Situated within the South China Sea, the Spratly Islands tropical archipelago consists of over 100 small islands and reefs surrounded by rich fishing grounds. With parts claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines, Spratly Islands are strategically located along several primary shipping lanes within the central South China Sea areas. A large majority of these islands are either uninhabited or closed military bases off limits for casual visitors.
However, some of these islands like the Layang Layang, Itu Aba and the Philippine occupied Pag-Asa Island are having small civilian communities and can be visited by determined travelers. Layang Layang, which is controlled by Malaysia, is the only island within the Spratlys having an airport with regular flights. Featuring excellent scuba diving resorts, the other islands of Spratlys can be accessed through irregular cargo services from respective mainlands.