It is well known that one of the most beautiful regions in the world for travel and diving is Asia. Indeed, the landscapes are magnificent, the local populations warm and the food delicious! Moreover, it is one of the most affordable travel destinations; even scuba diving is not expensive in Asia!
In this article, I spare you the usual Thailand, as well as the famous island of Koh Tao, which is one of the most popular destinations for diving certificates. The reason is simple; everyone knows the island and the country, for many reasons, and the web is full of information about Thailand, just like the Diving Blog! Also, you will notice that we are going a little beyond Southeast Asia, with one country in particular that is further north!
So, I make you a top 5 of the most beautiful scuba diving destinations in Asia, which I have visited, or that are on my bucketlist. Of course, there are some for all levels of divers, from beginners to divemasters! Also, palm, mask and snorkel diving enthusiasts will find it interesting since there are several excellent snorkelling sites in Asia!
There is one important thing to consider before starting, and that is the fact that many destinations are very primitive, so little affected by the human footprint to date. So it is important that this does not change, and it is up to us, travellers and divers of this world, to be careful. To do this, make sure you know the basics of responsible scuba diving, and dive with operators whose practices are ethical and eco-responsible.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Did you see that coming? I can imagine that! So, Raja Ampat, where is it, and why does everyone dream of going there?
The region is part of the province of West Papua, Indonesia, and is a somewhat remote region, so it is not so easy to access. Raja Ampat’s name means “four kings” in French, referring to the four islands of the region, Misool, Batanta, Waigeo and Salawati. Already, Indonesia is known for offering many great scuba diving opportunities, but Raja Ampat is “the best of the best”! Indeed, the region is located in the very heart of the Coral Triangle, and has the largest number of different coral species in the world. Of course, its underwater fauna is dense, and just as diverse.
Sipadan is a small oceanic island in Malaysia, located northeast of Borneo, which is on the same island as Indonesian Kalimantan. The island itself is not very large, and it is covered in tropical jungle, but it is the coral reefs around it that hold our attention. Marine life is abundant and corals are healthy, all thanks to government measures ensuring eco-responsible practices around this small paradise!
Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which many people associate with Thailand, are in fact Indian islands. The islands are less frequented than the Similan Islands because they are further from the Thai coast and a long way from the Indian subcontinent. As a result, diving is excellent, not too busy and the seabed is rich in fish and corals of all kinds.
This is a diving destination in Asia that is not well known than others. Okinawa is the southernmost point of the Japanese archipelago, therefore north of the Philippines. The Kerama Islands, in particular, offer a dream tropical scuba dive! There are more than 70 dive sites, all of which have a visibility of more than 30 metres. The underwater fauna and flora of the islands is impressive, you will find as many small and rare molluscs as the great ocean stars such as the Manta rays.
The Philippines is a travel and scuba diving destination that is often overlooked. This is because there was a time when practices in the country were very damaging to corals and to tourism in general. Fortunately, the wind has shifted, the situation has improved and the tourism industry is reborn.
There are many diving destinations; Cebu, Coron, Bohol, Scubic Bay, and many more. Let’s focus here on Palawan, and the beautiful reef of Tubbataha, off its coast. You will find many species of sharks, turtles and fish. The reef includes a 100-metre perpendicular wall, incredible lagoons and beautiful coral islands. Mostly accessible by scuba diving cruise, the reef is also visited by a few boats per day.