Best scuba diving destinations for beginners in Southeast Asia

If you are in Southeast Asia and have a love for islands, clear blue seas, snorkelling, and a sense of adventure then scuba diving is definitely for you!

One of the best experiences you can have on a tropical island, scuba diving allows you to explore the amazing marine life that you will not see otherwise, and trust us, it’s nothing like the marine aquariums on land!

Not only home to an array of amazing diving spots, chances are, you’ll get more bang for your buck as Southeast Asia is relatively cheap and affordable when it comes to obtaining your licence, discovering scuba diving for the first time, or simply adding more dives to your log book.

Not sure where to start? Keep scrolling for the best scuba diving destinations in Southeast Asia for beginners. If you are a seasoned diver wanting to delve deeper than Open Water’s 18 metres, fret not as most of these destinations are multi-leveled, depending on the diving spots.

Sipadan, Malaysia


Located in Borneo (Sabah), Sipadan Island is one of the best places in the world to dive. There is no end to one’s fascination when diving in this area as there is plenty to see at every turn, may it be a curious turtle, a coral reef brimming with fishes, or that barracuda vortex.

As Sipadan is a hot spot for divers of all levels and a permit is needed to scuba dive around the island, do make sure you make your bookings in advance to avoid disappointment.

A word of warning; if you start your diving journey here, your benchmark for diving spots will be pretty high as there are few places that come close to the beauty you’ll find when diving in Sipadan.

Tulamben, Indonesia

Liberty Wreck, Bali, Indonesia.  © Christian Loader / scubazooimages.comChristian Loader/

Located in the North East of Bali, Indonesia, Tulamben is known for its lush black sand, the perfect background for subjects for the underwater photographer.

Explore the USS Liberty Shipwreck, a US Army ship which sank in the 1940s, which has been made home by a variety of marine life. Located only 25 from shore, this diving spot is ideal for the curious diver.

Don’t forget to go on a night dive to observe the marine life that come out when the sun goes down. Who knows, you might find a Spanish Dancer nudibranch!

Koh Tao, Thailand

Diving with whale sharks? YES PLEASE!!

Next to Mexico when it comes to the most diving certifications, people across the globe travel to Koh Tao for one reason – to scuba dive. If you’re looking to party it up Full Moon style, Koh Tao is not for you as it is just what the doctor ordered for scuba divers; peace and relaxation.

Expect to see an array of marine life, from reef sharks to tropical fish. If you are lucky, you may come across a whale shark in these waters.

As this place is a hotbed for diving, you’ll find a large selection of dive centres for you to choose from. As prices are competitive, try to do a little browsing before you settle for one!

Phuket, Thailand


Although Phuket is known as a hot tourist spot for partying travellers, Muay Thai enthusiasts and the lot, one of the must-dos on the island is scuba diving, making it an all-rounder as a tourist or traveller’s destination.

Located in the lower Andaman region, these warm waters provide the ideal habitat for the colourful corals and tropical fish that call it home.

Head over to Koh Bon, just a little South of Phuket if manta rays are your thing, or visit world famous Richelieu Rock for macro marine life.

The Visayas, The Philippines

A collection of thousands of islands in The Philippines, the Visayas are identified by nine major island groups – Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros, Guimaras, Panay, Romblon, Samar and Leyte.

Boracay, a prime destination for sun and sand loving tourists is located within the Visayas and has a number of diving centres for one to choose from.

If thresher sharks are what you want to encounter, Malapascua would be your best bet while Dauin is perfect for the macro life seeker.

Do you have any scuba diving destinations in Southeast Asia for beginners you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.

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