Watersports in Malaysia

Find information on watersports including surfing, diving, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking and more. Where to go to enjoy each activity and information on clubs...

Malaysia's extensive coastline of warm, clear and often coral-rich water makes it a world-class country for all kinds of watersports. The country is thought to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Most beaches have well developed facilities including equipment hire and lessons for canoeing, kayaking, diving, snorkelling and windsurfing.

Windsurfing and Surfing

The South China Sea offers good conditions for both beginner and experienced windsurfers. There are many schools along the coast which offer lessons to surfers of all levels. Keen windsurfers flock to Tanjung Resang, near Kampung Mawar to enjoy the challenging big waves and choppy seas, when the area has strong north-easterly winds. Tanjung Jara Beach, near Terengganu on the country's east coast, is known for its golden sand and powerful waves, which makes it a popular location for windsurfing. This beach is also suitable for snorkelling, diving and kayaking. Other good locations for windsurfing include the island of Pulau Perhentian, which lies 21 Km off the coast of Terengganu.

There are surfing waves when there is a north-easterly wind, usually between December and February. The best surfing spots in the country are mostly along the east coast in the state of Sabah. It is also possible to surf on the island of Langkawi, though the waves here tend to be fickle.

  • To view surf forecasting links for Malaysia: Click here

One of the most renowned surfing areas in Malaysia is the small village of Cherating, near Kuantan on the east coast. Kuantan is a four-hour bus trip from Kuala Lumpur and there are several daily buses. The area has a number of beaches which have consistently good waves during the monsoon season between November and March, making it a good destination for beginner and experienced surfers alike. The biggest swells usually occur between mid-December and February. The village has a number of surf schools which offer lessons and tours as well as board rental.

  • For more information about surfing lessons: Click here


Malaysia has a reputation for having some of the best diving in the world. Its warm clear waters are very popular with divers. The seas have a rich and varied marine life including a diverse range of fish, turtles and sharks. It is possible to dive on coral reefs and blocks, amongst shipwrecks and to do deep dives. There are dive schools all along the coast. They are well equipped and certified by all the major dive agencies, such as PADI.

  • For a list of diving shops and schools: Click here (select "Diving" from the list)

The island of Pulau Perhentian is surrounded by clear seas and coral making it perfect for diving. Another location is Pulau Kapas, which is six kilometres off the Marang coast and whose waters are home to turtles and fish, as well as soft and hard coral. For divers keen to explore shipwrecks, the island of Pulau Sibu is a good choice as there many wrecked ships and Chinese junks in its waters.

The waters of the east coast are often rough with reduced visibility during the monsoon, between November and March. It is best to dive outside of this season.

Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting

There are numerous canoeing and kayaking opportunities in Malaysia: from sea kayaking along the coast to canoeing in lakes and rivers. Sungai Bernam on the Bernam River is a popular location for white water kayaking and rafting. For sea kayaking and canoeing the east coast is very popular as are the islands of the country's Marine Parks.

There are also a number of lakes which are popular spots for paddle sports: Tasik Temenggor, Tasik Kenyir, Tasik Chini and Tasik Putrajaya.

The Malaysian Canoe Association is the official organisation for paddle sports. They arrange kayaking and canoeing competitions.

  • For a brief guide to kayaking in Malaysia: Click here

The Padas River (grade three) and Kiulu River (grade two) are the main white water rafting rivers in Sabah. Rafting is becoming increasingly popular and many rivers in the country have rafting companies which offer tours and equipment for hire.

Other popular white water rafting spots include Sungai Selangor (grade three) in Kuala Kubu Baru and Sungai Sungkai (grade two) in Perak.

  • To find out more about rafting in Malaysia: Click here

Marine Parks

Malaysia's long and beautiful coastline includes two dedicated marine parks which are popular with watersports enthusiasts and tourists alike. They are coastal national parks:

  • The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is close to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital. It is made up of five islands which are famed for their soft white beaches and coral reefs. For further information: Click here
  • Pulau Payar Marine Park is a one-hour boat ride from Langkawi and is made up of a number of uninhabited islands. It has many reefs and is popular with scuba divers

The Department of Marine Park Malaysia has more information about Malaysia's Marine Parks