Top Langkawi Dive Sites
Some of the best dive sites in Langkawi are in Pulau Payara Marine Park which is located 30kms south of the main island of Langkawi. The Marine Park water area has four small islands - Pulau Payar which is the main island there and three other islands Pulau Kaca, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Segantang.
Regular boat tours operate from the Kuah Jetty taking divers to the Marine Park. It takes about 1 hour by boat to reach the Marine Park from Kuah town.
There are 15 dive sites in the vicinity of the islands Pulau Payar, Pulau Pulau Kaca and Pulau Lembu. The usual dives are limited to few of these 15 sites. From the Marine Park, a separate dive boat takes the divers to these sites. It takes about 5-7 minutes to reach out to these sites from the Marine Park Beach or an offshore floating pontoon.
There are 4 other dive sites near the island Pulau Segantang which is 13kms away to the west of Pulau Payar Island. They offer deeper dives and better visibility. Average depths in these dive sites vary from 15 to 18 meters. The usual visibility is between 10 - 20 meters, in some areas the visibility can be even less than 10 meters. There is a steep rock at one of these sites that plunges about 20 meters into a sandy bottom. This is where you can often see Barracudas and even Nurse sharks.
Several excellent dive sites are also located within few minutes boat ride from the Cenang beach of Langkawi. They are ideal for those looking to optimize on time. And there are couple of sites which are a bit far away but the rewards there are awesome in terms of visibility and diversity of marine life.
The dive sites are home to over 270 types of fishes both large and small, many different types of marine creatures including invertebrates, mollusks, nudibranches etc as well as over 50 different types of hard and soft corals including boulders, stony corals, tree branching corals, spongy corals and more.
Here are some of the top dive sites in Langkawi and surrounding areas:
Dive sites at Pulau Payar Marine Park
Following are the most popular dive sites in Langkawi and many scuba operators offer packages for 1 or 2 dives.
House Reef Dive Site
This is a reef site in the vicinity of the Pulau Payar island itself. The diving depth varies from 15 to 18 meters. The visibility in general varies from 10 to 20 meters, but can sometimes get poor. This is a place frequented by Mustafa, a resident giant barracuda who is a favorite of the divers. His favorite food is sea perch. You will also likely meet Toby which is a large grouper who will shy away the moment he sees you.
You can spot a range of fishes here including moray eels, rabbitfish, angel fish, butterfly fish, clownfish, lion fish, puffer fish and lot more. You will also see many other marine creatures like the seahorse, mantis prawn, ghost pipefish etc on the sandy bottom.
Coral Garden Dive Site
This is one of the finest and most sought after dive sites in Langkawi. It is located at the southern end of the Payar Island. It takes about 5 minutes to reach the dive site by boat from the Payar Island Marine Park Beach. On a good day, you will see a mesmerizing garden that looks like a vast valley of orchids, but covered with beautiful white, blue and purple soft corals. The varieties of soft corals include the lovely Dendronephthya, branching tree corals and more.
But other than colorful beds of corals, you will also come across amazing array of marine life here. You are likely to see giant groupers, snappers, bannerfish, angelfish, moon wrasse, jellyfish and lot more. If you are lucky, you may even stumble upon a giant cod or box fish. There are also Titan Triggerfish in the water area here who are known to sometimes attack the divers if disturbed, but I haven't heard of any such cases here.
You will get the best view of the garden of Eden as you go down to the sandy bottom and move around. The average depth of Coral Garden site is about 15 meters. The usual water visibility is about 10 meters but can increase to even 20 meters on a good day.
Grouper Farm Dive Site
This dive site is located next to Coral Garden at the southern end of Payar Island. As the name suggest, you come here to see schools of giant groupers. The site is also home to many snappers and barracudas. But you need to be lucky to get a good view of all these as water visibility here often remains quite poor. With luck, you will get visibility of up to 10 meters or so.
This is a reef site which is covered with hard corals and goes down to a depth of 15 meters. You will also find many different smaller fishes who would be schooling together to save themselves from the larger fishes. The water is calm with barely any current thus making it easy for diving.
Kaca Sunken Boat Wrecks Dive Site
Kaca is a small island located just east of Payar Island at a short distance. This is the only site where the divers get a flavor of wreck diving. The site has wrecks of several fishing boats that were confiscated by the authorities and sunk here.
After all the Marine Park is a fisheries protected area since 1985. The wrecks in most parts have got covered with hard corals. You will find boulder corals, stony corals, many branching tree corals and even blue spongy corals having created a layer on the sunken boat wrecks which now look like artificial reefs.
The site is home to black tipped sharks (generally harmless), barracudas and snappers. You can also spot many other marine creatures and fishes like stonefish, pufferfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, clownfish, moray eels, lion fish, white cods, nudibranch, turtles, lobsters and so on.
The average diving depth here is about 15 meters. The water visibility varies between 5 to 10 meters. Sometimes the visibility can be really poor and you can't see much other than perhaps the shadow of a mast. Note that the sandy bottom at the site is full of sea urchins and therefore avoid laying down there.
Lembu Rocks Dive Site
Lembu Rocks is at the vicinity of the Lembu island which is located east of Payar Island and further off the Kaca island. It takes about 7 minutes by boat to reach the site from Marine Park Beach area. There is a large rock jutting out here. You can find many groupers as well as pufferfish and moray eels.
Pulau Segantang Dive Sites
Segantang island is located 13kms west of the Payar island. It takes about 20 minutes to reach from the Pulau Payar Marine Park Beach by a dive boat. This dive site is meant for more experienced divers who are looking for larger fish in deeper waters.
There are two large rocky outcrops here that go down to meet a sandy bottom at 20 meters depth. There is also a drop off to 26 meters at the Tyre Reef location. The rocky slope is covered with hard corals. You can find schools of jacks as well as groupers, barracudas, reef sharks, leopard sharks, red & mangrove snappers, moray eels, trevallies, jacks and even lots of sea anemones. You can also see many sea fans on the rocky wall at a depth of around 15 meters onwards. In the deeper waters you will also see black corals & whip corals.
If you have enough air, you can make a full circle around each rocky outcrop during each dive. The visibility at this site is much better than the other dive sites in the Marine Park. On a good day the visibility here can be up to 25 meters or so.
Under the Marine Park Jetty
Although this is not a formal dive site and does not require a boat to reach from the Marine Park Beach, is a great water area where you will find amazing concentration of fish. The jetty is where the boats dock. If you go under the water, you will see butterfyfish, bannerfish, redtails and more. As you park yourself and keep watching the underwater scene, you will notice how the landscape of fish change with time and schools of different species of fish come and go. This is also the place where you may meet with Mustafa, a large Barracuda and divers' favorite. Although he looks quite scary, but he is harmless and will be at ease with you.
Under The Floating Platform
There is a large floating platform about 100 meters offshore at the Pulau Payar Marine Park. This is where the boat tour operated by Langkawi Coral docks their boat. The beginners jump off from this platform and there is a treasure trove that you can discover in the water beneath the platform itself. You can sea moon wrasses, porcupine fish, angelfish, moray eels, Titan Triggers, Jacks and cods, and of course lots of colorful corals.
Dive sites near Langkawi's shores
Well, not all who are interested in diving may have time to spend the whole day for a trip to Marine Park from Kuah. If you are looking for some great diving experience near the shores of the main island of Langkawi which require far less transportation time, the good news is there are several such sites like Whitecoral Corner, Trevally Alley etc which are not known to many. Most of these sites are 10-20 minute boat ride from Cenang beach.
There are amazing soft coral gardens with underwater treasures like seahorse, pipefish, nudie, shrimps, clownfish, barracudas and massive groupers. The fan corals in the north of Langkawi are huge and it is only a 40min boat ride. The visibility is not brilliant but good enough to find all this amazing stuff.
More dive sites accessible from Langkawi
Although a bit far away, the following sites offer stunning marine life and corals. If you are looking for better visibility and far more depth, then these are the sites you should explore:
Pulau Perak Dive Site
This is a relatively virgin site located 115kms south west of Langkawi. Because of its distance and time it takes to reach there, not many operators offer diving trips to this island. East Marine Holidays is one such company which does offer dives to this island on request, but only in April and May. Once there, the experience is stunning. You can't get to the shore. But close to the shore when you jump off the diving boat, the drop off is about 85 meters and magnificent. The steep rocky wall of the island goes down almost vertically to the sandy bottom.
The water visibility here can be easily over 25 meters. You will be able to see beautiful reef corals on the rocky wall. On the southern side of the island you will find several large boulder corals some having heights of up to 40 meters. And there are abundance of marine life here including barracuda, snappers, Mackerel, Scorpion fish and lots of other coral fishes. The water around this place also has mammals like dolphins. There is a small jetty on one side of the Perak Island. But it's difficult to get on to the shore from the jetty although possible.
Koh Lipe - Tarutao Marine Park
Koh Lipe is a tiny island located just across the border in Thailand. It is part of Satun Province and only 30kms to the north of Langkawi. It is easily accessible from Langkawi. Daily boats leave from the Telaga Terminal at Telaga Harbor (but only between October to May) and takes about an hour to reach. Koh Lipe is at the edge of the famous Tarutao Marine Park which is full of exotic corals and marine life, and a divers' paradise.
There are 30 islands (mostly uninhabited) and hundreds of reef sites and also a wreck site around Koh Lipe that make the it an excellent place to plan your dives. Highlights here include the beautiful soft corals and the big stuff like the whale sharks, manta rays and more. Of course you will see plethora of other fishes including pelagic like the schools of barracudas, trevallies etc. Other sea life includes sea fans, bubble corals, demon stingers, mantis prawns, Octopus, Honeycomb Moray, Lionfish, Frogfish, Seahorse, Nudibranchs, Butterflyfish, Pipe Fish etc.
The current is typically tidal and can be mild to strong depending on the tide. The depths vary from site to site and can range from 5 meters to 40 meters.
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