Diving in and around Langkawi
I have heard people commenting that Langkawi is not a great scuba diving destination. My personal experience has been quite different though. Where else can you find over 270 species of fish & marine life, over 50 different types of hard and soft colorful corals, and about 20 different dive sites close to each other?
I can agree that Langkawi may not probably figure in the list of world's top five scuba diving destinations, but it has enough to even attract the hardened divers from all over the world.
One of the concerns for some is the underwater visibility in Langkawi. The natural sediments in the Straits of Malacca where Langkawi and its dive sites are located, makes the water visibility poor. Straits of Malacca is a narrow water channel and one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. This makes it even harder to clear up the water. While all these are facts, if you can time it right and choose the right place, you can still get a visibility of up to 25 meters.
Langkawi is also a great diving site for the inexperienced or the beginners because the water here has no current and there are virtually no shallow water reefs. As you scuba dive in deeper waters, you can see many larger fishes & marine life and their amazing variations & concentration that are rarely seen elsewhere in the world.
Where are the top dive sites in Langkawi?
The most popular dive sites are located at Pulau Payara Marine Park which is a cluster of islands and water area located 30kms south of Langkawi. It takes about an hour by boat to reach the Marine Park from Kuah town. Several boat tours operate from Kuah town and offer full day excursions to the Marine Park. The tours include scuba diving and snorkeling packages. If you choose a diving package, you can go for one or two dives in a day. The usual package includes two dives. Night dives can also be arranged on request. Once you reach the Marine Park, a dive boat will take you to few of the several dive sites that are located in the nearby water areas.
Even if you have no diving experience and taking the boat excursion only to see the marine life from the shore, while on the ferry the operators will still approach you and offer an introductory diving lesson or Discovery Scuba dive at an attractive rate. They will provide a one-on-one guide and hand hold you to your first ever experience in scuba diving.
There are however several great dive sites near the shores of the main island of Langkawi which very few know about. Most of such sites can be reached in about 10-20 minutes by boat from the Cenang beach. If you do not want to go as far as the Marine Park to spend the whole day to experience a dive, then this can be a great solution. These days a dive center operating out of Pantai Cenang beach offers such dives as well as diving lessons. If you like to explore more diving sites and opportunities in Langkawi, I can suggest couple of other areas like the Pulau Perak to the south west of Langkawi and Tarutao Marine Park just across the border in Thailand, that also offer stunning corals and marine life.
Check out Top Langkawi Dive Sites
to know about all the great dive sites that are accessible from Langkawi and what you get to experience there.
When is the best time to dive in Langkawi?
Langkawi has a tropical climate and therefore the temperature does not vary much through out the year. The daytime air temperature varies between 27° - 34° Celsius during the whole year. The nighttime air temperature can fall to 22° - 26° Celsius. The water temperature remains more or less constant throughout the year and varies between 29° - 30° Celsius. However in December/January, it can drop by a couple of degrees.
So in general, it is possible to dive in Langkawi year round. However, some months get affected by heavy rains. June to September time is the monsoon season and it rains intermittently almost on all days. In addition during August & September, there is a strong Southerly wind that flows. So the boat journey from Kuah to the Marine Park may be quite choppy during this time.
The dry and the best season for diving in Langkawi is between November to March when the visibility is also the best. This is also the peak tourist season, so the rates climb up.
The mid-season is between April to June when there may be light showers.
The average depth at the sites varies from 15 to 18 meters.
Top Diving Packages in Langkawi
There are packages for both certified and non-certified divers and even for beginners. The diving excursions take place from Kuah town. There are organized boat tours that will take you to the Marine Park for the dives.
Certified Dive Package
The usual certified dive package will offer two dives, one on arrival and one after lunch. Once you reach the Marine Park, a dive boat will take you to the nearby reef sites. The dives take place around 15 dive sites in the vicinity of the islands Pulau Payar, Pulau Kaca and Pulau Lembu, which are all part of the Marine Park. Depending on the operator, the package includes either packed lunch which you can have at the Marine Park Beach, or a buffet lunch at the offshore floating Reef Platform. You will also get leisure time to enjoy the beach and relax before heading back to Kuah.
Special trips are arranged to ferry adventurous divers to Pulau Segantang which is further 13kms west of Pulau Payar. Here the water is deeper and visibility is better and you get to see a lot more variations of marine life along a rocky wall that slopes down to a depth of 20 meters. Another special trip for certified divers is to Pulau Perak which is about 70 miles south west of Langkawi. This trip takes place in the months of April and May only.
Introductory or Discovery Scuba Dive
This is meant for the beginners or the first time divers. A dive master will guide you on a one-on-one basis and hand hold you through the dive session. You will get to learn about the ear equalization, mask clearing, hand signaling, breathing & finning techniques before the hand held dive session takes place. It's a great opportunity for the beginners to experience the underwater life for the first time and make a step forward towards certified diving.
Top Dive Operators in Langkawi
There are several operators in the island who offer boat tours and diving packages.
Visit Top Dive Operators
to know about the best operators in the island including their detailed offerings and rates.
What you need to carry
For a person with average built, one doesn't actually need to carry any gears or even suits for a dive in Langkawi. The well known operators will provide all the gears and even flips to fit into your size as part of the package. However, I do recommend that you consider the following in order to get the best diving experience in Langkawi:
Carry your own snorkel mask and breather, although it's provided by the operator
Carry a dive watch to keep track of your dive time. This is not provided by the operator
Carry an underwater camera or buy a disposable one at Kuah town or Airport.
Check the air pressure in the tank before the dive. If you are planning for more than two dives or plan to circle around the rocky outcrops at Pulau Segantang, this is crucial.
Share your experience.