One of the best ways for tourists to enjoy and get up close and personal with the beauty of Malaysia is to dive Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu is the best starting point for dive trips to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP). TARP, which has five islands surrounded by shallow waters, is home to beautiful coral beds and marine fauna, of which, some are getting endangered and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
What Diving Around TARP Offers
The five islands in TARP (namely, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Gay, and Pulau Sulug) are located three kilometers off the coast of Kota Kinabalu and are about 15 minutes by boat from the city.
The Mid Reef, one of the best dive sites in the area, offers a breathtaking view of different marine species, including clownfish or anemone fish, sting ray, puffer fish and grouper. Divers can also find moray eels, scorpion fish , lionfish and many other reef fish in the dive site.
Pulau Gaya, the largest of the five islands, is also one of the best places for scuba diving in Malaysia. Its reefs are home to schools of damsels and juvenile fish. Pulau Gaya is also one of the most favorite destinations of macro divers who enjoy hunting for gobies and nudibranch. Meanwhile, at Pulau Sapi, divers can enjoy sight of octopus, cuttlefish, and crustaceans like shrimps and crabs.
For divers or tourists who want to see leopard sharks, turtles and trigger fish, they can choose to dive at Pulau Sulag. And of course, diving at Pulau Mamutik, which also offers a breathtaking view of a swarm of different fish and of rich coral beds, is also one of the dive sites that tourists should not miss in Malaysia. Hawksbill or green turtles, olive ridley, puffer fish, ornate ghost pipefish, and barracuda can also be found in the area.
Diving around TARP is the perfect place for certified divers and beginners alike. The area boasts of 25 dive sites, and the dives range in depths, from 5 to 25 meters. Because there is little or no current within the marine park all year round, it offers divers a clear view of its rich marine life at any time of the year. For many divers, the best reefs to dive are those on the westward facing side of the islands.
In addition to scuba diving, tourists may also enjoy the panoramic view of lush tropical vegetation on sandstone rocks and rich wildlife in the area. Non-divers may also enjoy snorkeling around the islands in TARP and enjoy the site of colorful corals located just near the shores.
What is best about choosing to dive Kota Kinabalu is that the dive sites in this part of Malaysia are very accessible. The TARP is located about 15-30 minutes by boat transfer from Kota Kinabalu , and there are also many dive centers in Kota Kinabalu that can arrange a fun dive trip for you.
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