Scuba diving in Sabah is one of the most sought after by divers all over the world. Located on the northern portion of Borneo Island, it is actually a state of Malaysia. Sabah has land borders with fellow Malaysian state Sarawak to the southwest and Indonesia’s Kalimantan region to the south. It is nicknamed the “Land Below the Wind” as the state lies below the typhoon belt of East Asia and only suffers from the occasional tropical storm.
Due to this geographic location Sabah has diving all year round, unlike the islands surrounding west Malaysia which have to shut for 4-6 months of the year due to the treacherous sea conditions. Whether you are visiting kota kinablu and plan to dive in the local marine park or will be travelling to the east coast to visit such gems as Mabul and Sipadan you can rest assured whenever you come you will be able to take the plunge and explore Sabah’s beautiful reefs.
Diving kota Kinabalu
Diving in Kota Kinabalu at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP) is just 10-15 minute boat ride from the Jesselton Point jetty. TARP encompasses five islands of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, and Sulug. There are more than 25 dive sites in the park all offering year-round diving.
The best months to dive TARP are April-November where the water temperature is a constant 28-29 degrees Celsius and visibility varies from around the 8-15metre mark. Being a protected marine park TARP benefits from stunning coral reefs and a diverse number of marine creatures.
From December until march the water temperature drops to around 25 degrees Celsius at depth and the visibility can drop to around 5-6 meters at times. The plus point about choosing this time of year is that the colder water and krill can bring whale sharks into the park. There are several sites which give you the best chance of bumping into these majestic creatures. Could it be your turn next?
Diving out of Semporna
Just like kota Kinabalu on the west coast you can dive on the east coast all year round with the best conditions being from March to September at the height of the dry season. Rainy season tends to be from late November to March with slightly rougher sea conditions and slightly less visibility on dives. The water temperature is a consistent 27-29 degrees Celsius all year round too.
Semporna offers the largest choice of diving in Sabah with access to the Tun Sakaran Marine park which consists of 8 islands and 2 reefs. Close by to the park are the islands Mataking, Pom Pom, Pandanan and Timba Timba. Then to the south you have Mabul, Kapalai and Sipadan
There is no best time to visit to see certain creatures as most of the macro life seems to be present all year round, as do the huge green turtles which frequent the Paradise 1 dive site at Mabul. The same goes for Sipadan and its massive schools of Barracuda, jacks and Bump head Parrot Fish. You will also find healthy numbers of green and hawksbill turtles and numerous white tip and grey reef sharks. If you’re lucky enough there is always the chance of bumping into a whale shark or Scalloped Hammerhead.