12 Best Islands in Asia to Get Your Scuba Diving Certificate

12 Best Islands in Asia to Get Your Scuba Diving Certificate

There are many islands in Asia to get your scuba diving certification, including Ko Tao, Pulau Sipadan & Gili Islands. Just take a pick for your diving course!

There’s probably no better place on earth to get your diving certificate than Asia – Southeast Asia to be more precise. That region is home to several of the best dive sites in the world and is still one of the cheapest places to visit.

The waters off the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, to name a few countries, are home to colourful reefs that provide a home to vast numbers of marine life. Other dive sites have been created, although involuntarily, by humans with the sinking of ships – these sites now offer great diving experiences as well, as they have been overtaken by corals, marine plants and all kinds of fish.

Diving is one of the most unhuman-like you can do, yet it’s incredibly rewarding. Think about it, submerging yourself in tens of meters of ocean water, surrounded by strange-looking and sometimes dangerous creatures, is not really what a human body was designed for. Even climbing a mountain or jump off a cliff could be considered as more “natural” things to do. That’s probably why the diving experience is so special. Humans love exploring new areas after all. And the fact that diving opens up a whole new world is something else that makes it such a remarkable and possibly even life-changing experience.

Let us now take a look at the twelve best islands in Asia to get your diving certificate.

1. Gili Islands, Indonesia

Image Credits: Mikaku

Also Read: Tips and Tricks Getting to Gili Islands from Bali

This archipelago of three tiny islands lies off the coast of the bigger island of Pulau Lombok, the eastern neighbour of Bali, Indonesia. The comfortably warm and crystal-clear waters that surround them offer year-round diving opportunities, but the best time to go and learn would be between May and September, which is the dry season. You’ll be able to see some of the more than 3,500 species of marine animals, including pygmy seahorses, sharks, corals and sea turtles.


2. Ko Tao, Thailand

Image Credits: David Rubin

Ko Tao, unlike its party-loving neighbour Ko Phangan, is an oasis of peace and quiet off the coast of Thailand. This hugely popular diving site is probably one of the better places in the world to get your diving certificate. You may even spot reef sharks or rays during your course. Additionally, Ko Tao is one of very few places on the planet where it is possibly to see whale sharks – their migration season is in March and April.


3. Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia

Image Credits: Bernard DUPONT

Located on the far east coast of Malaysia, the minuscule island of Pulau Sipadan is the only oceanic island in the country. It’s home to tropical resorts and surrounded by waters teeming with life. It is, in fact, one of the world’s richest marine habitats, home to millions of reef fish, sharks, dozens of sea turtles and barracudas. Pulau Sipadan has been featured as one of the top diving sites on the planet several times.


4. The Visayas, Philippines

Image Credits: dachalan

The Visayas are a central island group in the Philippines, which in itself is essentially a massive archipelago. The islands consist of tropical sandy beaches, palm trees and resorts, and are surrounded by excellent dive sites. It’s said that the concentration of marine life in the Philippines is higher than anywhere else in the world – of mollusks, clams and snails alone, there are about 5,000 species.


5. Phuket, Thailand

Image Credits: Earth-Bound Misfit, I

Also Read: Merlin Beach – Phuket’s Hidden Beach Paradise
Phuket [fzPrice]hkt[/fzPrice] is one of the Thailand’s most popular beach destinations. Scuba diving plays a big role in that – it’s one of the top diving destinations in the world. Phuket is a wonderful place to get your PADI diving certificate. Diving centres on the island have years, if not decades, of experience and their diving excursions take you to world-class dive sites.

6. Banda Islands, Indonesia

Image Credits: Georg Holderied

The 10 small islands that make up the Banda archipelago are one of few places in southeast Asia that are still mostly untouched by humans. There, the ocean is not subject to overfishing or development. The islands are all volcanic, making them extremely fertile; the waters are deep and home to a plethora of fish species. You may be able to see scorpion fish, hammerhead sharks, tuna and mandarin fish.


7. Andaman Islands, India

Image Credits: Louise Ireland

Also Read: How Scuba Diving Completes A Traveller

The best time to go diving around the Indian Andaman Islands is from October to May. Because the area has only recently been opened up to tourists, this is a place of unspoiled natural beauty. Additionally, the underwater topography of rolling volcanic hills is unusual in the world. Other than a vast variety of corals, the ocean is home to many large fish, from sailfish and black marlin to hammerhead and leopard sharks.


8. Wakatobi, Indonesia

Image Credits: Craig D

This is another world-class diving site in Indonesia. The name Wakatobi is compiled from the first two letters of the four islands that make up the archipelago, Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomea and Binongko. It’s wealth of biodiversity is shown in the fact that it’s located within the protected Wakatobi National Park. The best time to go diving is from April to December.


9. Kerama Islands, Japan

Image Credits: Diego Molla

Although Japan may not be the center of the diving world, it does offer some world-class sites. Especially the Kerama Islands, off the coast of Okinawa, are a surprising tropical paradise. Only four of the 22 islands are inhabited, leaving the rest as undiscovered wilderness. This is a great place to learn how to dive, because of the incredibly calm ocean, the abundance of colourful reefs, and the presence of marine life, such as cuttlefish, manta rays and humpback whales.


10. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

Image Credits: Nazir Amin

Also Read: Guide to Scuba Diving Bali the Dive Safari Way

Rated among the top five dive destinations on earth, the archipelago of the Raja Ampat Islands comprises no less than 1,500 islands. The number of marine life is staggering as well: there are more than 1,000 species of fish, about 700 mollusk species and 537 species of coral, which is 75% of all the known coral species in the world.


11. Tulamben, Indonesia

Image Credits: Matt Hobbs

Tulamben is located on the popular island of Bali in Indonesia. It’s one of the island’s most visited dive sites and the only one on this list that’s “unnatural”. The site came into being after the US Army ship Liberty was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in the Second World War. The wreck was soon overtaken by corals and a large number of tropical fish.


12. Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, Philippines

Image Credits: Jayvee Fernandez

This exquisite, but vulnerable site is made up of the North and South Atolls and a marvelous perpendicular ocean wall of 100 meters long. The site’s precious marine life and geology are the reasons it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Animals include 13 dolphin and whale species, 11 sharks and 600 other fish species.


About Author

Bram Reusen

Bram is a freelance writer, translator and travel photographer. He was born and grew up in a small town in Belgium and currently lives in a small town in Vermont, USA. He likes to try different travel styles and he has backpacked across Australia, cycled from Belgium to the North Cape and back, spent three months immersing himself in the Irish culture, hiked across England, climbed numerous mountains in New England, and visited many a handful of European cities. Besides writing and traveling, Bram spends his days reading, working out and trying to live a healthy life.