Borneo Diving Adventure: Sipadan & Mabul
Borneo scuba diving in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) is considered the home of world class diving. Sipadan Island in Celebes Sea boasts of over 100 dive sites, including the renowned Barracuda Point. Mabul island, off the south-eastern coast of Sabah, is a macro diver’s dream destination. It is well-known as the world’s “muck diving Mecca”. Close to Kota Kinabalu, in the Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park are a cluster of five islands with interesting sites for diving and snorkelling.
Begin tour in Kota Kinabalu, with a walk around its National Park, before travelling to Sandakan. Visit the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre to witness the feeding of orang utans. Diving destinations include Lankayan Island, with 32 dive sites in Sulu Sea; Green and Hawksbill Turtle and whale sharks(Mar-May). And, Sipadan island in Celebes Sea known for hammerhead sharks and millions of techno-coloured reef fish. Also visit Danum Valley, to view Borneo's wildlife; including Orangutan and Proboscis Monkeys in the wild.
Borneo Diving Adventure An ultimate diving holiday in Borneo.
Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Lankayan, Danum Valley, Sipadan
(12 Days, Travel Any Day)
Day 1 – Arrive Borneo
Kota Kinabalu Meet and greet on arrival at the Kota Kinabalu Airport. After a warm welcome, you will be escorted to your hotel for 2 nights stay. The rest of your day will be scheduled depending on your arrival time and how tired you feel.
Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa (D)
Day 2 – Transfer
Sandakan After breakfast, continue 40 km overland journey to Poring, 1,500 ft above sea level, east of Kinabalu Park HQ. Explore tropical lowland rainforest and the jungle trail leading up to the treetop canopy walkways, suspended 41 meters above the forest floor across giant Mengaris trees (excludes camera/video fee). Take a swim in the hot springs before driving another 4 hrs to Sandakan on the east coast.
Sepilok Nature Resort (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Explore
Lankayan Resort After breakfast, proceed to Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre for a video show. Then take a short stroll along the boardwalk through the rainforest to witness the feeding of the orang-utans at 10 am.
Continue to Sandakan jetty for a boat journey to Lankayan resort for your 3-night diving and snorkelling adventure. Situated within the Sea Turtle Corridor, Lankayan Island is also a nesting place and foraging ground for sea turtles, most commonly Green and Hawksbill turtles. You can regularly see Green turtles which come to the shore for nesting, especially during June to September.
Lankayan Resort (B, L, D)
Day 4 & 5 – Dive & Snorkel
Lankayan Resort Lankayan is a tiny island ringed by endless pure white sandy beaches. Spend your day snorkelling or diving in the clear waters of the Sulu Sea. Snorkelers will see large stretches of beautiful hard and soft corals, among which are colourful fishes.
There are over 32 dive sites, including two wrecks, and most are just minutes away by boat from the jetty. There is an abundance of fish; some common sightings are the giant jaw fish, sting rays, snappers, groupers, anemone fish, fusiliers, trumpet fish and nudibranches (also called sea slugs). You can also see the gigantic but harmless whale sharks between March and May.
Lankayan Resort (B, L, D)
Day 6 & 7 – Explore
Danum Valley A short drive and then a 20 minutes trek through the rainforest will bring us to the entrance of Gomantong Caves. Your private guide will brief you on the cave fauna, including bats, swiftlets and crabs, and their contribution to maintaining a balanced ecology and significance to the local economy. In season, you may witness local people collecting birds' nests using bamboo ladders and poles. Then drive via Lahad Datu to our lodge beside the Danum River.
Danum Valley Conservation Area is home to the full range of Sabah's lowland fauna, including the rare Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants, clouded leopards, and orang-utans. So far some 275 species of birds have been recorded in the area. You will explore nature trails with the house naturalist followed by a slide show in the evening. If weather permits you can take a night trek to view some of the nocturnal animals.
Early morning birdwalk. After breakfast spend the day at leisure exploring the forest for birds and mammals, leading up to an escarpment with ancient burial coffins. Trek to waterfall and dip in refreshing rock pools.
Borneo Rainforest Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 8 to 11 – Dive & Snorkel
Mabul Transfer to Semporna followed by another one-hour boat ride to Mabul Island, a legendary name in diving circles, conjuring images of patrolling hammerhead sharks, millions of coloured reef fish and, above all, dozens of sea turtles swimming peacefully everywhere.
The Mabul Water Bungalows is an exclusive floating dive-resort built on the shallow sandbanks of the Ligitan Reefs. Planned and built as an airy, comfortable, sunny water village with no land in sight, it boasts a mile-long sandbank of powdery white sand.
Each of the 15 bungalows is exquisitely furnished with contemporary décor and equipped with the comforts of a modern home, including air-conditioning, satellite TV, mini bar and a spacious private balcony that offers panoramic vistas of the turquoise blue sea.
Diving: There are three daily boat dives to the nearby islands. Dive spots are extremely close and can be reached in just a few minutes by speedboat and some of them just by swimming from the dive centre pier. In addition to diving, you can indulge in snorkelling or ocean kayaking and still see countless fish just a few feet below the surface. You can have unlimited dives on the house reef right in front of the Bungalows.
With a six-stage filtration system and a computerised panel, the dive centre filling station can provide Nitrox mixes up to 40%, as well as re-breather and advanced decompression mixes up to 100%. It is also equipped with more than 200 aluminium tanks and uses custom-built fibreglass dive boats able to carry 10 divers each.
Mabul Water Bungalow (B, L, D)
Day 12 – Depart
Kota Kinabalu Return to the landbase for your flight back to Kota Kinabalu. Arrive Kota Kinabalu and connect with your flight.
Make this your holiday
Getting There A number of direct international airlines fly to Borneo’s two main airports; Kuching in Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. The two major airlines; Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia also operate domestic flights linking tourist destinations of interest. This has made getting around Sabah a lot easier and cheaper. With a little preplanning you can find a flight that will rival the local bus prices.
When to go A good time to travel to Borneo is between March and September/October, even though Southwest monsoon brings in short burst of showers between May to July. Showers usually occur on the upper slopes in the afternoon while Mount Kinabalu has its own climate. The driest season runs from April to October but even during this season, a good raincoat is a must. The heaviest rainfall generally occurs between October and January and the lowest in between February and April.