Best Dive Destinations Near Singapore [2023 Update]
If a trip down into the deep blue is what you seek, read on to check out some of the best dive destinations near Singapore you can consider when planning your next trip!
Underwater enthusiasts, it’s time to jump in. One of the many great reasons that make Singapore an ideal travel destination, regardless of whether for work or leisure, is the ease of heading to our neighbouring countries for a quick getaway. Here are the best dive destinations near Singapore, if not, the best diving sites in Southeast Asia.
You don’t even need to travel out of Singapore for a dive. There are two diving spots off of Singapore that’s only a boat ride away. Pulau Hantu, meaning “Ghost Island” in Malay, is just off the southwestern coast of Singapore. It comprises two islets: Pulau Hantu Besar (Big Ghost Island) and Pulau Hantu Kechil/Pulau Hantu Kecil (Little Ghost Island). Legend holds that this is where ancient Malay warriors would duel to the death, and there their ghosts wandered. But, the name could also refer to how the region between the two islets come and go depending on the tide. During low tide, you can even wade across the shallow lagoon.
The reefs at Pulau Hantu have remained vibrant even as they’re close to nearby refineries. When you dive you can still see the abundance of mushroom corals, where the clownfish and angelfish roam. If you’re lucky enough, you can even spot the giant clam and seahorses. No wonder Pulau Hantu remains popular for ardent fisher, scuba divers, and snorkelers; it’s one of the easiest Singapore diving day trips you can plan.
There are no regular ferry services to Pulau Hantu. You’d have to charter a boat from West Coast Pier. Rates may vary depending on availability, fuel prices, and others. However, you need to know that these boats are not intended for leisure trips and are not designed for comfort. You have to get past Immigration Control at West Coast Pier to get to the boat. They only accept IC (Singaporeans) and passports with FIN numbers (foreigners). They won’t accept any other photo ID accepted, and children need to bring their bus card.
If you’re more experienced, you can try and explore Pulau Jong, which is 3.5 nautical miles away. Local folklore tells us that the island was where the Malays attacked an invading Chinese junk. The captain (the Nakhodah) woke up as the pirates were about to board the junk. The captain yelled when he saw the pirates, and the yell was so haunting that the sea spirit turned the ship into an island.
Still brave enough to venture there? There’s a rocky reef around the island, where you can try and catch a glimpse of the marine wildlife on the reef. Black-tipped reef sharks have found a nursery there, and sea turtles forage amidst the seagrass on the western front. Though strong currents surround the island, so you’d have to be careful.
New divers should consider islands in Peninsular Malaysia like Redang, Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Tenggol and Tioman where waters are calm so you will get to explore healthy coral reefs, pinnacles and shipwrecks.
The Pulau Payar Marine Park of Langkawi is another excellent dive destination comprising of islands such as Payar, Kaca, Lembu and Segantang. This marine park offers exotic coral reefs and marine life. It also has the widest range of coral reef species in Malaysia. There is no accommodation at this marine park, so simply book a resort stay at Langkawi and take a 1-hour boat ride from there.
For more exciting experiences in Malaysia, head over to Sarawak to dive in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park. It has one of the greatest diversities of coral and marine life in the region.
Love an encounter with big fishes? Consider a swim at Sipadan Island, off the Western coast of Sabah, and surround yourself with reef sharks, turtles and barracudas. If you’re lucky, you may even chance upon some hammerhead sharks or whales!
Other locations in Malaysia include Mabul island; next to Sipadan island, this fisherman’s paradise is teeming with underwater life, Kapalai island; a tiny gem of an island where you can snorkel and shore dive for free (excluding dive equipment), and Layang-layang island where you can find a staggering 12 different dive spots on just this beach-less island alone!https://metroresidences.com/sg/serviced-apartments?sorting=PROMO
A diver’s paradise – that’s what Indonesia is known as in the diving community. It’s part of the Coral Triangle of the world, which means that 20% of the world’s coral reefs can be found there. From macro critters to the majestic manta rays, the islands of Indonesia offer a plethora of marine life for divers of any level.
Located right off the northwest tip of Papua, Raja Ampat is one of the most popular sites in Indonesia, and for a good reason. The fact that this collection of islands are remote means that divers are guaranteed pristine water and the location is home to the world’s richest marine biodiversity. Most of these resorts and boats offer Nitrox filling facilities, so we’d recommend taking an Enriched Air Nitrox Course before heading over. Getting there from Singapore can be a tad cumbersome, but we guarantee it’s absolutely worth it!
Diving at Togian Islands is comparable to Raja Ampat, if not more exciting with its clear water and hundreds of coral species. One of the best dive sites here is the aircraft wreck of a WW2 B24 Allied bomber. However, it is not an easy location to get to, so we suggest considering this trip over a long weekend to save yourself an additional day of leave.
Other dive sites to check out include Komodo Island, Pulau Weh, Bali and Lombok Islands for some spectacular dive experience. Do you know – Lombok is one of the few scuba diving sites in the world where you get to see both scalloped and great hammerhead sharks!
Comprising 7101 islands, here’s another country that brings fantastic dive experiences, from easy beach entries to deep wrecks.
Book a flight to Cebu, take a taxi to Maya, and a boat over to Malapascua Island for a dive with the Thresher sharks, Whitetip Reef sharks, Manta Rays, Blue Ringed octopus and more.
Enjoy wreck diving? Head over to Apo Reef & Coron! Book a liveaboard trip and dive at multiple wreck sites teeming with intriguing critters and dramatic scenery.
Also a popular dive destination, Puerto Galera is a marine sanctuary with diverse marine life and both hard and soft corals. One of its dive sites, Coral Garden is a favourite for those planning on doing a night dive.
Other dive spots in the Philippines include the Tubbataha Reef, Anilao and the village of Dauin where come April, you’ll be able to go diving to spot the different species of bright and beautifully ugly frogfish.
The “Land of a Thousand Smiles” offers more than just a shopping haven or white sand beaches. With the Gulf of Thailand located on the eastern coast and the Andaman Sea hugging the western coast, visitors are treated to stunning reefs, deep drop-offs and open ocean seamounts. (So make sure you have your SSI open water diving course certifications for these options!)
A trip to Phuket can connect you to the Similan Islands, King Cruiser Wreck and Shark Point for a varied dive experience.
Located in the Krabi Province, Koh Lanta is a peaceful getaway with friendly locals. From here, divers can head over to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, where whale sharks and manta rays are commonly spotted.
Koh Samui is another option, being a popular holiday destination for both an on-land and underwater vacation. Underwater, divers can expect to see a variety of macro life as well as jackfish, barracuda, turtles and hawksbill.
Other options for dive trips in Thailand to check out are the Similan Islands, Koh Tao and Koh Dok Mai; located in between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi (closest dive centre can be found in Phuket), this is a great spot to do some moray eel-spotting for those experienced divers!
So there you have it. Your list of great dive destinations in the not-so-far-away countries around Singapore. Time to whip out your dive computer as the waters of adventure await!