Top Diving Spots and Dive Centres in Asia to Get Your PADI Certification

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Image of a person in a diving suit under water

Still cannot get over how excited your friend who just came back from a fabulous diving vacation was?

If you always wanted to try scuba diving and explore the underwater world, but never really gave it a serious thought, it’s time that you do.

Scuba diving is perhaps the most calming and fascinating sport and can improve your breathing, increase your strength and flexibility, and lower your blood pressure, among other positives.

However, don’t just decide to dive anywhere – after all, you don’t want to see muddy waters and bits of garbage when you are underwater. Here are the best diving spots in Asia and centres where you can get a PADI certification. Book your dive and get ready to explore a new world!

1. Sipadan Island, Malaysia

An underwater image of barracudas while scuba-diving at Sipadan Island, Malaysia

Source: Instagram

Remember the whirlpool of fish you saw on National Geographic the other day and went, “Wow!” Witness that and a lot more at your dive at the only oceanic Malaysian island Sipadan.

Be mesmerised by the coral wall on an extinct undersea volcano that rises 600m from the continental shelf. With over 3,000 varieties of fish, unidentified ocean life, colourful coral and crystal clear waters, this dive is said to be one of the best not only in Asia but also in the world.

Chances are you will spot not one but dozens of cute turtles paddling their way through the calm waters. No wonder this diving site has won many awards. To preserve this natural wonder, only 120 people are allowed to dive here every day.

Best time to dive: April-December

Diving centres: There are many options but some of the most well-known ones include Sipadan Scuba and Seaventuresdive.

How to reach: Once in Malaysia, take a flight to Tawau, followed by a road trip (around one hour) to Semporna. From Semporna, take a one-hour-long boat ride to Sipadan.

Related: Save on Your Holiday Budget: Check out These 6 Vacation Rental Properties in Asia

Which credit card to use: Your credit card can’t go diving with you but it can certainly take you there. Book your flights and accommodation online with the DBS Woman’s World MasterCard for 10x points on your spending.

2. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

An underwater picture of a school of scat fish with a diver in the background

Source: Instagram

Raja Ampat, known for its untouched beauty, is an archipelago of over 1,500 small islands. The four main islands are Waigeo, Misool, Batanta, and Salawati. Considered ‘global epicenter of tropical marine bio-diversity’, Raja Ampat Islands are any diver’s dream come true. Warm temperatures, great underwater visibility, a massive variety of corals and of course, unending schools of colourful fish make it a popular Asian scuba diving spot. Look out for seahorses and Manta Rays that are the highlight of this diving site. This will surely be the most memorable dive of your life!

Best time to dive: All year long

Diving centres: Get in touch with Papua Paradise Eco Resort, Koranu Fyak Bungalows, Wobbegong Dive Adventures or Yenkoranu Homestay.

How to reach: Take a flight to Sorong and hop on a liveaboard from there.

Which credit card to use: Earn 2 miles for every S$1 spent online on your HSBC Revolution Credit Card. Read our review of the card here.

3. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

An aerial view of an island amid the blue ocean at Andaman and Nicobar, India

Source: Facebook

This gem of a destination comprises over 500 islands and is perfect for a great diving experience. Its exotic beaches, mysterious tribal areas, and tropical climate have been attracting tourists from all over the world.

When it comes to diving, you can spot an octopus or lionfish on your night dive at Lighthouse, ultra-cute dugongs (vegetarian mammals) at Mac Point or reef sharks at Junction. This Indian island is perfect for new as well as veteran scuba divers. Plus, it is quite affordable so it’s worth every penny.

Best time to dive: December-April

Diving centres: Companies such as Barefoot Scuba and Dive India offer some amazing diving experiences.

How to reach: Take a flight to the capital Port Blair. Foreign visitors who want to travel to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by sea need to get a 30-day permit in advance from the Ministry Of Home Affairs.

Related: Warning: Top Scams to Watch out for When Travelling in Asia

4. Tioman Island, Malaysia

Image of a diver sneaking up to a Buckbeak Turtle under water at Tioman Island, Malaysia

Source: Instagram

Sparse population, dense jungles, cobalt waters and rainbow-like colourful marine life – Tioman Island is all this and much more. Head to this exotic Malaysian island for an adventurous vacation and an unforgettable scuba diving experience.

Turtles, sharks, sea fans, shipwrecks, and a whole lot of surprises await you at this diving site with calm waters. Psst…the island is duty free so don’t go slow on that beer!

Best time to dive: March to May and from September to November

Diving centres: B&J Diving Centre and Tioman Dive Centre are among your options of diving centres.

How to reach: You can reach Tioman by road and ferry from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur both. Alternatively, you can also take a flight from Kuala Lumpur’s Subang Airport.

Which credit card to use: If you’re interested in collecting miles, then make sure you get the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card. The card gives you additional miles for travel bookings and offer attractive sign up bonus for new applications!

5. Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

Image of the ruins of a vessel under water with fish swimming around it, at Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

Source: Instagram

If you dare to have a tête-à-tête with the big guys of the underwater world, head straight to Tubbataha Reef. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to over 10 species of sharks; in fact, it is the world’s largest concentration of white tip reef sharks!

Exceptional corals, superb clarity, and rich marine life make this protected area the most famous diving spot in the Philippines. Be prepared to spot endangered turtles, leopard and hammerhead sharks, manta and eagle rays and lots of other exciting sea creatures.

We bet this will be the most exciting vacation you would have had in a long time.

Best time to dive: March to June

Diving centres: Approach liveaboard operators listed here to arrange for your dive.

How to reach: Take a domestic flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan and then take a 10-12-hour ride by sea to Tubbataha.

Read this next: 5 Best Ski Resorts Around the World and When to Go

Be sure to get a travel insurance policy to ensure a stress-free holiday!

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