Liveaboard Diving in Malaysia

Scuba diving in Malaysia meets every divers' expectations for seeing colorful marine life, sharks and rays, and historical wrecks.

Liveaboards in Malaysia will allow divers to visit some of these amazing areas. Malaysia is known world-wide as a cultural and architectural paradise, but only scuba divers and snorkelers visiting the country's pristine marine ecosystem, will fully experience Malaysia and all it has to offer. A liveaboard dive cruise will allow visitors to explore the best diving this region has to offer. The country is made up of two similarly sized regions separated by the South China Sea - the Peninsular Malaysia, which shares a border with southern Thailand and East Malaysia (Borneo).

Nearly 874 official islands, and countless more that remain unnamed to this day, harbor biodiversity generally considered some of the best diving destinations in the world. It is estimated that Malaysia's ecosystem contains 20 percent of the world's animal species. The waters around Sipadan Island and the eastern coast including Sulu Sea, are some of the most biodiverse waters in the world harboring more than 600 species of coral and 1200 species of fish, many of them endemic. Malaysia is also home to more than 14,500 species of flowering plants and trees in forests estimated to be 130 million years old.

Liveaboard diving on a Malaysian dive safari is primarily focused in the Borneo region of Malaysia and allows divers to experience whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, schooling hammerheads, hawkbill turtles, barracudas, mimic octopus, puffer fish, and superb reefs along with muck diving for unforgettable macro sightings. The hundreds of tropical islands offer an incredible array of dive sites with beautiful underwater landscapes, sloping reefs and lush corals. Drift, deep, wreck, cavern and wall dives feature the regions more than 3,000 species of marine life - including some of the best macro dive sites in the world. At this time, liveaboard vessels operating in Malaysia are limited, though trips are available year-round and can be booked up to a year in advance. The Celebes Explorer gives guests unprecedented access to the best diving Sipadan can offer. Prices can range from $950 - $1802 (USD) per person for 3, 4 or 7 night holidays.

Departing on a dive cruise onboard the Celebes Explorer means guests will have 3-4 dives each day of the trip to fully explore Sipadan, located on the island of Borneo in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah. With more than 40 dive sites are located in the region, even return guests will find new adventures.

A liveaboard dive trip is the best way to get away from the crowds and experience Malaysian aquatic life undisturbed. Many sites are too far for day trips and can only be accessed by multi-day liveaboard operations.


SIPADAN - Jacques Cousteau famously said of Sipadan, "Now we have found an untouched piece of art." Since then, the world's third largest island has become a dive mecca. Located off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia's eastern most state, Sipadan ranked in Scuba Diving Magazine for top biodiversity in the world along with only two other locations in the world - the Galapagos Islands and Truk in Micronesia. Blue skies and clear water make for exceptional visibility as you swim with schooling jacks or a vortex of chevron or blacktail barracuda at the Barracuda Point dive site. Watch in awe as sea turtle dine on algae at Midriff Dive site. Dive Turtle Tomb - an impressive limestone cave dive where skeletal remains of hundreds of sea turtles remain. strewn about in dimly lit chambers.

MABUL - Discover a whole new world of small creatures off the shores of Mabul island in both day and night dives. Like other muck dives, visibility can get low, down to 5 to 8 meters, however, conditions from April to December are good with July and August being the best.

Dive Froggy Lair and for your frogfish fix and possibly sneak a shot of the cuttlefish or an ornate ghost pipefish. Bring a sharp set of eyes to Crocodile Avenue. Descend the sandy slope down to rock and reef formations to find seahorses, octopi, a rare species of crocodile fish, snake eels, frogfish, lobster, nudibranchs, antis shrimp and more.

KAPALAI - Kapalai is the third point of the famous dive triangle of Sipadan and Mabul. Kapalai isn't an island, but rather a sandbar the offers world-class macro diving. Explore the sloping reef at approximately 15 meters and see unprecedented biodiversity. Blue ring octopus, mimic octopus, and wasp fish are just a few common sights. On The Jetty Dive site, spot leaf scorpion fish and frog fish as you descend to five small wrecks below, known to be home to giant stingray, schools of jack and barracuda, orangutan crabs, rainbow-colored nudibranchs and countless species of shrimps. On the Mandarin Alley Dive site, named for the very rare but famous Mandarin Fish sightings on this dive, divers will hit a maximum depth of 18 meters and slowly search for small creatures such as the Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, Stone Fish octopus, Frog Fish and more.


The equatorial climate is moderated by the surrounding oceans so the islands enjoy temperatures between 28-34 degrees C (82-93 degrees F) though temperatures can vary from the peninsula to the east. Average rainfall is 98 inches (250 cm) per year. Cool sea breezes make even the high humidity pleasant.

Sporadic, heavy rains are common during the rainy season of December though March, though Malaysia is generally unaffected by monsoon season. Malaysia remains a popular dive destination year-round, but the best time to dive Sipadan is thought to be between April to September when the surface waters are most calm.

If you rarely get a chance to wear a "shortie", now is the time. Water temperatures range from 26-30 degrees C (70-80 degrees F).


Malaysia boasts a wide range of other adventures and activities that can transform a liveaboard trip in to the vacation of a lifetime. Plan for extra days so you can continue to enjoy Malaysia's unmatched biodiversity as you tour the jungles of Borneo, climb Mount Kinabalu, hike, bird watch, see Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, raft, kayak, go caving in Gunung Mulu National Park or take the time to relax on picture perfect sandy beaches and clear, turquoise waters.


Kota Kinabalu is the main gateway to Sabah's diving destinations, including Sipadan. Guests can fly directly to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and more. Flight recommendations will vary between liveaboard providers. Check with your liveaboard company for recommendations on travel plans. Malaysia Airlines offers flights 24 hours throughout the country guaranteeing you can be ready for pick-up and arrival at your liveaboard of choice.


Time your trip wisely. Most dive sites in the region are busiest during the summer months of June to August. If partying after a day of diving is your thing, these may be the months for you. If serenity is more your style, consider coming before or after the crowds.

Dive and snorkel rentals are typically not included in liveaboard price quote. Permit fees may also be charged for particular dive areas.

English is widely spoken throughout the country, but Bahasa Malaysia is the national language.

The Malaysian Ringgit is the national currency. Most cities and larger hotels, restaurants and shops will take credit card, but be prepared with cash when visiting smaller communities, particularly in Eastern Malaysia, or making transactions and tipping on your liveaboard.