diver, this is a small price to pay to visit on the most beautiful and ecologically diverse places on earth though! If a liveaboard sounds a bit scary, there are luxury tours in Tubbataha with private yachts as well. Since the Philippines is pretty cheap overall, this could be a great experience, especially if you arrive with a group.

#4 Shark Point at Phuket, Thailand

As the name suggests, this coastline is teeming with sharks. The locals refer to it as Hin Musang. If you do not mind their presence, climb the 20-meter-high rock rising above sea level, and get ready to dive!

You will be able to explore gardens comprising of both, soft and hard corals. If you are lucky, will be able to glimpse two kinds of sharks too – the Reef Shark and the Leopard Shark. Despite the sharks being friendly, you would do well to stay away from murky/dark areas, lacking complete visibility.

This attraction can easily be incorporated in a 2 weeks’ vacation in Thailand. Click here for a detailed itinerary.

Want to read more about diving in Thailand? Here you go!

#5 The Andaman Islands, India

It may seem astounding, but the best diving site here, is jumping off an extinct volcano! This volcano exists on Narcondam Island. You will be able to observe a bewitching variety of fish and coral. There are plenty of species, which find this particular environment to be particularly healthy and invigorating. Then again, there are barrel sponges, that shoot up to four meters height. Sea fans really seem like large fans spreading their wings in the depths of the sea. The most enjoyable times for diving are the wet months of February, March, August and September.

best diving in asia

#6 Qiandao Lake, China

Would you like to explore an underground city? If so, book a private tour that includes the 3-hour drive from Hangzhou to the Zhejiang Province. The lake covers an area of 365 square miles, comprising of numerous small and large islands. The minute you dive to a certain depth in a certain spot, you will find yourself gazing at a city that has been lost for 1800 years. The locals refer to it as the Lost City. The story goes that the huge city had to be sacrificed, for constructing the dam was deemed to be more important!

#7 Soneva Fushi, The Maldives

It is a private island, yet provides a luxurious diving holiday. You may go for adventurous scuba dives in the mornings, before trying out the superb spa therapies on offer during the afternoon. Dine well in the evening, and look forward to the next day’s thrills. There is even a PADI diving school at hand, for teaching you how to dive and snorkel. Above all, you may customize your daily experiences in alignment with your interests.

#8 Cocoa Island, The Maldives

The accommodation and the amenities are out-of-this-world! Then again, whether you are a beginner or an expert, this place is wonderfully suitable for your scuba diving experiments. You will have to book for your lessons, anywhere between 8 am and 6 pm, on any day. This ensures that everyone gets to dive off the spot, and the instructors are able to provide guidance, whenever needed.  Your dives will take you amongst various schools of colorful fish, sharks, and turtles.

#9 Derawan Islands, Indonesia

Found in the East Kalimantan region, this island promises glimpses of numerous varieties of fish. They include cuttle fish, Spanish mackerel, Scorpio fish, Napoleon wrasses, jacks, etc. As for the coral, there are over 50 of them to be found in the ocean’s depths. However, there are two species that you must make it a point to observe at close quarters.

One is the stingless jellyfish. Oh, yes, this jellyfish has lost its sting during the process of evolution! Another species is the Chelonia Mydas Turtle. You should be able to actually view them hatching their respective sets of eggs. Above all, if you should venture below the jetty that stretches beyond 200 meters, you should be able to spot some really bizarre creatures!   

diving in Asia, female diver showing OK sign

#10 Komodo Islands, Indonesia

As the name suggests, this tiny group of islands is home to the Komodo Dragon. Apart from observing these unique, large lizards, you may choose any amongst the 50 odd diving spots. There are dolphins, blue ringed octopus, manta ray, etc. even the coral is a rich tapestry of colors. March to October is the best season for visiting these islands. Again, this is a fairly remote island so planning your trip there is carefully is crucial.

#11 Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

It is home to the national marine park. The biggest number of fish and coral, may be found here. There are 1,074 species of fish, and 537 types of coral. With the avoidance of disease and coral bleaching, the marine life continues to thrive. The island itself constitutes four major islands, as well as 1,500 small islands. The best part is the friendly dolphins around the place!

#12 Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia

Found of the coast of Sihanoukville, these islands are home to friendly fishermen and their families. The beaches are wonderfully warm and white. The coral gardens comprise of big mountain corals, soft gorgonias, etc. all manner of fish move amongst these corals.

Have you tried the best diving in Asia?

There you have 12 hand-selected spots for the best diving in Asia! Do you agree with the list? Is there anywhere you’d want to add to it? Let me know in the comments below!

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