Saturday, 30 Sep 2023

Best 6 Places To Scuba Dive In Sabah, Borneo

The Sabah coast in Malaysian Borneo is one of the best diving places in the world. Here you’ll find hammerheads, whale sharks and many other amazing creatures. Here are the best six places to scuba dive in Sabah, Borneo.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

You’ll only need 20 minutes to get to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park from Kota Kinabalu. This marine park consists from five small islands and it is one of the best places to dive in Sabah. The coral reefs surrounding the five islands and the shallow water make this spot ideal for diving beginners.

Among the rare sea life species you can find in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park there are mandarin fish and harlequin ghost pipefish. If you get here between November and February, you may find whale sharks and hawksbill turtles feeding on plankton.

Sipadan Island

Located in the Indo-Pacific basin, Sipadan boasts one of the most amazing underwater ecosystems in the world. The 3,000 species of fish and coral around this island have earned its reputation as being the best diving location in Sabah. Here you’ll also find the “turtle tomb,” an underwater chain of caves full of sea turtles skeletons.

As diver’s aren’t allowed to stay on Sipadan, you’ll need to find accommodation on Mabul Island or in Semporna. Local authorities try to protect the coral, so they only issue 120 diving permits per day. Make sure you book yours in advance!


This is one of the best-preserved diving sites on the globe. This underwater realm features walls that drop to 2,000 meters deep and even beyond that. This is the home of hammersharks, leopard sharks, silvertip, threshers and grey sharks. Thanks to the Malaysian naval base on the island, the waters are safe and there’s virtually no pollution.

Layang-Layang is available to divers only between March and October. In order to get your permit, you need to get in touch with the Layang-Layang Island Resort, which is also the only accommodation venue available here. Your only option to get to Layang-Layang is to catch a flight from Kota Kinabalu.

Mabul Island

Mabul island is one of the most popular dive destinations in Asia. Unlike Sipadan, Mabul doesn’t require dive permits. In addition, you can find several accommodation options right on the island, so you won’t have to put up with daily commutes.

Mabul is the paradise of photographers who want to practice their underwater macro skills. The continental shelf supporting the reef creates a perfect dive spot with depths of 25 to 30 meters. This venue offers amazing opportunities to admire cephalopods such as octopi, squids and cuttlefish.
You can get to Mabul via the gateway of Semporna. Mabul is very close to Sabah, hence its popularity among divers of all ages and skill levels.

Labuan Island

Labuan is a duty-free island located about 70 miles from Kota Kinabalu. Most travellers hoping between Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah stop on Labuan on their way. The main underwater attraction is the big number of shipwrecks in the neighbourhood of this island.

Both beginners and experienced wreck divers can explore the four biggest ship wrecks found at 30-35 meters depth. Two of these wrecks, the USS Salute and the Dutch SS De Klerk, were casualties of World War II. The other two wrecks are civilian, but this doesn’t make them less interesting.

The access to Labuan island is fairly easy. You can catch a ferry departing from Kota Kinabalu or from the neighbouring country of Brunei. One of the best things about Labuan is that it offers lots of exploration opportunities and things to do, other than the ones in the underwater world. This can be the perfect vacation spot for both novice and skilled divers.

If you need dive equipment to help you have the best possible experience, mares diving products are the way to go to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.