Syncing Up and Sinking In: Southeast Asia

All of Southeast Asia is a bouquet. Colors, cultures, foods, and experiences where no two are the same, yet somehow, they sync together beautifully in a small patch of land sitting on the Pacific. Unfortunately, unless you’re a backpacker fresh out of college, you’re typically not going to be able to have a couple months off to take it all in. For most of us, the summer vacation is but a temporary respite from the office, for others, to explore, we make it a lifestyle. Either way, we’re at work, and a quick trip is what we get. With summer officially in full swing, let’s check out five dive regions in five countries that will get you going.

Tinh Khanh Hoa

A diver explores Madonna Rock. Photo by Deepblu User 印度舞男

Vietnam, while more popularly known by travelers for its vast, beautiful landscapes, history, and food, also plays host to the coastal province of Khanh Hoah. A beach town that can be used as much for its resorts as its great fish markets, this place is probably the best in the country when it comes to finding a great dive spot. In a region not as well known to divers as others in the area, places like Madonna Rock and Murray Beach are a perfect place to kick off a dive vacation.

Mindoro

A turtle sneaks on Monkey Beach in Mindoro. Photo by Deepblu User Momorang

While many head out to the Philippines for a dive experience that is both cheap and memorable, a lot of the spots become crowded during the summer months, and with good reason. Dive spots around the island nation are all equally beautiful, and resorts all around offer discover dives. It’s a great place to start. Cebu and Bohol are popular destinations, but if you want something that’s known to the “in crowd,” check out Mindoro, where you can find reefs, wrecks, walls, cenotes, and just about anything you want, for any experience level and any checkbook.

Tulamben

Take a deep breath before freediving the USS Liberty wreck. Photo by Victor de Valles

It’s hard to surprise anyone with a choice in Indonesia. After all, it has been the spot for vacationing in the region for decades. Dive spots, dive shops, and dive instructors line every shore in a way that’s fairly uncanny. That said, one dive region that offers just as much in the form of a lake dive as it does a reef dive is Tulamben. With a diverse array of wildlife, mysterious wrecks, and even aquarium diving, there’s a lot that can be done in just a short time here.

Koh Tao

A whale shark gets shown around Koh Tao by its friends. Photo by Deepblu User 강인묵

Thailand has a lot to say for what goes on in the land-locked areas sitting at the very top, but its 3,218 kilometers of coastline is no small deal. If you’re coming in from Bangkok, as many do, it’s great to take a bus all the way to the bottom if you have the time. Along the way, you can stop in several coastal cities and villages that are all worthwhile. For a great dive, take a boat over to the Island of Koh Tao for a few days. The rainbow of natural color to be found on the island is a prime reflection of the combination of local flavor and foreign influence that will give you an experience you’ll not soon forget. It’s not a bad place to find a party, either.

Tioman Island

Good visibility and colors that pop. Photo by Deepblu User Poh Chee Voo

Last but not least, a country that consists of a peninsula and an island territory is bound to have great dives, but did you know that the island of Borneo has so much to do we wrote a whole article about it? Since we’ve already done that, let’s talk a bit about the coast of Pahang, or, right off of it, where Tioman Island jets out of the Pacific. In a small area of about 468 square kilometers, one can take a peaceful break away from Kuala Lumpur while not breaking the bank to venture out too far. Many come for the cave dives, but wrecks and artificial reefs have really brought the dive spots of this area to life. If you’re looking for Malaysia’ little slice of small island living, this is your spot.

That’s about it for now, but like Southeast Asia, I could go on forever. If you have some favorite spots in that region drop a review over on Planet Deepblu and let us know what’s up!

  • Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor