Warm tropical waters, an endless sea of blue, and some of the most vibrant marine life imaginable are just a few things that makes Asia the perfect place to discover the underwater world.
Whether you’re an avid diver or a leisurely snorkeler, these waters are some of the best in the world. From the tropical waters of Thailand, all the way to the exotic shores of the Philippines, here are a few of our top picks for snorkeling and diving spots in Asia that will amaze and blow you away.
Warning: These photos may make you want to pack your bags and book a ticket to Asia!
- 1 Quick Answer: Best Snorkeling and Diving Destinations in Asia
- 2 Raja Ampat, Indonesia
- 3 Palawan Islands, Philippines
- 4 Kerama Islands, Japan
- 5 Komodo National Park, Indonesia
- 6 Similan Islands, Thailand
- 7 Sipadan, Malaysia
- 8 Jellyfish Lake, Palau
- 9 Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
- 10 Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
- 11 Andaman Islands, India
Quick Answer: Best Snorkeling and Diving Destinations in Asia
Here are our picks for the best places to snorkel and dive in Asia. Read on to learn more about what makes each location so awesome!
- Raja Ampat, Indonesia
- Palawan, Philippines
- Kerama Islands, Japan
- Komodo National Park, Indonesia
- Similan Islands, Thailand
- Sipadan, Malaysia
- Jellyfish Lake, Palau
- Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
- Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
- Andaman Islands, India
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Located in West Indonesia, Raja Ampat is one of those places where if you visit, you will feel like you have died and gone to tropical heaven. Between its lush jungle-covered islands down to it’s pristine white sandy beaches and hidden lagoons, this place is paradise!
What further adds to the beauty of Raja Ampat is the diverse marine life and the untouched coral reef systems.
Snorkeling here is like swimming through a tropical aquarium. It is home to over 75% different types of corals and about 1,300 different types of fish. The snorkeling here is really world-class and a must if you have the opportunity to do so.
If you’re a diver, Raja Ampat should definitely be on your list of diving destinations to go to. Diving here is an unforgettable experience filled with drift dives, WWII shipwrecks, and marine life such as manta rays, sharks, and large pelagics.
For the ultimate diving experience, opt for a Raja Ampat liveaboard experience! With a liveaboard, you’ll see the best of the area and maximize your time exploring its underwater treasures.
Looking for the best Raja Ampat liveaboards?
Check out our picks of the best budget and luxury liveaboards!
Palawan Islands, Philippines
Located in the tropical shores of the Philippines is a group of islands called Palawan. From island-hopping around the clearest waters you have ever seen to exploring lime stone karsts and lagoons, Palawan has a little bit of everything for everyone.
Its rich marine life is a big highlight here as people from all over the world flock to this popular tourist destination to enjoy the vast variety in marine life. Dive through sunken WWII shipwrecks, and swim along with sea manatees and other exotic marine life.
Kerama Islands, Japan
The Kerama Islands in Japan, located a few kilometers off Okinawa, are about 20 islands surrounded by coral reefs and the clearest waters imaginable. Humpback whales are known to migrate here during winter time, attesting to the richness of the waters.
As you can imagine, the Kerama Islands is a haven for water activities. Snorkelers flock here due to the abundance of sea turtles and unique seascapes. Butterfly fish, lion fish, and various types of sharks are known to grace the waters of the Kerama Islands, making it a haven for snorkelers.
For divers, there are 30 excellent dive sites in the area. The crystal water will astound any first-timer to the islands. You can expect to swim with sea turtles, and admire vivid coral (60% of Japan’s coral species can be found here).
This is a beginner-friendly spot for anyone who’s new to the beauty of the underwater world.
Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Apart from the fact that they have dragons lurking around in their islands, the diving in Komodo National Park is some of the best that we’ve done in Asia.
The marine life was rich and diverse, making every snorkeling session seem like we were exploring an alternate universe. Everywhere we looked, there was something interesting and unique to see from colorful reef fish, sea turtles, sharks, and giant manta rays.
I fondly recall hyperventilating over the fact that we were snorkeling in the middle of the sea as around 12 giant manta rays swam around us. It was absolutely magical!
Some excellent dive sites in Komodo Island include Batu Bolong, Tatawa Kecil, and Manta Point. Given how remote the area is, a liveboard is the absolute best way to make the most of your time there and get some world-class diving in.
Whether it’s a short five-day trip or an extended 11-day one, a liveaboard will get you to the best diving in Komodo.
Want to learn more about liveaboards in Komodo?
Check out our guide!
Similan Islands, Thailand
Although Thailand has many stunning reefs to explore, one area that stands out is the Similan Islands which is frequented by many liveaboard dives.
Made of nine islands, the Similan Islands offer 25 exciting dives for divers of all levels. Marine life is abundant in this area, and you’ll likely spot manta rays, sharks (reef and leopard), turtles, and barracudas among others.
Elephant Head or (Hin Pusar) is known to be one of the best dive spots in the area due to its intricate maze like rocks composed of swim-throughs, channels and gorges reaching depths of over 40m.
Diving isn’t the only thing that the Similan Islands are known for as the snorkeling here is also world-class! Swim in the clearest waters and enjoy the wide variety of marine life from turtles to rare types of fish and coral.
For those who want to pack in a lot of action on a short trip, consider a liveaboard adventure. On a liveaboard, you’ll typically be able to do three dives a day, as well as a possible night dive. A short Similan liveaboard can range anywhere from two to five days, making it ideal for a short but amazing diving getaway.
Ready to dive into the waters in Similan Islands?
See our picks for the best liveaboards!
Located off the coast of Malaysian Borneo is the island of Sipadan, which is known to have some of the best scuba diving in the world.
This diving mecca in Malaysia is the tip of a pinnacle which is about 600 meters from the seabed. A wide variety of sharks, turtles, and barracudas are common sightings here, making it the ultimate playground for underwater enthusiasts. If you’re lucky, you might have the experience of diving in a barracuda vortex at Barracuda Point!
In order to preserve its beauty and protect its abundant marine life, the amount of diving in Sipadan is regulated so if you want to venture out here planning your trip ahead of time is essential.
Jellyfish Lake, Palau
Located in Eil Malk island off Palau is a marine lake which used to be connected to the ocean.
What makes this place a unique place to visit is the fact that there are millions of golden jellyfish n the lake. Over time, these jellyfish have lost their sting due to the fact that there are no natural predators.
While there is no actual diving or snorkeling to be done here, this is undeniably a special location to visit. Imagine yourself swimming through this lake surrounded by millions of these jellyfish. Incredible!
To get some top-notch diving as well as visit to Jellyfish Lake, choose to go with a Palau liveaboard. Diving in Palau means experiencing some awesome wrecks, seeing large pelagics, and seeing some of the 1,500 fish species and 700 coral species in the area. It’ll be a memorable for sure!
Get to know more about liveaboard diving in Palau.
Read our guide to the best Palau liveaboards!
Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
Known as one of the best dive spots in the Philippines, Tubbataha National Marine Park is frequented by underwater enthusiasts from all over the world.
This atoll reef is densely populated with various marine species including 100-meter perpendicular walls, lagoons, and pristine coral reefs. Sightings of sharks, turtles, and manta rays are common here. If night diving, navigating strong currents, and great visibility are things that excite you, then this destination is definitely for you!
As the Tubbataha Reef is quite remote, a liveaboard is the only way to visit it. A Philippines liveaboard trip usually lasts about a week and features the best diving you can find in this island archipelago. Great way to pack in some awesome diving!
See the best of the Philippines diving with a liveaboard!
Check out our picks for the best budget and luxury trips
Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
The stunning islands off the coast of Southern Myanmar is largely undiscovered and underrated — which adds to its whole appeal.
With more than 800 islands, the archipelago consists of untouched reefs and islands. You will often see whale sharks, grey tips, barracudas, and manta rays lingering around the areas. Snorkel through untouched waters and incredible reefs while being surrounded by palm fringed beaches.
Insider’s Tip: One of the best ways to explore the Mergui Archipelago is to combine it with a visit to the Similan Islands! Opt for an extended Similan liveaboard, which includes Myanmar in its itinerary. This week-long liveaboard will essentially have you exploring two destinations on one trip!
Andaman Islands, India
Popularly known for its pristine beaches and world-class diving, the Andaman Islands in India is a stunning place for scuba diving and snorkeling. Despite being part of India, this group of islands is only located 150km away from Indonesia and 190km from Myanmar.
Between its mangrove-littered waters, stunning beaches, and lush jungles, the archipelago is frequented by divers and beach-goers despite its remote location. Large groupers and napoleon wrasse often frequent these seas as well as other large pelagics.
Havelock and Neil are two of the best areas to dive in, with Havelock itself being home to 25 dive sites. With so many dive sites in the Andaman Islands, this is an awesome diving destination for divers of any skill level.
Whether you’re a hardcore diver or someone who enjoys exploring the shallow seas via snorkeling, Asia is the perfect place to enjoy pristine paradise like islands and unspoilt reefs.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next tropical getaway!
PS: Liveaboards are an amazing way to have a diving adventure! Not sure what to expect from a liveaboard trip? We’ve got you covered with our guide to liveaboards.
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