New discoveries especially great one always attract attentions. They steal the limelight — and draw attention away from what is already known. When Jacques Cousteau made his now famous comments about Sipadan Island, off the coast of Sabah in East Malaysia, he awakened the whole international diving community to this previously unconsidered area. Then came word of the stunning walls at Layang Layang atoll and the wrecks off Labuan Island, and it suddenly seemed to the outside world that serious diving in Malaysia began and ended with Sabah. But that certainly isn't the case far from it. Just off both coasts of the Malay Peninsula are clusters of small, tropical islands, with crystal seas, brilliant coral reefs and superb diving conditions. One of them Tioman is considered to be amongst the most beautiful tropical islands in the world, and was used as the setting for the famous Hollywood movie, South Pacific. Local divers have been enjoying these islands for many years, and lack of major tourism development has kept them quiet, peaceful and undisturbed. They're real gems, waiting to be ... rediscovered.
Although totally different in their topside personalities, both the east and west coasts of Peninsula Malaysia have great diving — if you know where to look
Until the late 80s, most recreational divers in Peninsular Malaysia were locals and expats living on peninsula, or in Singapore. The upside was that they had a very pleasant ocean environment all to themselves. The downside was that operators and services were few and far between, access to some of the better sites was very limited and information was scant. If you lived outside the peninsula, it was hard to get any information at all. Then, in the early 1990s, the Malaysian government started supporting and promoting scuba diving as a tourist attraction, actively going out and telling the international diving community what was available, and encouraging resorts to set up diving operations. At first, diving on the peninsula was completely overshadowed by the spectacular dive sites in Sabah notably Sipadan and Layang Layang but that's starting to change. Word is spreading that the peninsula has some great sites, and the all-round charm, convenience and holiday appeal of these places more than compensate for any minor shortcomings in the diving.
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