Top 10 Scuba Diving Sites Along the West Coast of Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Most divers come to Sabah, Borneo to go diving at world famous Sipadan on the south east coast of Sabah. What most visiting divers do not realise is that there are also some scuba diving gems along the west coast of Sabah. Within 45 nautical miles of Kota Kinabalu, the capital city on the west coast of Sabah, find stunning coral reefs, diving on WW2 wrecks and muck diving. With the west coast of Sabah forming part of the Coral Triangle you will also find a fascinating, and diverse, mix of marine life.
I have been diving along the west coast of Sabah for a few years now, on a recreational basis and as part of running my own scuba diving business (Borneo Dream) based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Based on this experience, and feedback from divers we have taken to the wide range of dive sites we visit, I have provided below a ‘Top 10’ dive sites worth visiting when you pass by Kota Kinabalu. All are accessible from Kota Kinabalu and show the mix of diving you can enjoy along the west coast. Our ‘Top 10’ dive sites are listed below and are in no particular order. Enjoy!
1 & 2. Clements Reef (near Sapi) & Soft Coral Garden (near Gaya), Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
We visit > 20 dive sites in TARP so choosing our favourites was hard. Eventually we decided on these two sites due to the beautiful mix of soft and hard corals. Both sites are located within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP) – the most popular diving location from Kota Kinabalu. Find gently sloping coral reefs from 8m – 25m, a riot of colours from a range of hard corals, soft corals, sponges and anemones and a surprisingly wide range of marine life so close to city life.
3. Edgell Patches, just 20 minutes by boat from Kota Kinabaluâ€¨
Edgell Patches is located just outside of TARP and home to deeper coral reefs. Dive around large coral covered boulders in the shallows which then give way to a sloping reef down to 35m. Full of fish life as well as a good variety of nudibranches and other critters. When we’ve had rebreather divers diving the deeper slopes of this reef they’ve spotted the odd 1.5m – 2m Black Tip Shark. Cool!
4 & 5. The Pinnacle & Barracuda Point – Pulau Tiga (30nm south of Kota Kinabalu)
Pulau Tiga is located 30nm south of Kota Kinabalu. We visit 8 dive sites near Pulau Tiga and these our are two favourites. Dive by large coral covered pinnacles, coral bombies and busy cleaning stations. The hard and soft corals are breath taking, including large cascades of barrel sponges and Gorgonian fans. Teeming with fish life (Barracuda, Fusiliers, Yellow Snapper), home to critters and the occasional mating cuttle fish. Enjoy being the only divers in the water.
6. Mayne Rock (30nm north of Kota Kinabalu)
Go diving a unique underwater landscape at Maybe Rock, located in Usukan Bay, with large white boulders raising 7m – 25m, surrounded by shoals of fish and adorned in hard and soft corals. Then dive along a pristine undulating coral reef home to juvenile Sharks.
7. WW2 Rice Bowl Wreck (30nm north of Kota Kinabalu)
The Rice Bowl Wreck is so-called because a cache of rice bowls was found in the bow when it was first dived. The wreck is ~150m in length and lies between 25m – 40m. Home to Barracuda, Yellow Snapper, Fusiliers and Nurse Sharks. The corals covering the wreck are stunning.
8. WW2 Upside-Down Wreck (30nm north of Kota Kinabalu)
A large WW2 wreck lying in an upside down position. This wreck lies slightly deeper to the Rice Bowl wreck. This wreck has good swim-throughs and is good for exploring. A popular choice with rebreather divers and technical divers.
9. WW2 Usukan Wreck (30nm north of Kota Kinabalu)
This is the deepest of the three at 35m – 45m and consequently only available to technical divers. The wreck is interesting and has a spectacular whip coral coverage that can give it a frosted appearance in a certain light.
10. Pulau Mantanani (Mantanani Island, 45nm north of Kota Kinabalu)
Mantanani is a tropical island located ~ 45nm north west of Kota Kinabalu, The shallow coral reefs surrounding the islands have plenty to offer and have wonderful visibility. Home to juvenile Turtles and some interesting muck diving. We run PADI Open Water Diver courses at Mantanani for groups during the ‘Dry Season’ – an amazing place to learn to dive.
Find out more about scuba diving along the west coast of Sabah at http://www.borneodream.com