Malaysia (Sabah/Borneo): Barracuda Point
Located north of the world’s famous dive destination of Sipadan, the Barracuda Point dive site has strong currents that bring in lots of nutrients, which leads to an overwhelming number of swirling Chevron Barracudas arriving for a meal. The geography of the place consists of a wall which leads to a 20 meter ledge. This ledge is covered with resting sharks, and one must also look out for turtles, bumphead parrotfish, eagle rays, and grey reef sharks. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit.
Malaysia (Sabah/Borneo): Mabul Island
Mabul is the dive base located around 25 kilometers on the north of Sipadan. As there are no hotels on Sipadan, all the dive resorts and backpacker’s longhouses are located on Mabul island. Its macro paradise adds to the usual coral reef offerings. Muck Diving is quite famous here giving divers the opportunity to examine the macro critters up close and is therefore ideal for underwater photographers. Check out this post for more on backpacking Indonesia.
Bali: Liberty Wreck
Bali’s most famous diving site “Liberty Wreck”, is the result of a WWI cargo ship loaded with guns ahead of WWII that was torpedoed by Japan on 11th January 1942. Desperate attempts to pull it towards Singaraja were made by 2 US destroyers. However, the ship was badly damaged and flooded with water as result of which it had to be abandoned on Tulamben beach. The Liberty was shoved to its current location by the volcanic eruption of Gunung Agung. The eruption also caused the hull to break into two pieces and presently it lies only 30m from Tulamben beach.
This diving site is ideal for divers of all experience levels and is the only dive site in Bali that can become quite crowded due to the day trippers arriving from south. The wreck lies at a depth of 5m and 10m while during high tide it has a depth of 20m to 28 m. The wreck has a length of 120m majority of which is unbroken, so divers cannot really enter the wreck to get a glimpse of boilers, guns, toilets, and anchor chain to name a few. There are hundreds of things to do in Bali!
Presently the wreck is covered by corals and the presence of numerous holes gives enhanced opportunities for divers to explore. Hydroids, featherstars, crinoids and soft corals can be found here apart from the rich fish life that consists of approximately 400 different varieties of fish on this wreck alone. The medium sized fishes in this site have become quite tame and will swarm around any diver in the shallow waters. Divers can have an amazing experience at night amidst the swirling flashlight fish and Spanish dancers.
Thailand: The Similans
Diving is one of tthe top things for people backpacking Thailand. Situated off Khao Lak’s coast or approximately 100km on the northwestern side of Phuket, “The Similan Islands” provides the best diving site in Thailand. The 9 granite islands are covered by thick jungles, bordered by crystal cerulean waters and the powder white beaches. Since this area is protected, no camping is allowed here. Below the surface, divers can encounter giant boulders, caves, walls and deep canyons. It’s also a good place to go before heading Thailand’s full moon party.
Most of the diving (such as Richelieu Rock) is done by liveaboards departing from Khao Lak and Phuket for a few days of dive cruise. The many dive sites further north around the Surin islands also offer exciting and superb diving experiences.