my girlfriend and I are planning our next vacation in march / april 2023. We are thinking about going to the Philippines or Malaysia for 2 1/2 - 3 weeks, however, we cannot decide which destination better suits our requirements.
We are looking to do the following activities:
We want to see big, pelagic fish or wrecks and have little to no interest for muck diving diving (macro). From our research, Malapascua (Philippines; thresher sharks etc.) and Sipadan (Malaysia) seem to fit the bill. We have been diving all over the world (multiple times in the Maldives), so our expectations are set up pretty high in this regard.
2) Enjoying nice, sandy beaches (swimming, snorkeling)
We have the feeling that the Philippines have the nicer beaches (Boracay, El Nido). However, we did not exhaustively research this topic yet. Where are the nicest beaches in Malaysia located? What would you recommend overall?
3) Exploring the local culture
We would also like to include visiting temples and similar sights during our vacation (for instance in Cebu or Kuala Lumpur). Which country has more to offer in this regard?
Basically we are planning to combine two different locations within the same country for around 2 1/2 - 3 weeks.
So far, we have only been to Indonesia in South-East Asia. While being there, we really enjoyed being in Java (volcanoes, temples) and Bali (diving, beaches). Now, we are looking for a similar experience (with much better diving) in the Philippines or Malaysia.
We appreciate your help a lot and hope to find the right choice with your guidance!