In Borneo most of the scuba diving locations are to be found in Sabah, northern Borneo. Sabah is home to a range of popular diving locations including the following:-
- For World famous dive locations choose Sipadan or Layang Layang. Both offer diving along drop offs, sightings of pelagics and regularly feature in the top diving locations in the World.
- Muck diving at Mabul – Mabul may not have the stunning reef diving offered by neighbouring Sipadan, but it is compensated by offering some really cool muck diving being home a wide variety of unusual critters including nudibranchs, mandarinfish, frogfish and lots more.
- The most accessible diving is offered at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – the Marine Park is easy to visit from Kota Kinabalu and offers calm, sheltered coral reef dive sites suitable for beginners as well as offering chilled out diving for more experienced divers.
- For idyllic island resort diving check out Lankayan Island or Pulau Mataking. Both have just one Resort located offering a secluded stay, white sand beaches and diving along the reefs fringing the island.
If you are into wreck diving then check out the wrecks located in the waters near Labuan – the American Wreck, Australian Wreck, Cement Wreck and the Blue Water Wreck. Dive Centre(s) in Brunei typically offer diving trips to the wrecks.
The whale shark is considered the largest fish in the world and is often on the bucket list of divers for their dream sightings on a dive. The whale shark inhabits tropical and warm-temperate seas and we are lucky to have a Whale Shark migration season on the west and east coast of Sabah, Borneo although possible sightings are quite small in number. If you don’t get to see a Whale Shark during your holiday to Borneo, don’t worry. The tropical waters off Sabah are located in the Coral Triangle making them home to an amazing variety of marine life waiting to be seen. The following are locations in Sabah offer the chance to see Whale Sharks during the Whale Shark migration season (if luck is on your side):-
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Kota Kinabalu
Whale sharks come to feed on the plankton during the cooler months typically between November and February. Most years we have had a handful of Whale Shark sightings during a Borneo Dream snorkeling and scuba diving trip within the Marine Park.
Lankayan Island, accessible by boat via Sandakan
Whale shark sightings on Lankayan Island off the east coast of Sabah, Borneo are far from guaranteed. The whale shark season runs from March-May, when the sharks are migrating through the Sulu Sea, often passing close to the island to feed near the drop-offs.
Layang Layang, accessible by flight via Kota Kinabalu
Layang Layang is an atoll located 300 kilometres north-west of Kota Kinabalu. The island offers world-class diving along its drop-offs with regular sightings of pelagics in its waters. The diving season at Layang Layan is from
March to August and divers, of they are lucky, may also encounter whale sharks during their migration season.
For guaranteed sightings of Whale Sharks, we recommend you visit more famous locations in the world-renowned for Whale Shark sightings such as Ningaloo Reef in Australia. Find out more about the distribution of Whale Sharks.
The quick answer is “yes”. Sabah has a tropical climate and as part of this, we will typically have some tropical rain later in the day on most days. This rain is warm, often a welcome relief and for most activities does not stop play. Specifically for our scuba diving and snorkeling activities from Kota Kinabalu:-
- It is still safe to snorkel and dive when it’s raining.
- You won’t get cold if it rains as the sea temperature, for most of the year, is a toasty 28C – 30C. We also provide all our divers and snorkeling customers with 3mm tropical wet suits for thermal protection.
- The tropical marine life will still be there to see as you enjoy your scuba diving or snorkeling activity.
Whilst Sabah’s tropical climate means there’s a good chance it will rain at some point during your holiday, it’s this climate that also supports the rainforest, and it’s inhabitants, found here. Most days in Sabah, especially during the Dry Season, start off with blue sky, sunshine and a calm breeze with a chance of rain typically later in the day, evening or night time. As long as you come on holiday prepared for a hot, humid and sometimes wet tropical climate you will have a great time! Find to more about Sabah, and Sabah’s climate, on Sabah Tourism’s web site.
Most watersports trips depart from Jesselton Point Jetty (https://g.page/JesseltonPoint) in central Kota Kinabalu. If you are staying at a city centre hotel or guest house you will often find it far quicker to walk to Jesselton Point. If you are staying at hotels or resorts such as Shangri-La Rasa Ria or Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa then I would certainly grab a taxi.
Flying after diving or going to Mount Kinabalu Park can be risky, and you need to know and understand this. Anytime you have been scuba diving, you should not go above 300 metres above sea level until you have met the following requirements:
- A minimum of 12-hour surface interval was recommended for the single no-decompression dive.
- A minimum of 18-hour surface interval for multi-day repetitive diving.
- Substantially longer than 18 hours after diving involving compulsory decompression or using heliox and trimix.
Further information can be found on the Divers Alert Network site or DAN – Please click here.
We often get asked, Can I have a scuba refresher? or Do I need a scuba review? The simple answer is it is up to you and your abilities. There is a massive difference between a diver who has not dived for 2 years and had logged 75 dives to a diver who completed his diving course 2 years ago and has not dived since. I’m sure many of you would now be quoting me section from various diving agency manuals and instructor guides, telling anyone who has not dived for 6 months should take a refresher or scuba review.
Well, this is great advice. But that is all it is. At Borneo Dream, we have seen literally thousands of divers, new and old, since we began in 2006. And what I would say is this: If you are very comfortable in the water, you are in control of your own destiny, such as ascents and descents, with no assistance, and you are able to control your position in the water, buoyancy. Then we are happy to take you leisure diving in Kota Kinabalu.
It is worth noting that on leisure diving or fun dive trips, your guide, whether it be a Divemaster or Instructor. They are there for the group as a guide, not your personal assistant. He is there to keep the group safe and show them items of interest in the water.