This past Sunday I went on a diving trip to the coral reefs around the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP). I
Let’s go diving!
(Photo taken by our lovely captain)
joined a group of seven other divers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica and Taiwan. Our great guides-team consisted of a Malaysian and an English dive master who made it an unforgettable experience!
We left from Jesselton Point in the western end of downtown Kota Kinabalu and enjoyed the beautiful boat ride along the coastlines of the islands Gaya, Sapi, Mamutik, Manukan and Sulug which form the TARP, which was named after Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. In 1974, this state park three kilometers from Kota Kinabalu was gazetted as Sabah’s second national park with the goal to protect the local marine eco-systems as well as flora and fauna.
|Gaya Island Resort
After picking up more divers from Gaya Island, which is the biggest among the five and therefore named “Big Island” in Malay, our captain took us towards Sapi Island (“Cow Island”) for our first dive in the morning.
We set up our diving gear and jumped into the cool water, starting towards the beautiful coral reefs along Sapi Island. For almost one hour, we enjoyed an enormous variety of fish and corals. I had a great time discovering clownfish hiding in anemones and other colorful fish surrounding us and curiously watching the big intruders of their territory.
Before heading to Gaya Island for lunch, we had the opportunity to explore the shallower reefs closer to Sapi Island by snorkeling. The beauty of the corals serving as home to so many fishes was simply stunning. I took good care not to touch any corals as this causes them to die, which destroys the home to the marine life.
| Time for Lunch Break at Gaya Island
After a relaxing lunch break with great Malaysian food we went back to the boat for the afternoon dive. This time, we went a bit further around Sapi Island to explore Coral Garden, another reef within TARP. Even though visibility started to get worse, you could still see uncountable fish swimming around the coral reef. Our local dive master even managed to show us sea horses hiding within the corals! At the end of the dive, he took us to a set of rotten wheels that serves as a hiding place also for sea horses and other kinds of fish.
I had such a great time discovering the wonders of TARP on this exciting diving trip! I can recommend a trip to the islands and coral reefs of this beautiful marine park to anyone who visits Kota Kinabalu and does not want to miss out on the beauty just off its coastline. I will definitely go back again!