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  • PADI OW Course Camps
  • Divemaster
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  • Shallow Water Skill Practice in our Lagoon
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PADI Open Water Course

Our PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre on Gaya Island within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – TARP in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah provides an ideal venue for the PADI Open Water Course. Our confined shallow, sandy areas right in front of our PADI 5 Star Dive & Adventure Centre  are ideal for skill practice. For the open water dives, we are perfectly located to access all the best dive sites within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – so less time traveling – more time spent underwater!

We pride ourselves on small group instruction ensuring our clients get the very best of attention from the instructor. Safety is paramount, we adhere to PADI standards and procedures and follow British HSE guidelines.

Course Highlights


  • Small Group Instruction
  • Island Based – No Boring Classroom
  • Dive Every Day
  • Fully Inclusive Rates
  • Resident PADI Platinum Course Director

All images are are taken on location by our Managing Director – PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann.

Course Overview

The PADI Open Water Course is not only our most popular course but the most popular scuba course in the world. It’s the first level of PADI Certification and as a certified PADI Open Water Diver you have the freedom to dive with a buddy independent of a professional to a maximum depth of 18 meters.  If you are between 10 and 14 or have a child between these ages, we offer a PADI Junior Open Water Diver course.

The course covers all the essential skills of adapting to the underwater world, including dive equipment, buddy system, communication underwater and dive planning. Additionally, it also covers boat diving procedures, problem management, health in diving, breathing air at depth, special dive table and computer procedures, basic compass navigation, use of the dive tables, physics and physiology, skills development in confined and practical application of skills in open water training dives.

Beginners learn to scuba dive through structured diving lessons. All our academics take place at our PADI 5 STAR IDC Dive Centre on the island, where our guests and students can enjoy our tropical surroundings chatting about all the wonderful creatures you will have spotted. We are the only operator at this location so our surroundings are non crowded. Our centre is also ideal for non diving family and friends.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn fundamentals of scuba diving, including dive equipment and techniques. You’ll complete five knowledge development sessions, five confined water sessions and four open water dives.

Fit To Dive

You don’t have to be super fit to learn, virtually anyone who is in good health and reasonably comfortable in the water can earn a PADI Open Water Diver certification. However you must complete the Fit To Dive questionnaire. At some point in the course, we’ll ask you to demonstrate the ability to swim 200 metres/yards without swim aids or 300 metres/yards with mask, fins and snorkel and tread water for about 10 minutes, but that’s about it as far as watermanship goes.

Our Location - Downbelow PADI 5 STAR Dive Centre

Course Objectives

  • To overcome the general misconception of the underwater environment and the understanding of safety rules of diving using scuba.
  • To apply the basic knowledge of physics, physiology and medical aspects as they are related to student diver performance in the water.
  • To provide student divers with the basic knowledge of the purpose, features, types of equipment used during the course.
  • To educate student divers in basic aquatic knowledge of the diving environment.

Method of Assessment

Knowledge mastery is assessed using knowledge reviews, quizzes and final exam with a minimum score of 75%. Skills mastery is assessed by student demonstration of skill proficiency and competency in water.

Junior PADI Open Water Course

The junior open water course involves exactly the same training, however the child is certified to dive with a certified adult to a maximum depth of 12 meters until the age of 15 years when the certification can be upgraded at no extra cost.

Shallow Water Skill Practice in our Lagoon

Your Safety is Our Priority

At all times you are in safe hands. We pride ourselves on small group instruction ensuring our clients get the very best of attention from the instructor. Safety is paramount, we adhere to PADI standards and procedures and HSE Guidelines. Our boats are equipped with marine radio, GPS & First Aid kits and our qualified snorkel guides always bring a life ring with them. All our guides are trained in Emergency First Response.

Flying & Climbing After Diving  According to our current PADI Flying After Diving guidelines – it is highly advised you should not go to altitude (this includes flying and climbing) within 18 hours when doing multiple dives. This means that the day after your diving program you can take a flight after 0930 hrs in the morning. Or you can choose to not take part in the afternoon dive and therefore take a flight after 0600 hrs in the morning the following day. Please note that since all our courses / programs last a full day there will be no refund offered for missed dives since you have the option to stay on the island or enjoy snorkelling and trekking activities.

All Inclusive Rates!

We run daily picks ups from Kota Kinabalu City to our dive centre. Our all inclusive price means that you pay one price which includes everything you’ll need for a great day out. That’s return transfers from your hotel (KK City Centre only including Tanjung Aru – subject to confirmed bookings), boat transfers, park and jetty fees, activity equipment, refreshments – free flow water / tea / coffee and freshly cooked lunch. All programs last for the full day and our return boat transfer to the mainland is at 16:00. If you would like to leave earlier this is classified as a private transfer and the cost is RM110.00 per boat.

PADI Open Water Course
 

Course Duration

This 3/4 day course, is based on participants individual performance and ability to meet the course objectives.  You can save one day of course time by completing the academics online through our eLearning PADI Open Water Course portal.

Self Study: Read chapter 1 – 5 of the open water manual and complete all related knowledge review (this represents the entire manual). Read the Recreational Dive Planner booklet and learn table. If you have time to collect the self study materials before the course – great! If not the self study can be completed during the 3/4 day course in your own time.

Day 1 08:15 – Hotel pickup (KK city centre only including Tg Aru) (07:15 hrs pick up for outside of KK Area) & transfer to marina

08:30 – Meet Downbelow staff & transfer by boat to Downbelow dive station on Gaya Island
09:15 – Meet with your instructor for course introduction, registration and payment arrangement. Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session.
10:30 – Tea/coffee surface interval on island, watch open water video.
11:15 – Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session
13:00 – Buffet lunch at our dive centre & watch open water video.
14:00 – Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session.
16:00 – Boat transfer to marina 16:30 – Return to hotel (KK City)

Day 2 Same as Day 1 and working through the structured course program.

Day 3 08:15 – Hotel pickup (KK city centre only including Tg Aru) (07:15 hrs pick up for outside of KK Area) & transfer to marina.
08:30 – Meet Downbelow staff & transfer by boat to Downbelow dive station on Gaya Island
09:15 – Meet with your instructor for course introduction, registration and payment arrangement. Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session.
10:30 – Tea/coffee surface interval on island, watch open water video.
11:15 – Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session
13:00 – Buffet lunch at our dive centre & watch open water video.
14:00 – Dive safety briefing/confined water session/open water session/knowledge review session.
16:00 – Awarded successful certification, followed by boat transfer to marina.
16:30 Return to hotel (KK City)

Day 4 is an extra day should a student diver need more time to complete the performance requirements to certify. Often this day is not required.

Sections may change, so please bring all materials to all sessions. Due to the course being performance based, finishing times may vary due to individual achievements.

Minimum age of 10 years old to enrol (10-14 year olds earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, and may dive to a maximum depth of 12 metres). Complete watermanship assessment: 200m swim OR 300m snorkel, tread water/float for 10 minutes without swim aids. Ensure you are “Fit to Dive” by completing the medical statement. Any “Yes” answer will require a doctors to complete the form.
Hotel transfers (KK City), boat transfers, freshly cooked lunch and refreshments, park entry & jetty fees, guide/instruction, required learning materials, required certifications fees, equipment rental, lunch, plus water, tea & coffee.
Alcoholic or carbonated beverages, items not explicitly stated
Change of clothes, sun lotion, sun cream, towel, personal toiletries, insect repellent, hat, personal medication.
Minimum age of 10 years old to enrol (10-14 year olds earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, and may dive to a maximum depth of 12 metres). Complete watermanship assessment: 200m swim OR 300m snorkel, tread water/float for 10 minutes without swim aids. Ensure you are “Fit to Dive” by completing the medical statement. Any “Yes” answer will require a doctors to complete the form.
Course Pre-Requisite

Minimum age of 10 years old to enrol (10-14 year olds earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, and may dive to a maximum depth of 12 metres).

Capable of a 200m swim OR 300m snorkel, tread water/float for 10 minutes without swim aids.

Clients must complete a medical form and any positive (yes) answers require a doctors assessment and signature for dive fitness. Refer to our Are you Fit to Scuba Dive website page or ask our travel consultant for advice.

Important Information

Due to weather conditions, activities may be subject to re-scheduling to best meet operations, as well as clients health and safety.

Don’t forget your SUN-CREAM. We are in the tropics where the sun is very strong and although you will be underwater the sun rays penetrate.

After scuba diving, current PADI Flying After Diving guidelines state that you should not go to altitude (this includes flying and climbing) within 18 hours when completing multiple scuba dives. This means that the day after your diving program you can take a flight after 0930 hrs in the morning. Or you can choose to not take part in the afternoon dive and therefore take a flight after 0600 hrs in the morning the following day. Please note that since all our programs last a full day there will be no refund offered for missed dives since you have the option to stay on the island or enjoy snorkelling and trekking activities.

Liability Forms

Clients will be asked to complete PADI standard liability forms at the mainland departure jetty and dive centre. Parent or guardian must sign for participants under 18 years of age.

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