The crystal-clear waters and abundant tropical fish and coral of Malaysia make snorkeling and diving a must for any underwater enthusiast. This is particularly true of Sabah’s Sipidan Island Marine Reserve and the Peninsula’s east coast, with islands like the Perhentians, Redang, Kapas and Tioman.
Dive shops, for example in Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu and Sarawak’s Miri, offer all-inclusive, internationally recognized certification courses, ranging from a beginner’s open-water course (around RM1300), right through to the dive-master certificate (RM2200). If you’re already qualified, expect to pay RM180 per day for dive trips including gear rental.
Most beachside guesthouses rent snorkelling equipment for around RM20 per day. Some popular snorkelling areas mark out lanes for motorboats with buoy lines – stay on the correct side of the line to avoid a nasty accident. If you’re not sure where it’s safe to swim or snorkel, always seek local advice. Never touch or walk on coral as this will cause irreparable damage – besides which, you risk treading on the armour-piercing spines of sea urchins, or a painful encounter with fire coral.
Windsurfing has yet to take off in all but the most expensive resorts in Malaysia, with the notable exception of Cherating. Its large, open bay and shallow waters provide near-perfect conditions during the northeast monsoon season.