Sabah can be called a proverbial paradise: With its blue waters, colourful underwater reefs with a variety of fascinating aquatic life and the stunning white beaches of powdery white sand. There are numerous idyllic islands with clear visibility of underwater attractions scattered around the coast of Malaysia – particularly around Sabah. This entire region is studded with spectacular diving sites and is a favourite of experienced divers, and also for amateurs.
Diving in Malaysia
There are numerous top class diving outfits offering lessons in the waters around islands such as Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang, and others. Some of the more common marine creatures that divers can hope to spot are whale sharks, manta rays, starfish, and a variety of sea turtles. The monsoon season reduces visibility and makes diving less rewarding. The best time to visit Sabah and around are from March to October. The islands off the southwest coast of Sabah are suitable for diving all year round.
Malaysia’s coastline offers wreck diving, snorkelling, and coral reef diving. While wreck dives enable experienced divers to glimpse Malaysia’s underwater treasures, coral reefs can be explored by snorkelers and scuba divers. Paragliding, windsurfing, waterskiing, and jet skiing are among some of the watersports on offer in Sabah, Malaysia.
Among one of the best adventure activities around Sabah, parasailing is a must try. In this activity, a person is hoisted in the air behind a moving boat, while being attached to a canopy wing. It’s thrilling to get a panoramic view of the islands and blue waters from high up in the skies.
Sea walking is one of the speechless experiences one can ever have in their life. The thrill of watching the beautiful underwater marine life float in front of you in slow motion has to be seen to be believed! Sea walking allows a person to enjoy the underwater world without the hassle of learning scuba diving. There is a helmet attached with an oxygen supply that allows one to go underwater without any inhibitions. It is a remarkably wonderful way of watching marine life in slow motion.
Many islands in Sabah are blessed with marine line and coral beds. The easiest and closest place to scuba dive is located hardly 20 minutes boat ride away from Kota Kinabalu city; near Manukan Island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Scuba diving in Malaysia offers the opportunity to experience its coral reef system, which supports aquatic organisms numbering up to at least 200 species.
Diving and Snorkelling
Numerous scuba diving and beach resorts offer equipment for hire. Most dive operators have five-day PADI courses leading to certification as a diver and they also organize trips to dive sites.
Snorkelling needs only a mask and a snorkel. It is the best way to watch underwater life at close quarters. In several places in Sabah, coral reefs are in shallow water that makes it easy for snorkelers to get among them and explore the pristine vistas and vibrant corals. However, care should be taken not to touch the corals as they can be easily damaged.
White Water Rafting
The adventurous and thrilling sport of whitewater rafting has many frothing rivers in Sabah to experience in. The rivers that flow with the background of Malaysia’s rugged mountains become rapids en route to the sea forming a spectacular setting for a white water rafting adventure. Rapids graded from Class I to IV are possible and class I & II rapids are recommended for beginners.
No previous experience is necessary for white-water rafting, and the adventure operators run through safety procedures before setting off. Rafters are given helmets and protective jackets. The experience varies from tranquil waters to topsy-turvy rapids.
Most river cruises in Sabah are through lush rainforests and mangrove swamps. And usually set out in the early mornings or during the evening. Apart from spotting long-tail macaques, langurs, and proboscis monkeys, and birds such as hornbills; you might also witness an unforgettable sunset.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is a cluster of five beautiful islands: Pulau Gaya, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. The park was established in 1974 and was named after the country’s first prime minister. The main aim of establishing the Park was to protect the fragile coral reefs around the islands.
Wildlife on the islands includes long-tailed macaques, pangolins, and pied hornbills. Pulau Gaya is the biggest of the five islands. Covered in dense forest, it has about 20 km of trails and dazzling white sand beaches.
Pulau Manukan, where the park headquarters is located, is the most popular of the five islands, especially for day trips. Among the many activities on offer are snorkelling, glass-bottomed boat rides, sea kayaking, and parasailing. Scuba gear can be hired on the island.
Also read, More amazing things to do in Sabah.