This city seems to have it all and it makes yet another list – this time for diving destinations in the Asia Pacific.
KOTA Kinabalu makes the
Agoda.com list of the seven best sites for diving in Asia-Pacific. The list, which was based on in-country tourism expertise and customer review data, has noted Kota Kinabalu and its surrounding areas in Sabah as a much sought-after diving destination for both domestic and international travellers.
Blessed with warm water, tropical climates and an abundance of interesting dive sites – from pristine coral reefs to sunken warships – locations throughout Asia Pacific welcome divers from around the world that come to explore new sites or return to old favourites.
“Many of the world’s best dive sites are located in South-East Asia,” says Chris Mitchell, dive journalist and co-author of Thailand’s Underwater World. “There are an endless number of sites for all levels of diver. Bali’s amazing Menjangan Island, the plethora of rare marine life along the coastline of Anilao, Philippines, and the Maldives, where you can be in your resort an hour after touchdown and diving the next morning, are some of my favourites.”
In addition to this, most diving locations in Asia offer PADI courses from beginner to master levels at great prices, and the food, scenery and cultural experience can’t be beat, no matter which country you visit.
To wrap up, Agoda.com gives comprehensive hotel offerings throughout the region that will hopefully ensure guests spend less time worrying about their accommodation and more time concentrating on where to take the next great dive.
Here are seven of Asia’s best sites for diving, and a few hotel suggestions to maximize the enjoyment of any trip.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
The area around Kota Kinabalu offers plenty of great diving spots in some of Asia’s most colourful waters. Whether you stick to diving just offshore, go northeast up the coast and explore the tip of Borneo, or head southwest to dive down to Labuan’s four famous wrecks, there’s something here for every level of diver.
If you’re staying at the award-winning Bunga Raya Island Resort (5-star), the activities don’t have to stop when you’re done diving. The beautiful blue bay that the hotel looks over is perfect for kayaking, and for a fun jungle trek, all you have to do is turn 180° and start walking.
Guest say: “We were wonderfully impressed by the view and the surroundings. The infinity pool and the beach were amazing and the water in front of the resort was crystal clear.” – Dong, Canada
Time spent at the Gaya Island Resort (5-star) means truly getting away from it all. Only accessible by boat, guests have easy access to amazing dive sites in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, as well as thick forest and deserted beaches on neighbouring islands.
say: “We had an excellent stay from beginning to end. The staff were friendly and helpful. The rooms were fantastic – spotless and comfortable. The quality of the food is very high.” – Neil, UK
Ko Lanta, Thailand
Located in Thailand’s famous province of Krabi, Ko Lanta is not as crowded or as built up as other hotspots in the area – yet. Drawn by warm, clear water, and plenty of great dive sites, visitors can choose a speedboat to get in several different dives in one day, or opt for a slowboat that heads to a single spot but offers a more social experience with your fellow divers.
Pamper yourself with 5-star luxury at the award-winning Pimalai Resort and Spa in Kan Tiang Bay.
Guest say: “This is a perfect place for a romantic couple, great scenery, great villa and perfect service.” – Tradsin, Thailand
Stay at the Lanta Cha Da Resort (5-star), which offers a variety of rooms amid a lush expanse of garden in the shade of swaying palm trees.
Guest say: “Very good hotel, everything is perfect. Personal, kind and respectful staff, peaceful place, romantic for a couple.” – Jean, France
Puerto Galera & Batangas, the Philippines
The turquoise water and endless reefs have long drawn divers to the tropical archipelago of the Philippines, which offers a nearly limitless number of sights above and below the water. A strong maritime transport culture ensures easy trips to many of the best sites, be it a small group excursion or a large party dive.
The Atlantis Dive Resort (5-star) in Puerto Galera lies within a pristine Unesco Biosphere Reserve and offers a diverse range of reef dive sites for every skill level.
Guest say: “Overall I had a great time, the staff in the dive centre were fantastic.” – Sharla, UK
If staying at the Eagle Point Resort (3-star), you’ll be in the middle of some of the Philippines’ best dive sites, all noted for their abundant, colourful marine life.
Guest say: “Fantastic. I stayed for three nights. Captured the beautiful sunset both at the restaurant and at the balcony in our room. It was so relaxing, no stress at all.” – Mary, Norway
Whitsunday Islands and Lizard Island, Australia
Australia needs no introduction as one of the world’s top diving destinations. The unparalleled Great Barrier Reef and almost 60,000km of combined island & mainland coastline provide an astounding number of sites to dive, from old shipwrecks to (caged) encounters with Great White Sharks.
Visit Daydream Island Resort and Spa (4.5-star) to get the most out of the legendary Whitsunday Islands and its dozens of world-famous dive sites.
Guest say: “This was an amazing resort. The staff were always smiling and extremely friendly. They had a living reef all around the resort with sharks, all kinds of fish and sting rays.”
A stay at Lizard Island Resort (5-star) will reward you with close-up marine encounters as you hand-feed huge but docile Potato Cod at the world famous Cod Hole.
Guest say: “A paradise for snorkelling around the island. The staff in the sports club are very kind and passionate about their job.” – Changliang, China
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Seemingly crafted specifically for scuba divers, Bora Bora’s signature coral reef encircles a pristine volcanic lagoon filled with marine life. Most pleasingly, there’s only a three degree difference between average low and high water temperature throughout the year, making diving a perfect pastime any time of year.
The Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (5-star) offers access to the island’s best diving spots and is a member of Green Engage, the group’s worldwide sustainability program that regulates environmental impact.
Guest say: Thanida from Thailand praises the hotel for its superb atmosphere and amazing location.
After diving with manta rays, lemon sharks and turtles at the Bora Bora Pearl Resort (4-star), you can work with the on-site tattooist to design a traditional Polynesian tattoo.
Bali and Lombok Indonesia
Indonesia’s iconic island of Bali and its neighbour Lombok are smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of the country. As the world’s largest island archipelago, it’s no surprise that it also has some of the best scuba diving anywhere.
On Bali, stay at the Mimpi Tulamben Dive Resort (3-star), which offers easy access to dozens of top dive sites, including the island of Menjangan with its large reef flats and slow currents.
Guest say: “The staff were very pleasant and helpful, the dive centre had good equipment for hire and the dive guide was excellent.” – John, Australia
On Lombok, stay at the Vila Ombak Hotel (4-star), situated on one of the Gili Islands, a popular area with divers of all levels who come to dive with sharks, manta rays, and turtles.
Guest say: “One of the best places to stay in Gili Trawangan. It has a nice beachfront location and cosy outdoor atmosphere. The room was clean and staff were friendly and helpful.” – Audrey, Australia
If one were to describe the perfect tropical paradise, chances are it would exist in the Maldives. Stunning blue water, endless white sand and then things start to get really beautiful once you head underwater. The biggest draws are colourful coral and a staggering amount of marine life – everything from friendly fish to manta rays to the gigantic whale shark.
Boasting one of the best-equipped dive schools in the country, Bandos Island Resort (4-star) can provide support, equipment and transport to any of the top dive locations nearby.
Guest say: “My seventh stay. The dive centre and team are great – reef dive and the night dive are fantastic, with very professional staff.” – Edward, UK
The Adaaran Prestige Vadoo (5-star) offers a variety of special dive packages, and training courses are available from beginner’s introduction to a four day PADI rescue diver course.
Guest say: “Scuba diving is amazing and the island has its own dive point with friendly and experienced staff. All in all a great holiday destination and the hotel exceeded our expectations.” – Ji-Xiang, Australia