SeaFocus - scuba diving reviews, images and information
Diving Layang Layang, the Spratly Islands | Malaysia

Layang Layang is a man made island that sits on a long string of reefs in the middle of the South China Sea. Collectively called the Spratlys, these islands and atolls are much coveted by neighbouring countries.

The Malaysians put foot to "soil" and claimed Layang – or Swallow's Reef – by building a small naval outpost there. Nowadays, the Royal Malaysian Navy shares the island with divers who want to see what this isolated atoll has to offer.

Tales of pelagics are rife. At certain times of the year hammerheads are said to appear in massive numbers while at other times there are impressive quantities of other pelagic species. Constant currents across the reef attract big animals – small white tips, large grey sharks, dog tooth tuna and giant trevally along with clusters of striped barracuda and schools of jacks. There are turtles on the reef tops and families of juvenile sharks under bommies.

There are small critters too, like juvenile razor fish, arc-eyed hawkfish and ghost pipefish hiding in the corals. Inside the lagoon, the sandy bottom is the place to hunt out mantis shrimp, tiny gobies and the Picasso trigger fish.

Layang Layang dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life turtles
Top dive site The Valley
Seasons All year
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 26 – 31º C
Deco chambers Labuan, Singapore
Flights to Kota Kinabalu then transfer via provate plane to the resort

Layang Layang Resort


Getting to Layang Layang is easy enough as the resort charters a private jet to transfer guests from Kota Kinabalu. The resort is a quirky place but definitely not one with a luxury tag. The rooms are built in long rows rather like an old-fashioned American motel, which can be a little noisy and although they are very comfortable, will not be to everyone's taste.


For people who like to see "big stuff" this is an ideal destination. There's always a pelagic or several on every site on every day. The seas here can be rough at times and poor sailors should think about that as you can't escape the conditions. Having said that, we dived inside the lagoon on a day when the water was choppy and had a great time hunting for critters in the sand.


We travelled to Layang out of season, which meant we missed the hammerheads that usually arrive around Easter. The benefit of that was an uncrowded resort and the diving was still excellent with plenty of reef shark encounters. The operation is well run, buffet meals were delicious and facilities were good.
Layang Layang resort and dive centre
Locate Layang Layang with google maps
View Larger Map

Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

The digital edition is on iTunes.

Buy the print edition direct from SeaFocus here.

IMAGES on this page are available as prints. Take a note of the name then go to the photo order form.