Top 8 Sabah Diving Places Every Traveler Should Know 


Are you an adventurous person? Do you love diving? Have you exhausted all the diving places you know? Well, Sabah has several places that you can enjoy diving and have an experience of a lifetime. In this article, I discuss the eight best places to dive in Sabah.

If you are not a pro yet, and you are still freaking out on the whole diving concept, I will also give you a few tips on what to observe for safety.

Best Diving Places in Sabah

1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

This is just 20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, and you can use a speed boat to access the area. The islands that make up the park makes it an excellent area for diving.

It is also a great place to get started if you are still a newbie in diving as Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park water flows gently.

Some of the exciting rare lives you are likely to see include mandarin fish, harlequin and ghost pipefish.

It’s also not hard to see Hawksbill turtles.

When you visit in November and February, you can spot whales.

2. Sipadan

Sipadan is one of the world’s best diving places. Several reasons have led to the many praises of Sipadan.

One, it is the home of “turtle tomb,” which is an underwater cave that contains thousands of skeletons of sea turtle.

Source: Divebubby


That is not all; it also has more than 3000 species of fish.

Getting a chance to dive in Sipadan may be a bit tricky if you are a more of a last-minute person.

This is because, in an effort to conserve the sovereignty of Sipadan, only 120 divers are allowed on one day.

You are also not allowed to stay there, but you can book accommodations in Mabul or Semporna.

To make it to the cut, make sure to book early on in your trip.

3. Layang-Layang

This is another diving area that you cannot access all the time of the year. You can only get accommodation on the Island between March and October.

Layang Layang is 300 km North West of Kinabalu.

It’s walls fall as deep as 2000m, which gives it all its glory.

You are likely to see silvertips, gray sharks, hammerheads, threshers, and leopard sharks in the paradise.

The area is protected to ensure that the water remains pure from pollution to ensure the living things are not affected.

To get to the diving location, take a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Layang-Layang Island Resort, where all the diving plans are all made.

4. Mabul Island

This has been listed in the Asian’s favorite diving islands due to its closeness to Sipadan. Unlike the latter, Mabul Island has no restrictions. There are also multiple accommodation choices on the Island, which makes it easier to access.

If you are already in Sabah and you decide to try diving, this may be the best option for you.

This does not mean your experience will be any less fun; it is considered the leading underwater macro photography in the world.

Besides the macro life, you will also be lucky to view squids, octopi, and cuttlefish as you dive.

5. Lankayan Island

The chance to dive in this Island is only offered by Lankayan Island Dive Resort.

The area is sparsely populated, which makes it a great place for a vacation to calm down from all city noise.

You can access it by using a boat from Sandakan, which is a 90 minutes’ trip.

Lankayan has a bigger marine life compared to Mabul, which makes it worth the stop. The marine includes leopard sharks and humphead parrotfish.

It is also a chance to see flying gurnards, dragonets, and jawfish!

6. Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga is made up of three islands that are in the south of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. The islands resulted from volcano eruptions that pushed muddy sediment above sea level.

The area is not regularly used for tourism activities; only Pulau Tiga Resort offers a chance to explore the little paradise.

Since the reefs of Pulau Tiga are shallow, divers can take long dives. In your adventure, you are likely to see bamboo sharks, nudibranches as well as banded sea snakes in the turquoise water.

Although the area remains undeveloped, its still possible to create memorable family moments here.

7. Mataking Island

This is a better alternative for experienced divers and photographers. With walls dropping to more than 100m, there is a variety of marine life and sharks.

You can see rays, lobsters, giant clams, and batfish in the Island’s shallow waters.

The powdery sand and resort help in relaxation after diving.

To get to Mataking Island, you can take a boat at Semporna, which is at the southeastern tip of Sabah.

8. Pom Pom Island

The island has a beautiful resort, where you can enjoy diving activities. What’s excellent about Pom Pom Island is that you get to explore the Indonesia culture because the resort is built in their style (Pom Pom Princess).

If you go there between April and August, you will see turtles who nest there as well as hawkbills.

How Do You Stay Calm While Diving in Sabah?

It’s easy to assume that you will be calm. However, if you are not an experienced diva, you are likely to freak out and not experience the excitement you expected to feel.

This does not mean your anxiety should stop you from diving; you just have to know how to get past it.

1. Be Selective of What to Eat Before Your Dive

Drinking coffee is always the best way to prepare to go to your office, but it may not be the best beverage to take before diving.

While taking coffee gives you more energy to keep working, it may increase the levels of anxiety that you may already feel.

Be sure to take food and beverages that help you relax and stay ‘’sober” as much as possible before diving.

2. Avoid Negative Thinking

You are about to dive, and you are thinking about how one mistake could lead to another and get you hurt or killed – this is not helpful.

Negative thinking may actually lead you to trouble not because it was fate or bound to happen, but because you focused too much on that kind of outcome.

Try to visualize your diving experience as safe and fun. Double-checking your equipment may help you feel better and safer.

3. Practice to Stay Calm Under Pressure

As you go through the list of what you are likely to encounter, a shark may be one of them.

This is definitely exciting, and many divers look forward to the moment.

But what if it actually happens?

Well, do you pose for a selfie with the shark? Do you swim away and get away from the shark?

Here is what to do when you see a shark while diving to stay safe.

4. Respect Your Limits

If you are not an expert yet, it is best not to push yourself too hard.

Know your limits and stick to them.

The beautiful scenery underwater may tempt you to keep going, but once you realize you are out of control, it may cause intense anxiety underwater.

5. If You Don’t Feel Up to it, Cancel

This is the worst-case scenario, you are about to start your session, and you suddenly freak out. Your whole body is shaking, and you have no idea what to do.

There is no shame in canceling and trying it out next time when you are up to it.

Remember, you are doing this to have fun, so if you can’t have that, there is no point in doing it.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are multiple places you can enjoy diving activities in Sabah. Some of them require early booking as mentioned above, while others are open most of the time.

You, therefore, have no excuse of not enjoying a great diving experience once you are in Sabah.

Ensure you are physiologically prepared to be able to deal with the anxiety that comes with diving.

Are there any other places you have had great diving experiences in Sabah? Comment below and tell us more about it!



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