One of the main highlights of our trip was getting to scuba dive in Borneo and the much anticipated time had finally come. From Kota Kinabalu we took an awful overnight bus to Semporna, and then a water taxi to the island of Mabul. The water was a clear turquoise colour and invited us to jump in and explore the world renowned diving. While diving around Mabul Island we saw many marine creatures and I even checked off a life long bucket list item!
Mabul Island is a small island and due to the great diving in the area is crowded with resorts – but none of the resorts are on the island. The island itself is inhabited with local shacks and shops that are crammed onto the beaches and spew out over the water on docks.
Almost all resorts are located on long docks that protrude from the island, and give the guest bungalows a truly waterfront view. From the cracks in the dinning area floor you can see right into the ocean below and one time from our balcony we saw a large green turtle swim by.
We did three dives near Mabul and each offered something new. The first dive I like to think of as our introduction to sea turtles because we encountered at least five turtles at a close distance (please forgive me for the lack of dive photos as I was having technical difficulties with my camera).
Some of these turtles were enormous and displayed a relaxed and carefree gaze directed at the strange gawking divers. Mabul is known for its macro life and our guide impressed me with his sharp eye and ability to point out the tiniest nudibranch or fish.
Our second dive was a bit further from home at a nearby island called Kapalai Island. Most of this dive consisted of exploring artificial reefs that were placed here to encourage and provide habitat for local marine life. There were huge fish hanging around these structures, and we saw a few rare treats such as a moray eel and angler fish.
I squealed through my regulator as our guide pointed out a small flamboyant cuttle fish that was flashing and changing colours right before our eyes. The flamboyant cuttle fish was high on my wish list of marine sightings but was quickly outdone on our next dive. The last dive was what is called a “muk dive” because it mostly consists of starring at the sandy bottom of the ocean, but in this area of the world is where some very special animals live.
Our guide pointed at a small tuft of sea weed in a sandy area so I lowered myself to investigate and my vision blurred out from tears of joy as I found myself face to face with a small seahorse. It has been my dream for as long as I have been diving to see a seahorse and the unexpected surprise left me emotional and smiling ear to ear.
After my divers dream come true weekend there wasn’t much that could get me down – other than the fact that we had less than a month left of our trip! For the remaining three and a half weeks we head over to southern Thailand to soak up the sun on warm sandy beaches and enjoy a little more warm water diving.