You’ll probably agree with us that our vast oceans are like a distinctive universe of their own, where some of the most beautiful – and strangest-looking – things in the world are floating around waiting to be discovered.

Blessed with year-round sunshine and the sheer variety of marine creatures, it goes without saying that we have some of the most spectacular dive sites in this part of the globe.

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Asia is home to attractions including sharks, whales and sunfish, so here’s a list of our 7 top diving locations in the region to add to your bucket list.

1. Komodo Island, Indonesia

About 400km (250 miles) away from the tourist magnet Bali, this location is probably best known as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest living lizard.

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What you may not know is that Komodo is also one of the most vibrant diving sites on the planet, as it harbours a wide variety of marine life – from dolphins, dugongs, eagle rays, mantas, sunfish, and whales to blue-ringed octopus, ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses.

2. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

 
 
 
 
 
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This collection of four larger islands and more than 1,500 islets is located off the northwestern tip of Indonesia’s West Papua province.

Raja Ampat, the crème de la crème of diving destinations, holds the highest recorded diversity of fish and coral on Earth – an astounding 537 coral species and 1,074 fish species, according to The Nature Conservancy.

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A common sighting here are the fusilier fish, which swim as part of a slick group – moving in a zigzag pattern at such high speeds that it appears as if they are moving in perfect unison.

3. Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia

 

Sipadan, situated on the island of Borneo in eastern state of Sabah, is Malaysia’s only oceanic island and has been rated as one of the top diving sites in the world.

Here – one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth – you will be treated to a visual feast by nature as it is not uncommon to see sharks, turtles and schools of fish, such as barracudas and jacks swimming around at any given time.

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If luck is on your side, you might even spot hammerhead or thresher sharks; this exciting encounter is what entices scuba divers to travel to Sipadan from all over the world.

Another of its unique features is the “turtle tomb” – an underwater limestone cave with many narrow tunnels and chambers containing the remains of green sea turtles that become trapped and drowned.

4. Shark Point, Thailand

This treacherously titled location, just off the coast of Phuket – known to the locals as Hin Musang – is suitable for all diving abilities – particularly those with an adventurous inclination.

Shark Point is where cuttlefish, morays, scorpionfish, snappers and squid, as well as reef and leopard sharks, congregate amid the hard and soft corals.

The shark species found here are considered safe to swim with, but diving at this spot is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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5. Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar

This archipelago, made up of about 800 islands, remains something of a hidden diving gem tucked away from the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, it is popular among seasoned exploratory divers as it features huge boulders, caverns, tunnels and drop-offs.

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This rugged diving spot is known for its proliferation of sharks, manta rays, barracudas, tuna and red lionfish.

6. Soneva Fushi, Maldives

If you are looking for a luxury diving holiday then this private island is the answer.

Start your day with adrenaline-pumping dives in the morning before retreating to indulgent spa treatments in the afternoon and delectable – and sustainable – fine dining in the evening.

Here, fusiliers, jacks, mantas, snappers and tuna are found in abundance while the honeycomb moray eel, nurse shark and stingray occasionally pay a visit.

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7. Kerama Islands, Japan

When it comes to Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido are probably the first things that spring to mind – yet diving in the country may not cross your mind at all.

However, the Kerama Islands, located southwest of Okinawa, play host to more than 70 diving sites.

They are largely well protected thanks to the local communities, which respect and safeguard the natural oceanic ecosystem around the islands while embracing tourism at the same time.

Typical sights here include the cuttlefish – known to many as chameleons of the sea – as well as larger sea creatures such as humpback whales and manta rays.

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