Scuba Diving

/Scuba Diving

Borneo offers world class scuba diving for recreational divers along the south and east coast off Semporna and Sandakan. Also world class scuba diving courses with Dive Downbelow in the TAR Park, offshore Kota Kinabalu.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

The world heritage site of Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo is one of the states most popular nature attractions and a must visit location. Not just once but time and time again. At any opportunity Richard and I will visit for a day trip or overnight stay.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

We adore Kinabalu Park’s cooler fresh air (about 25 degrees during the day and 16 degrees at night). We are Birding enthusiasts and Kinabalu National Park is a birders paradise. There is a very interesting canopy walk 45m above the jungle forest floor and stunning waterfalls for hiking enthusiasts. Visitors can soak in the hot water springs and discover unusual plant and animal life. Kinabalu National Park is also home to the tallest mountain in Malaysia – Mount Kinabalu.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

Kinabalu National Park is so diverse, not just in fauna and flora, but also in ways to explore it. Anything is possible – from a short day trip to spending 3 days or more.  Established as a state national park in 1964 before the droves of tourists began to visit. Restrictions were put in place, which kept general visitation to only some parts and routes, which to this day has kept human activities in the area to a minimum, while still offering the visitor plenty to see.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

In December 2000, Kinabalu National Park was designated as Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its “outstanding universal values” and one of the most important biological sites in the world.

We at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures offer Kinabalu National Park packages, which include accommodation in the park itself. There are a variety of accommodation options. We can tailor your Kinabalu Park program with accommodation that suits your needs and style.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

Our personal favourite accommodation in Kinabalu National Park is Kinabalu Lodge (images of the lodge are featured in this blog). A premier chalet with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, lounge, TV area, stunning balconies with views of Mt Kinabalu and a sunken fireplace. Kinabalu Lodge is a hidden gem within the park. We are Birding enthusiasts so we are often asked to organise and conduct specialised Birding itineraries and Kinabalu Lodge in Kinabalu National Park never fails to disappoint.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo

Contact us at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures to arrange your holiday to Kinabalu National Park, your trekking adventure and your specialised Birding Tour.

Kinabalu National Park Sabah Borneo2018-02-03T00:57:59+08:00

Get Fit Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb

Considering whether to climb Mount Kinabalu whilst traveling Sabah, Borneo?

Wondering how challenging is the Mount Kinabalu Climb and how fit you need to be. You do not need to be super fit to climb Mount Kinabalu but you do need to be in good physical condition.

Get Fit Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb

Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu is a tough physical challenge but not a technical climb as such. The average climber ascends from the starting point of Timpohon Gate within Kinabalu Park to Panalaban (aka Laban Rata), located a.s.l 3,333m in approximatley 4 – 6 hours. Our good friend Ravi Tharumalingam two time Mt Everest submitter recommends taking your time and aiming for a minimum 6 hour ascent time to reduce the effects of altitude sickness which can effect some people at this elevation.

Unrelenting large, seemingly endless rock steps form the well trodden path. The route is 99% uphill and the secret to a successfully climb is to take it slowly, unless you’re competing in the annual Kinabalu Climbathon, climbing Mt. Kinabalu is not a competition.

Rest huts are located along the route at 1KM intervals, equipped with squat toilets and untreated water they provide a seating area and an opportunity to discuss with other climbers the climbing experience.

The benefits of packing light for your Mt. Kinabalu climb becomes evident soon after you start your climb when everything starts to feel 10kg heavier than when you packed. Refer to our Preparation & FAQ page for a suggested packing list. Porters are available and can be requested upon booking, extra fees apply.

Clouds will begin to close in and more often than not it will begin raining around 12 noon and usually disperse around 5pm just in time for sunset.

Get Fit Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb

Once you arrive at the Panalaban plateau you will find your basic accommodation. There are three huts to accommodate climbers, Laban Rata Resthouse, Pendant Hut and Lamaing Hut. All provide dormitory accommodation. Laban Rata & Pendant Hut also have private rooms available. If the weather has heated the water its slightly warmer than freezing cold, but don’t expect any luxuries at the overnight rest stop.

Temperatures at Laban Rata are 6 – 10°C at night, plummeting further to 2°C at the summit with wind chill sometimes subtracting yet another few degrees from that.

The summit ascent starts at 2.30am and this is when a good torchlight is required. The final ascent from Laban Rata passing through the final check point in the dark is gruelling, steep slopes and some ropes to assist pave the route. If it’s a clear night, do take a moment to enjoy the night sky, with no light pollution its breathtaking.

Most people take around 2-3 hours to reach Mount Kinabalu’s summit from the Panalaban plateau, the objective is to arrive just before sunrise. If your ascent the day prior was quick then your guide may suggest you begin later than 2:30 am to avoid a long wait at the summit. The views at the top are spectacular. It can be extremely cold up there, especially since you may be sweating from the physical excursion then waiting in surrounding temperatures of 2°C for the sun to rise so make sure you take dry warm clothes. Due to the mountains close proximity to the equator Mt Kinabalu is not snow capped, so the mountains granite surface is visible year round. Take  a moment to appreciate the mountains beauty, you might even see hardcore paragliders going for an alternative descent.

Get Fit Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb

Once sunrise is over and you have absorbed enough of the views then its time to begin the descent. If you are climbing with the optional Via Ferrata activities then you will descend via a different route which will involve ropes & bridges, if you are descending via the standard route, you will follow the same route as the ascent. Irrespective your decent from Panalaban follows the same route as the ascent.

The descent, including breakfast at Laban Rata, will take 5 – 9 hours depending on your pace. People often report the descent being more challenging than the ascent due to the unrelenting use of your knee joints and pressure on your shins & surrounding muscles. Our advice is to take your time and enjoy the entire experience.

Once you reach Timpohon Gate (the starting & ending point) our guide will show you where to find the park shuttle bus which will bring you 5.5km down the windy roads back to the Balsam Cafe where you will meet our team to bring you back to Kota Kinabalu, unless you wish to remain another night at Kinabalu Park or Poring Hot Springs in the various lodges available.

How should i prepare to climb Mt Kinabalu

• A good amount of outdoor cardiovascular exercise (power walking, cycling, running, mountain biking etc) and getting out for long days in the hills whenever possible is great preparation for your climb.
• We recommend all climbers take cardiovascular sports at least twice a week, with each session being a minimum of 2 hours in duration at a medium intensity.
• Fitness training should begin 2-3 months leading up to your trip, this way you should be well prepared.

We have a number of Mount Kinabalu climbing packages available to suit your budget and requirement. Contact Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures for more information.

Get Fit Mount Kinabalu Summit Climb2018-07-13T22:11:17+08:00

Success PADI Instructor Development Course

Congratulations to our November / December candidates for successfully completing our PADI Instructor Development Course and becoming PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors. You are now at a super exciting point of your scuba diving career where you have a world of opportunities to choose from. Where in the world do you want to work? Previous candidates of Downbelow are located all over the globe. Check out the PADI employment board to see what jobs are on offer and begin living your dream!

Success PADI Instructor Development Course

Not Yet A PADI Instructor?

Join us for our next PADI IDC. Attitude & teamwork are the keys to success during your PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC). The IDC is great fun as well as a rewarding and unforgettable experience where you meet people that will likely become lifelong friends.

Resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard & Pablo PADI Course Director together with our Downbelow Go PRO team will help you develop a clear understanding of the PADI philosophy of continuing education and the full range of PADI programs. We will show you how to take advantage of the teaching materials and tools, including digital products that are available to you as a PADI Instructor.

Teaching is an easy and exhilarating experience once you’ve understood the basic teaching methods and how to fully use the PADI system. The programs are performance based; feedback and encouragement for your improvement is guaranteed throughout the course to inform you of your progress and level of proficiency.

Our modern classroom facilities located at our head office are used for the PADI Instructor Development Course presentations by PADI Course Directors Richard & Pablo and their Go PRO team as well as the IDC candidates. Knowledge development presentation on topics such as dive theory, builds on the candidates knowledge base and is essential to teaching students.

Theory workshops will take place in the classroom, however we encourage candidates to study independently on their own time too. There are valuable benefits to staying in our adventure lodge during the IDC so you can spend evenings in study groups and practicing presentations in our purpose built facilities. This also develops a great team spirit and bond.

Success PADI Instructor Development Course

Our PADI Instructor Development Course – IDC Package Includes Three Instructor Courses

• PADI Assistant Instructor Course (AI)
• PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI)
• Emergency First Response Instructor Course (EFRI).

If you already have any of these qualifications, we can tailor your training accordingly.

Once all three courses are successfully completed, you will be prepared for the PADI Instructor Examination (IE), which is a 2 day standardized, objective evaluation conducted by PADI Instructor Examiners from PADI Asia Pacific. We conduct the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) 5 times every year directly before the PADI IE.

This way our candidates knowledge and skills are fresh and fully prepared for the PADI IE evaluation. To find out more about Downbelow’s next IDC in Asia, check out our PADI Instructor Development Courses IDC schedule page. Visit our FAQ page for lots of answers to your questions.

What can I do after I become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor?

You can enroll in our PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer preparation course where you will be taught five additional PADI Specialty Instructor Courses and gain valuable teaching experience.

Not yet a PADI Divemaster? It’s no problem. You can join us at any diver level and we will design a program for you that incorporates all required prerequisite courses before the IDC.

Contact us at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures to learn more about our internship options.

Success PADI Instructor Development Course2018-02-03T00:58:00+08:00

Awarded PADI Career Development Centre

Everyone at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures S/B is feeling very proud right now on receiving the news that PADI have awarded us the prestigious distinction of PADI Career Development Centre, moving us into the highest level of educational professionalism in our industry.

Awarded PADI Career Development Centre

We are also very touched by all the amazing comments on facebook from so many clients & friends. Downbelow began life as a small two person UK dive centre almost two decades ago. Since then we have developed into a respected company with more than forty employees. With exemplary work & environmental ethics, Downbelow has become a way of life. Our team play a huge role in what makes Downbelow very special, our joint commitment to learn, to educate and to share great experiences is what keeps us motivated, dynamic and full of energy. We provide careers and opportunity for all that work within the company and everyone that chooses to educate themselves through us and its fantastic to gain such prestigious recognition for our efforts.

How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 

Our two resident PADI Course Directors & GoPro Team not only prepare people to be successful in becoming future PADI instructors, we are providing employees for our growing industry and creating ambassadors for our sport, oceans, outdoor and diving lifestyle.

Our next PADI Instructor Development Course begins 29th January 2018. Come and join us in the knowledge that you have chosen a PADI Career Development Centre to start your career in scuba diving. We remain 100% commited to creating life changing opportunities for professionals in the dive industry.

Awarded PADI Career Development Centre2018-02-03T00:58:00+08:00

Stay and Dive or Snorkel Kota Kinabalu

Check out our new video posted on our Youtube channel! This amazing tropical island paradise is located just at Kota Kinabalu City’s doorstep. In this video, we take you on a journey of Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures‘ Stay And Dive or Snorkel Kota Kinabalu program in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. At Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre Manukan Island which is just a few minutes away from the city centre, witness the stunning underwater world of TARP and get a look into the luxurious Manukan Island Resort. Get a gist of our wonderful island activities you can participate in during the day as well as what you can experience at night. Resort facilities, two PADI Course Directors and a team of professionals, 50 dive sites accessible within minutes, beach dining, live entertainment and more – the program offers the perfect experience for those wishing for a Borneo holiday.

For bookings and enquiries, contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at Don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel!


Stay and Dive or Snorkel Kota Kinabalu2018-02-03T00:58:14+08:00

Our Plastic World

Plastic is entering our environment at an unbelievably alarming rate way beyond the what the planet can absorb it. There can be no argument that this is a global issue that has spiralled out of control creating our plastic world.

Our Plastic World

At Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures we are faced with the ever growing quite frankly impossible challenge to keep our beaches, bays & waterways clean for tourists to visit, we assist the local authorities daily but the trash just keeps coming and it is not only in the ocean.  Land fills are bursting at the seems and recycling is a vain attempt to try to control the problem its even now entered our own food chain.. yes we are eating it!

I often hear visitors complaining that more is not done.. they blame local governments, other tourists and the local people but they seldom look at themselves!

Our company is very conscious of plastic usage and we try to reduce waste as a policy where possible.  We spend countless hours cleaning beaches, diving for debris and also remove discarded fishing nets whenever discovered all at our own cost, we conduct regular Project Aware events to increase local awareness. As a PADI Instructor Development Centre we regularly incorporate these environmental issues into our education programs from entry level all they way to PADI Instructor Development and scuba diving internships. 

Our Plastic World

However our efforts will be in vain if mankind as a whole does not change. Every time we use plastic we all contribute to this global disaster we all need to care more and adjust the way we live!

Politicians are so afraid of voters not appreciating the unpopular decisions that have to be made they end up not making the changes that are so desperately needed at all so Its time the public stand up and back those tough choices regardless of political party preferences before its to late.

Manufacturers are also often so afraid of cheaper competition they take the easy “single use plastic” option so again consumers need to support companies that do take the lead even if it costs a little more in the short term we will for sure all see the benefit in the long term. Downbelow also faces stiff competition in our field that does not take on the financial burden of a conservation but as the Managing Director of Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures and a Platinum PADI Course Director I take the stand and hope this is noticed by our clientele.

Our Plastic World

Manufacturers must also give consumers more choices as its practically impossible to shop without coming home with bags full of unwanted plastic but we can start by shopping wisely, use reusable bags, if you want a takeaway use your own containers, buy liquids in glass bottles or better still reusable ones, shop in markets where fresh produce has not been pre packed.. the list is endless but with thoughtful consideration we can all make a huge difference quickly.

The cynics may say I am only concerned because we work in the ocean environment and I am directly financially affected but I cannot describe the heartache myself and my colleagues feel when we find so many animals needlessly perishing due to discarded trash along with the natural beauty of the environment tarnished by debris.

Some creatures ingest and some are just trapped in the ever growing mountains of debris that is entering the oceans every second and it is not going away. Soon there will be more debris in our seas than fish and that is a fact we will all have to live with so next time you consider complaining or blaming others for trash on beaches or in the water you wish to swim in ask yourself how much have you contributed to this huge global epidemic!

Our Plastic World

We must all quite simply care more from manufacturers to politicians and act but most of all the general public must accept the tough choices in our ever changing world and make lifestyle changes.

For further reading, find more information about our environmental efforts and ways in which you can contribute to your own lifestyle.

Our Plastic World2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00

How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 

How to become a PADI scuba instructor might, at first glance feel out of your comfort zone. You see images of confident, fun loving people working in their ocean office, clearly having the time of their life and wish that could be you. You wonder how they did it. You wish you could turn back time and take that opportunity yourself and be one of those sun kissed people in the photo’s. Well i’m here to tell you its not too late –  you can.

Its never to late to live your dream and become a PADI scuba instructor. You may not see yourself teaching forever but being a PADI instructor literally opens up a whole new world – an underwater one.

How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 


Why Do People Become a PADI Scuba Instructor ?

I am PADI Master Instructor, my husband Richard is a Platinum PADI Course Director. We have been in the business of teaching people to become PADI Instructors since 2001 and i feel we are a great example of how the world of scuba diving changed our lives and then offered us different paths within the industry to develop our careers.

I never saw myself as a water babe. At school, swimming class was my worse and most feared lesson, i was never a strong swimmer.  But the moment i donned my scuba kit and learned to scuba dive i fell in love with the ocean and felt instantly in control and comfortable. I became a PADI instructor within one year of learning to scuba dive. My career at the time was in the IT industry, i loved the corporate world of business and travelled frequently, but there was something about the ocean that caught me and wouldn’t let me go. I knew that diving holidays were not going to be enough, i wanted to teach people to scuba dive. I wanted to be the person who introduced others to the underwater world. So i decided to look for a dive centre where i could complete my PADI instructor development course and become a PADI scuba instructor.

I knew that teaching was not going to be my lifelong career but as i learned the PADI system of education and the business of scuba diving i could see that there was a lot of opportunity beyond teaching. I saw how to integrate my experience of the corporate world and IT with scuba diving which filled me with enthusiasm and motivation.

I completed my PADI IDC in September 2001 and i taught PADI courses for 10 years. Although i no longer teach, my knowledge and experience as a PADI Instructor remains of great value every day and integral to the success of our scuba dive and travel business here in Sabah, Borneo.

Richard took a different path and to this day teaches courses. His passion is instructor development, he loves the process of transforming a capable scuba diver to become a PADI Scuba Instructor, he is a sharer of knowledge and experience. Richard is a Platinum PADI Course Director, the highest level of professional rating in the PADI system of education. The Platinum award is recognition of his commitment to instructor development. There are currently only 71 Platinum PADI Course Directors worldwide.


How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 


How To Become a PADI Scuba Instructor ?

There are several important aspects to consider when choosing how and where to complete a PADI scuba instructor course.

How much time do you have available ?

This will often dictate the method of your training. You can either take a standard PADI Instructor Development Course (PADI IDC) which takes around 12 days. Or you can integrate the PADI IDC into an internship program which is usually offered over a period of 1 month or more.

Here at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures we encourage candidates to choose the internship method where you will enjoy un-limited scuba diving during the program to help build experience and expose you to a great variety of PADI programs & courses. You will not be working for us since we have a full team of PADI Instructors, but you will be invited to shadow our team to get valuable exposure to real word situations.


How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 


Where to complete a PADI Scuba Instructor Course ?

The world is at your feet and there are so many choices. Here’s just a few reasons why we feel that choosing Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in Malaysian Borneo should be high on your list.

a) Geographically easy to reach: fly into Kota Kinabalu International Airport and within 20 minutes you are arriving at our Downbelow Adventure Lodge.
b) Easy entry in terms of a visa: to enter Malaysia your passport must be valid for at least six months. You do not need a visa if you are coming for business or tourism for 90 days or less. Immigration officials will place an entry stamp, known as a social visit pass (visa), in your passport authorizing a stay of up to 90 days
c) A great deal of experience is on offer: We operate TWO PADI 5 Star IDC Centres within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, just 10 minutes speedboat ride from the mainland. This means that by day you are on a tropical island, yet by night you can enjoy the sights and sounds of city life. You also get to experience two different dive centre practices. Resort based and independent island based. You can read more about both PADI 5 Star IDC Centres at our website.
d) Safety: Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Sabah is considered a safe place to stay and visit. Sabahans, and Malaysians in general, are a peace-loving and friendly people. It is rare to hear of any violent crime committed within KK, especially not against tourists.
e) More than just scuba diving: The state of Sabah in Borneo is a melting pot for wildlife and adventure seekers. During your stay with us you can climb Mt Kinabalu, go on safari to the Kinabatangan River, jungle trek the 130 million year old jungles of Danum Valley, enjoy white water rafting the rapids of the mighty PADAS River, mountain biking and much more. There is never a dull moment.


How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 


Which PADI 5 Star IDC Centre should i choose ?

Only accredited PADI Instructor Development Centres can offer PADI professional level training. To become a PADI IDC the organisation must be affiliated with a PADI Course Director. So the first step is to look for the PADI 5 Star IDC Centre.

At Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures our founder Richard Swann is our resident PADI Course Director, being resident has many benefits for the organisation and candidate. Richard has achieved the Platinum award for instructor development for 6 consecutive years which shows he has extensive knowledge and experience in instructor development. So looking for a PADI 5 Star IDC Centre with a resident Platinum PADI Course Director will set you up in a good position for successfully completing your course.

You also want to look specifically at what experience the dive centre can offer you. A variety of scenarios are important for your development as a PADI Divemaster or PADI Instructor, this is also vital for landing that dream job. The greater the variety of experiences under your belt, the greater your offering to potential employers. At Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, a wide variety of experiences are available. Our dive centre is the most popular in our area, highly rated, consistently busy and we dive every day.

We frequently host groups, schools and universities of sizes ranging from 4 to 55 people and, on any given day conduct a generous number of courses from the PADI spectrum be it Snorkeling, Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water Courses, Advanced Open Water Courses, lots of PADI Specialties, NITROX, Tec & Gas Blending, Rescue & EFRs and the full Go PRO continuing education portfolio from OWSI to PADI Staff Instructor. We are also committed to conservation, read more about our conservation awareness projects.

Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures offers you the variety of experiences you need for a successful dive internship and becoming a well rounded, highly employable PADI professional. Richard through his network of dive centres also assists in work placements and testimonials to help candidates find their dream job.

Choosing where and with whom to compete your PADI Scuba Instructor Course is a big decision and you will have a number of questions. We have put together a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website to help you with this decision.

For more information please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat things through with you to help you live your dream and become a PADI Scuba Instructor.

How to Become a PADI Scuba Instructor 2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures have always been very passionate about scuba diving in Sabah, Borneo. Some of the best dive sites in the world are located here and we have great pleasure in showing our guests the beautiful marine environment of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park at our Dive Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya Island and Manukan Island. So when Sabah Parks proposed for Downbelow Adventures to prepare and sink a ship for the purpose of it to be a dive attraction and artificial reef, we were honoured and ecstatic about the project! The name of the ship is KM Kuraman, and here is what happened behind the sinking of KM Kuraman.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

The Beginning

In November 2016, Downbelow Adventures’ Managing Director and resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann together with Downbelow Staff Team met with Sabah Parks and Maritim Malaysia to discuss the project at Sepanggar Naval Base, where KM Kuraman is. Richard and the team conducted a survey of the ship, and was able to learn about its interesting history from Maritim Malaysia.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

The History of KM Kuraman

The origins of KM Kuraman is that the British built a 103ft long patrol craft that served for almost 50 years with the Malaysian Navy under the name KD Renchong. The ship was then transferred over to Maritim Malaysia where it was renamed KM Kuraman, a name of an island located near Labuan. KM Kuraman served for another five years, then eventually decommissioned in 2015.

Downbelow Team Prepares KM Kuraman for Sinking

After conducting the survey, Richard and the team started planning on executing the sinking of KM Kuraman. Every task was decided after careful consideration and assessment of the ship; preparing KM Kuraman by 17 November 2016 at Sepanggar Naval Base was very crucial. Once Richard had delivered the outline of the project to the team and explained their roles, they then began to work.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

The first thing to do was to clear the ship inside and out to allow other work to be done, as well as bearing in mind of the environmental impacts of the project. Negative impacts are to be minimised and avoided, so Richard and the team were very attentive towards the matter when they removed unnecessary objects from KM Kuraman.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

Using their extensive dive knowledge, our team of PADI instructors guided by Richard designed the Wreck Penetration Layout of KM Kuraman as soon as it had been cleared. Divers safety is paramount, thus with their existing experience they are able to carry out the task while also gaining new ones in this valuable learning process.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

The aim was to make KM Kuraman sink in an upright direction. Richard and the team then cut holes in the ship that were strategically placed in order to ensure it sinks according to plan. The task was performed safely under the supervision of Richard.

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman

Everyone worked very hard behind the sinking of KM Kuraman, and prepared it to their best ability and knowledge as the project was central to the future of scuba diving in Sabah, Borneo. Stay tuned to our blog for the next feature of KM Kuraman!

Behind the Sinking of KM Kuraman2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00

Learn to Scuba Dive in Borneo

You have been talking about it for years with your family and friends but you have yet to take the leap and arrange for that fantastic adventure vacation to Borneo that you have always wanted. Now that you are finally ready to take the plunge, you want to make sure you make all of the right arrangements for your trip to make it the best possible. You have always wanted to go scuba diving in Borneo but have backed off because you never learned how to dive. Well today is your lucky day! At Downbelow Adventures, we can help arrange your entire trip for you so you can learn to scuba dive in Borneo while staying at one of the best resorts you will find anywhere.

Learn to Dive Holiday Package

Learn to Scuba Dive in Borneo

Manukan Island Resort, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

We offer a unique holiday package for you with our stay and learn to scuba dive package. We can help you arrange for a 4 day, 3 night stay at a fantastic resort on Manukan Island right in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Your stay at this magnificent resort provides you with stellar accommodations with beautiful ocean views so that you can take the magnificent scenery in each day. You can access the private beach for your enjoyment and each room is equipped with fantastic amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Getting Into the Water

Learn to Scuba Dive in Borneo

Downbelow Adventures PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre at Manukan Island Resort

Of course the focus of your trip is to learn to scuba dive in Borneo and we provide you with a PADI 5 Star IDC Centre so that you can get diving courses and instruction from highly trained, experienced and certified PADI instructors. Classes are designed to be small so you can be sure to learn everything safely and appropriately and when you are done you will have your first step of PADI certification completed and be a PADI-certified open water diver, allowing you to safely experience the beautiful waters and explore with a friend like never before.

Take the First Step

Learn to Scuba Dive in Borneo

The first step you need to take when you want to learn to scuba dive in Borneo is to visit our website at Downbelow Adventures by going to You can learn all about the various travel packages and opportunities we have available right now so you can find one that is suited best to you. You can then go ahead and contact us to make your travel plans and look forward to a fantastic adventure of your own.

Learn to Scuba Dive in Borneo2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Arguably among the most stunningly beautiful fish and a highly prized find by underwater photographers and divers alike, the Synchiropus splendidus (Mandarinfish) body is decorated with elaborated dots, swirls and waves of orange, bright blue, yellow and green. Widespread throughout the Phillipines and westward to Indonesia and Borneo, they’re usually found in very shallow water preferring the shelter of coral on reef crests and slopes. And we were very fortunate to have witnessed and photographed the Synchiropus splendidus spawning when diving at the south-eastern coast of Sabah.

On the fringing reef of Mabul Island, sandwiched between Borneo Divers and Seaventures Resort is Paradise, home to thriving numbers of mandarin fish. Colonies reside among the corals in just six metres, providing ultra convenient accessibility. The site is manageable even when surrounding currents are strong and can be shore dived from Mabul.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

The male mandarinfish is larger and overall more robust; he has proportionately larger caudal and dorsal fins, but the most distinctive difference is the elongated dorsal spine being almost twice the size of the female.

Around sunset, groups of three to five females congregate in particular regions of the reef; males will go to these areas and display mating behaviour by raising their elongated dorsal fin. A male may visit several different groups in one evening.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

During the mating process the female Mandarinfish gently rests on the males’ pectoral fin. Her belly is full with eggs about to be released.

In the mandarinfish world, size does matter! Females prefer to mate with the largest male as smaller males may require two or three attempts at a successful synchronised release of eggs and sperm. During the mating process the female gently rests on the males’ pectoral fin, simultaneously they rise together in the water column up to one metre above the reef. At the climax, in a split second the eggs and sperm are released and the fish disappear. The fertilised eggs are then left to the devices of the ocean currents. After 18-24 hours they hatch into one millimetre long larvae and remain planktonic for up to two weeks before settling onto the reef to begin their benthic life.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Mid spawning, the female’s underbelly is now much smaller. The eggs are released and can be seen around the tail fin.

As we fin away to end our dive we enjoy the myriad of marine life surrounding us. Among the vibrantly coloured corals illuminated by our torchlight, we spot a stumpy spined cuttlefish and a juvenile painted frogfish. The Synchiropus splendidus spawning had left us in awe. It was all over too quickly and once again we’re delighted and amazed at what this little piece of Paradise has produced for us.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning

Parental duties completed, fertilized eggs drift in the ocean currents.

Synchiropus Splendidus Spawning2018-02-03T00:58:15+08:00