We are now able to offer a good range of diving opportunities from Kota Kinabalu. Dive programmes ranging from one boat dive to three boat dives per day, as well as wreck dives and night dives, and also non-dive programmes such as snorkelling and kayaking are possible.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP for short) lies just off the coast from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, but it is still overshadowed by the more established diving locations in the region.There are few places in the world able to combine the modern facilities of a bustling city with a stunning tropical marine paradise rich with history and marine life just 8 minutes away with speedboat.

On the Reef


TARP covers 50 square kilometres and was gazetted as a national park in 1974 with Sabah Parks, a government body appointed to protect the state’s fauna, flora and marine ecosystems.

Anemone Fish


Gaya Island is the largest and also the most interesting of the five islands in TARP. The 15 square kilometre island is mostly uninhabited other than a stilt house village located on the Eastern shore. On the Northern side of the island are a couple of 5 star resorts – Gayana Eco Resort and Bunga Raya Resort – and set in a secluded bay is the Downbelow beach house Dive Centre.Gaya is a wildlife enthusiast’s melting pot of species, some of which are endemic to the island. Proboscis and macaque monkeys, snakes and lizards, hornbills, tropical birds and insects thrive on the island.


A combination of climate and geology delivers remarkably complex biodiversity throughout Borneo, and this is clearly visible above and below the ocean. The waters of TARP have abundant and fascinating marine life as well as stunning soft corals. Dive sites within the park are predominantly sloping coral reefs to around 30 metres, mangrove areas and sand flats with plenty of fish life and macro subjects for all levels of divers and photographers. There are more than 50 dive sites close to Downbelow’s dive centre, including the inner and outer reefs of TARP, as well as nearby islands such as Pulau Tiga, and offshore dive sites offering World War II wrecks. The great variety of multi-level diving provides something for everyone.


Nudibranch at Bulijong Bay


Sheltered from the prevailing North-East or South-West winds, the inner reefs offer year round diving and are a haven for macro critters. Nudibranchs are common with many rare and varied species regularly encountered.

Nudibranch on the inner reef




Seahorses, ghost pipefish, frogfish, stargazers, mandarin fish, moray eels, lionfish, and many crustacean species are among the usual suspects, and divers can frequently interact with cephalopods as they slowly fin along the reef. Visibility ranges from 8 to 20 metres.

Hydroids at Anjung Gaya


Baby Lionfish on a sponge vase at Anjung Gaya


Hydroids at Anjung Gaya 1



They are a kaleidoscope of colour and texture – large gorgonian fans, table corals, barrel sponges and staghorn corals are abundant. With slightly better visibility due to their location, these outer sites tend to attract pelagic species such as giant trevally and large schools of batfish, with occasional visits from eagle rays and blacktip reef sharks. All this only 8 minutes from the island dive centre. Turtles are often encountered on inner and outer reefs year round and when schooling krill mass through March and April, whale sharks can occasionally be seen feeding around the islands.


Learn to Dive in Sabah, with Downbelow’s PADI dive courses to suit every need. Learn to dive or continue your SCUBA diving training with PADI dive courses in Kota Kinabalu, taught at the Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre. They provide professional, well-structured and enjoyable programmes to all who want to learn to dive. Downbelow offers PADI courses for the absolute beginner through to the professional diver. High staff to student ratios ensure students learn to dive at their own pace in the knowledge that they are in the best of hands. Save time in the classroom and complete your theory prior to your trip to Borneo. You can complete all of our PADI dive course theory via the PADI eLearning portal. With Downbelow’s PADI eLearning you can register online NOW and begin your SCUBA diving adventures immediately, leaving the fun part for your holiday. Get your certification in KK, then continue your dive holiday at one of the top dive sites in the world – Pulau Sipadan located on the East coast of Sabah – just a 45 minute flight, plus 70 minute drive, plus 45 minute boat transfer, from KK. All PADI SCUBA diving programs and courses require you to be medically fit to dive. Please contact us for details and more learn to dive information. At Downbelow, safety is paramount. They adhere to PADI standards and procedures and follow British HSE guidelines. The staff team are of international standard, and offer courses in various languages including English, Malay, Chinese and French.

Duration Diver/Non Diver 1 Person 2 People 3 People
1 day – 3 boat dives in Tunku Abdul Rahmen Marine Park (TARP) – includes lunch Diver $137 $137 $137
2 days – 6 boat dives in TARP – includes lunch Diver $270 $270 $270
3 days – 9 boat dives in TARP – includes lunch Diver $410 $410 $410
PADI Open Water Course 3 to 4 days – 9 dives (4 in TARP) – includes lunch, required PADI Materials and PADI Application Fees Diver $500 $500 $500

Prices per person in Australian Dollars and valid 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 (E.O.E.) Refer to General Booking Conditions

All prices include return transfers from your hotel in KK (including Tanjung Aru and Sutera Harbour), boat transfers, park and jetty fees, all necessary equipment (except dive computer), refreshments – free flow water / tea / coffee, freshly cooked lunch and dives as described.All courses include required PADI Materials and PADI Certification Fees NOTE: WWII Wreck dives require diver level of minimum PADI AOW with 40 logged dives and a check dive in TARP required on the day prior. A dive computer is mandatory for the Wreck dives. Offshore Daily Diving Packages are subject to 6 pax booking and good weather conditions. Contact us for prices for the full PADI courses rather than the referral. Note that you will require an additional 2 days to do the theory as well. Other PADI courses which can be carried out here include Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Enriched Air Nitrox, Divemaster and Instructor, just to name a few. Contact us for details

Photographs copyright to Dive Down Below (Manukan Island) and Phil Youdale (all photos taken around Gaya Island)

Scuba Diving in Borneo