of lush green mountainsides, palm trees and isolated beaches with
sugar white sands and not another soul in sight. Think exotic and
affordable. Now throw in a few thoughts about the most bizarre macro
creatures imaginable, diving on an active volcano, swirling schools
of tropical fishes and some adrenaline pumping encounters with pelagics,
and what you have is Southeast Asian diving.
the largest archipelagic nation in the world, with some 13, 675
islands. Of these, roughly 6,000 are named, and only 1,000 are inhabited.
Perhaps the most widely known isle is that of Bali, a land famous
for its volcanic landscapes, luxuriant rainforests, gentle people
and traditional culture. Bali is also a perfect choice for macro
photographers who want to create images in rich flourishing coral
many destinations in Indonesia can be enjoyed from land-based resorts,
a live-aboard is also a good choice. Regardless, Sulawesis
Lembeh Straits should not be missed. There you can enjoy the thrills
of muck diving while searching for a Mimic Octopus, seahorses, Leaf
Scorpionfish, frogfish, Snake Eels and more.
waters off the islands of Sangalaki, Derawan and Kakaban to the
east of Borneo provide excellent odds for swimming eyeball to eyeball
with turtles, sharks, and Manta Rays. The shallow reefs nearby are
well known for numerous cleaning stations.
pristine underwater world surrounding the islands east of Bali including
Lombok and Komodo take on a more Australian flavor in terms of flora
and fauna, as is the case with Wakatobi to the northeast of Komodo.
the last decade or so, increasing numbers of vacationing divers
have began to explore the Malaysian waters of Southeast Asia, including
Sipadan, Mabul, Labuan, Layang Layang and the Malay Peninsula.
tiny, oceanic isle of Sipadan to the east of Borneo is probably
the best known of Malaysias diving gems. Its been made
famous by its resident turtle populations, colorful fishes and excellent
Mabul Island, home of a wonderful variety of nudibranchs and other
intriguing invertebrates, rises from the continental shelf below.
Labuan is known to divers as the shipwreck capital of Malaysia.
Battered wrecks from World War II, along with a number of modern
wrecks that are more intact, provide a lot of variety. Upright in
easily accessible depths, the wreck of the Tun Huang is a featured
of Borneo, the atoll of Layang Layang supplies a mix of easy, shallow
lagoon dives, exploration along sheer walls adorned by enormous
sea fans, current cuts and drift dives. Encounters with dense schools
jacks, Manta Rays and schooling Hammerhead Sharks in provide superb
parks in the waters surrounding the rich archipelago of Pulau Redang
and Tioman Island flourish with healthy coral gardens inhabited
by numerous tropical species.
Andaman Sea, especially around Similan and Surin Islands, is known
worldwide for pristine reefs with healthy populations of fish species
and myriad invertebrates. Prolonged encounters with Whale Sharks
and many of their cartilaginous cousins, especially Leopard Sharks
and Shovel-nose Rays, are common at Richelieu Rock. A thrilling
Nurse and Silvertip Shark dive is also found at distant Burma Banks.
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