Malaysia is part of the Coral Triangle, a region which concentrates the greatest underwater biodiversity in the world. It is estimated that it contains 30% of the coral reefs and 35% of the reef fish species on earth. More than 350 coral species are found in Malaysia, and Sabah (a state of Malaysia located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo) contains more than 75% of all Malaysian reefs. Several of these lively reefs are close the surface of the water, making them easily accessible to snorkelers. In well preserved areas, is quite easy to see green sea turtles, clownfish (including ocellaris clownfish, best known as “Nemo”), several species of angelfish, and even reef sharks and manta rays.

Snorkeling the Perhentian Islands
Fish Point is one of the busiest snorkel spots in the Perhentian Islands.

The islands of the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia offer a wealth of great snorkeling spots. The enchanting Perhentian Islands (Pulau Kecil and Pulau Besar), where it is easy to spot sea turtles and sharks, are certainly the most visited among them. Together with Pulau Redang (where coral reefs are best preserved) and 6 other islands, they form the Pulau Redang Marine Parks, off the Terengganu coast. Further south, Pulau Tenggol is also a good snorkeling location, as well as Pulau Tioman and its surrounding smaller islands. Contrary to the east coast, the west coast of the peninsula is not renewed for its coral reefs, excepted Langkawi Island, where snorkeling is decent.

Bluespotted stingray and coral reef at Rawa Island
You can observe bluespotted ribbontail rays on the well-preserved reefs surrounding the small Rawa Island.

Peninsular Malaysia is assuredly a great snorkeling destination. However, the real snorkeling must in the country is with no doubt Malaysian Borneo, and particularly the state of Sabah. This area has become well established as one of the finest dive and snorkeling locations in Asia. The small islands offshore Borneo are the perfect travel destination for tourist that like to explore and snorkel remote places full of wildlife. The 5 islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, including Pulau Manukan and Pulau Gaya, are located in front of Sabah, and are the most accessible of the area. Langkayan island (surrounded by vibrant coral reefs, where you can spot sea turtles, rays and sharks), Selingan island (also known as “Turtle island”, famous for its nestling beaches), Mataking island (mith its sparkling white sand and mesmerizing blue waters) and Sipadan -described as an “Untouched Piece of Art” by Jacques Cousteau- are all great and exclusive places for snorkeling.

When to go snorkeling Malaysia?

The weather in Malaysia is tropical –hot, humid and rainy year round-, with a large amount of rainfall during the annual monsoon seasons: from April to October in the southwest, and October to February in the northeast. The best times to practice snorkeling in Malaysia is during January/February on the west coast, June/July on the east coast, and April in Sabah and the islands of Malaysian Borneo. Air temperatures range from a mild 20°C to 30°C average throughout the year, while water temperature average is 26 to 30°C. Visibility in the water is generally clear, and can reach up to 50 meters on perfect days.”

Best times of the year for snorkeling the Perhentian Islands
JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
SEPTEMBER
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
Warm and humid
Warm and sunny

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More than 170 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!

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Where to spot them?

Discover on which snorkeling spots you are most likely to see your favorite species
Our favorite spots in Malaysia
Rawa Island
Pulau Rawa is part of a string of small islets and reefs lying 5 kilometers northwest of the Perhentian Islands. Around this idyllic island bathed by crystal-clear waters, you will see clownfish, angelfish, stingrays...

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