We have put together some useful information for snorkelling and scuba diving. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just offshore the city is a fantastic location for snorkelling & scuba diving day trips for beginners and experienced water enthusiasts.
However not all day trips are the same, in fact there are some pretty major differences that you should be aware of before parting with your hard earned dollars.
Snorkelling & scuba diving day trips range in price between MYR 200.00 and MYR 450.00 per person per day and fall into three categories.
- Do It Yourself (D.I.Y): You need to buy your own jetty ticket and permit to enter the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, rent or take along your own equipment, use the public water taxi’s and snorkel from the public beaches. D.I.Y options are not usually suitable for scuba divers.
- Day Tour Operators (D.T.O): Here you can join a daily trip organised by operators based on the mainland of Kota Kinabalu. You will need to find your way to the mainland jetty, from there you will join the operators boat for the day. Usually included in the package are the jetty fees, permit fees, equipment rental and a local set lunch at one of the public cafe’s on the public island.
- Specialised Programs: There are only two companies, one of which is Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures Sdn Bhd offering specialised snorkelling & scuba diving programs from within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park itself. By joining one of these programs you will be collected from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu and join a personalised program away from the crowds. Your jetty fees, permit fees, equipment, professionally qualified guide will be included in the program.
Options 1 & 2 are the cheaper options and do not provide you with the best experience of the underwater world. If you decide on a D.I.Y package you will be limited to crowed public beaches where the coral has been damaged beyond recognition from the endless amount of tourists climbing over it. Option 2, joining a day tour operator limits your opportunity to see the best sites on the day. You will be one of many clients on the boat and everyone will have different levels of experience, divers and snorkelers will be mixed together, beginners mixed with more advanced divers on the same dive site.
Surprisingly, operators are un-regulated in Sabah in terms of the qualification required to take people snorkelling and scuba diving which means you will likely be with a guide that does not hold any professional qualification to take you into the water and does not understand the ocean well enough to know where to take you to see the best marine life.
By joining a specialised snorkelling safari or scuba diving program with Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures. You are giving yourself the best opportunity to see the best coral sites within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and since you are probably only visiting once or twice in a lifetime it is surely worth the extra few dollars. Our programs are specialised which means they are conducted by professionally qualified guides who will ensure your safety and enjoyment. We know which coral sites are performing well on the day and since we do not mix different levels of experience and we do not mix people on different activities, your experience is not compromised. During your surface interval you return to one of our private PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centres, either on Gaya Island or Manukan Island away from the crowds on the public beaches used by the D.I.Y & D.T.O’s.
Another important factor is safety. Cheaper packages have to cut the cost somewhere and its usually on maintenance, equipment testing, air filters for tanks and servicing. All these are hidden from you, you don’t know if your equipment has been sanitised, you don’t know if the air filter on the compressor is regularity changed and you don’t see the service history of your equipment. At Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures we have qualified professionals in charge of our equipment maintenance and we do not compromise to save money.
Our specialised programs are designed and managed by our resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann, PADI Course Director Pablo and their team of PADI professionals. Our wealth of experience ensures that you have the best experience during your snorkelling and scuba diving program. To book your snorkelling & scuba diving specialised program contact us or book online.