Snorkeling day trips or leisure diving day tours | fun IN or ON the water
One of the biggest headaches that watersports operators experience worldwide is how you can cater to both snorkelers and scuba divers on the same boat.
If you are a scuba diver, you want to go UNDER the water. On the other hand, if you are a snorkeler you prefer the leisure of seeing the amazing aquatic life of Kota Kinabalu from the surface.
With Borneo Dream, we have the answer! Let us take you on a typical day just last week where we had just that situation.
Aboard, twin-hulled “Elvis” we had 2 young ladies from Hong Kong on their first scuba –diving experience in Sabah, a very experienced couple of globe-trotting divers from the UK and 2 ladies on a backpacking tour of South East Asia who wanted to snorkel.
Elvis arrives at Jesselton Point Jetty, where we meet and greet a lovely British couple and our 2 brave scots. Donning our life jackets, we then head out to the secluded and idyllic Gaya Island Resort, just off the coastline where Borneo Dream also has an office. There we are met by our to Hong Kong girls, introductions are made, and off we go to the first site.
You never know how much fun you can have – IN or ON the water with Borneo Dream in Kota Kinabalu.
A short 15-minute boat journey over waters that can only be described as a millpond and dead calm arrives on the other side of the island for the first adventure.
We are not the biggest operator in the area, but we do have a reputation for giving personal service, so we provide 2 individual dive guides for our 2 sets of divers, plus a dedicated snorkel guide for our snorkelers.
The area that we choose for the first site is perfect for what we are about to do. A gently sloping reef that starts just a few metres below the surface looks super-enticing. From the boat, we can see the top of the reef arcing down into the blue, and the conversation between the guests is excitable as reef fish can already be seen from the bow of Elvis.
As the divers have their safety briefings, the snorkel girls get into the water with our guide armed with the latest underwater fish identification slates. It’s time to play “spot the fish!”
Shortly afterwards, the 2 dive teams enter the water and descend to the top of the reef and then down the gentle slope to a depth of about 16 metres.
The water isn’t cold, and one of our Borneo Dream Mares short-wetsuits certainly will suffice, although some guests prefer the long suit versions and we have those too.
Cruising along the bottom of the reef, which is seamlessly contrasted by the ripples of white sand, our eagle-eyed guide and dream-boy Amir spots something shimmering in the sand. As we approach all I can see is a pair of eyes sticking out of the sand’s camouflage, but as we approach it becomes apparent that what Amir has spotted is one of the regions Blue-Spotted stingrays and he’s a big-boy too.
As divers and guardians of the environment, we are educated not to harass or tease the aquatic life but who can resist marvelling at one of Gods creations, “the master of disguise?” Sensing the shadow of divers approaching, the ray suddenly shakes off the sand, exposing his electric blue spots and heads on up the reef. Camera sounds click away, and we believe someone must have got a good shot of that.
All too soon, the dive time is up and we all surface. Again, the chatter of excitement and “who saw what” is rife as we pop-across to the neighbouring coffee shop for some light refreshment and toilet break.
An hour later, more adventures lay abound for the team as we head out to the “tyre heap”. Far more scenic than it actually sounds, this site was made many years ago, as an attempt to offer a new home to the growing number of reef fish along the reef edge.
In just 9 metres of water, the tires are formed into a virtually coral-encrusted lump. They have become home to some pretty incredible families of life living in harmony together in this underwater abode.
After many years underwater, some of the structure has started to perish, and we can see a black and white marbled juvenile moray eel sticking his head out of one of the holes. Again, nice to see but keep your fingers away from his mouth unless you want to give him a free lunch!
Many people think, and at one point our grandfather of diving, Jacque Cousteau said, this is the “silent world.”
In reality, this is not entirely true; From behind the tyres, we can hear shrieks of underwater laughter and so go to investigate. Our 2 Hong Kong divers are hysterical with laughter as we round the corner as they are getting a free manicure! There are literally hundreds of little cleaner shrimp dancing across their hands and fingernails with their hands on the rubber parts of the artificial reef. Natures little gift back to humanity!
Time for lunch, we head back to the coffee shop and enjoy some typical Malaysian fayre once more, with a choice of many local lunches. However, I always tend to go for the Chicken curry every time.
Over lunch, our snorkel girls are comparing notes on what they saw from the surface whilst our Hong Kong girls are still laughing about their free manicure, much to the amusement of the dream crew.
Last dive and snorkel site of the day sees us over the top of South point reef, a thin elongated reef-line, protruding from the outer edges on one of our 7 emerald islands.
One of the most awesome things about a snorkel or scuba adventure with Borneo Dream is that you never know what you will experience next. Rounding the coral edges’ outer lip, we are confronted by one of the largest Green Turtles I have seen in Western Borneo waters.
I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at this old boy’s age, although we do know that some of them grow to over 100 years old. We know that he is male and other than acknowledging that we are thereby looking up at us, showing fear or anxiety in our presence. We guess he must be used to getting visitors from time to time and is certainly not camera shy.
This turtle encounter totally thrilled the 2 Hong-Kong girls, who were again trying to talk to each other through their mouthpieces. Very funny…
As the afternoon draws to its conclusion, it is time to surface one final time, heading back to Gaya Island and then back to the mainland of Jesselton Point.
All have had a great day as re-bookings are made for diving adventures for the next day no sooner than we arrive back on the respective jetties.
Whilst this little adventure centres on what we do in and on the water, did you know that we also co-ordinate some truly spectacular land-based excursions too?
Please tune in to our next blog coming soon, where we take you on a virtual trip of the stunning Kinabatangan trekking adventure, river cruises and monkeys galore.
Until next time, much love,
Billy, Jo and the Dream Team xxx