Archive for March, 2015

Professional and Safe Organization

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 @ 08:00 Guestbook

Downbelow was recommended to me by a friend as I was visiting Kota Kinabalu with my wife who was attending a conference. I sent them an email after their closing time thinking that I would get a response in the morning. I was very surprised to get a call from Sarah Jane, a Senior Travel Consultant, within an hour. I was able to book my wife and I for the next morning.
They arranged for my wife and I, and our gear, to be picked up at our hotel the next morning and for the next three days. The van that picked us up was clean, reliable, comfortable and the driver was prompt, courteous and professional. We were dropped off at the marina where we signed some paperwork and were briefed on the boat ride to Gaya Island. Then we were escorted to one of their boats, where we donned personal floatation devices. The boat did not cast off until everyone was wearing a life jacket and seated.

The ride to Gaya Island was brief and pleasant. The boat was clean and the driver was focused on getting us to the Island safely and comfortably. The facility on the island was clean, well kept and, again, comfortable. We were briefed on what was expected of us on the island and while diving. We then completed the diving paperwork and our certification cards were reviewed so that they knew our limitations regarding depth and gas.

Each dive was well briefed by the guide, most of whom were PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors or higher. We were actually guided by PADI IDC Staff Instructors on many of the dives. Each dive required a short boat ride to the dive site. The guides helped us don our equipment and assisted us in our back rolls off of the side of the boat. Each dive lasted about 50 minutes, depending upon the air consumption of the divers. Each dive was conducted safely and professionally and to the standards expected of them as a PADI 5 Star Dive Center. The scuba equipment was in good shape and well maintained. I tested the air in the cylinders for Carbon Monoxide and there wasn’t even one part per million detected in the 18 cylinders that I checked.

After each dive, we returned to Gaya Island for water and fruit. Coffee and tea was also available. After the second dive, lunch was provided. If you are a vegetarian and you let them know then they will cook a vegetarian lunch for you. I’m a vegetarian and some days the lunch was the best meal I ate all day.

The staff will carry your gear back to the facility for rinsing at the end of the day and they will store your gear if you are returning the next day. I dove with them for four days and 12 dives.

I have never seen a better run organization, from the Course Director – Richard Swann down to the the amazing staff both at headquarters and on Gaya Island. I recommend Downbelow without hesitation. They can accommodate very large groups down to single divers and their training program is one of the best in the world.

– Pedro, Japan

Downbelow headline local Sabah newspaper!

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Downbelow headline local newspaper, after Resident Platinum PADI Course Director and Downbelow’s Managing Director Richard Swann got a shot of a long-awaited Whale Shark in the TAR marine park!

During a visit from a group of Politeknik Sandakan students, many participants witnessed the first migration of Whale Shark through the local Kota Kinabalu waters! It was a juvenile, but that doesn’t mean to say it was small, far from it – Whale Sharks are an amazing sight for the very reason that they are the largest fish in the world!

As quickly as he could, Richard managed to get a few shots of the ‘big fish’ to show our Politeknik Sandakan students whilst they watched the animal swim around and under the Downbelow speedboat they were aboard.

Wildlife spotting means just that – not touching! It’s important to display appropriate interaction with any animal, whether underwater or terrestrial land, which is the very focus of the article for which one of Richard’s photos goes with.

In dive briefings, our PADI Instructors will always remind clients on the environmentally-responsible behaviour towards marine life, and we commend the writer and newspaper for spreading awareness on the importance of our local community to gain such appreciation.

Contact our Sabah Travel Centre for the chance to spot wildlife (underwater or on land!), for you and/or your travelling group in Sabah, Borneo!

Adventure group try zipline action in Kota Kinabalu!

Monday, March 30th, 2015 @ 08:00 Borneo Adventure, Danish Adventure Group, Groups & Schools, News

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Our first expedition group of the year try the zipline action in Kota Kinabalu for an extra land day trip to explore more of the very best attractions in Sabah!

Zipline, wall climbing, abseiling and rope-walking activities, which are all located outdoors with a view of the beautiful Crocker Range mountain plains, is so close to Kota Kinabalu city centre! With its accessibility such a convenience for our adventure group, they had a full afternoon of fun and fitness!

One of our Sabah Travel Centre experts, Jane, escorted the group to the venue and assisted when necessary. There’s a long list of attractions in and around Kota Kinabalu, and it’s important that our travel and tours packages consist of other operations that also share our corporate responsibility to practise environmental friendliness.

This group of 20 young adventurers have already experienced many other activities within their 30-day Expedition Borneo program to discover more about Sabah, Borneo, such as climbing Mount Kinabalu – a massive achievement for any climber!

Get more information on how our Sabah Travel Centre experts can assist you to create a detailed itinerary for you and your group to explore Kota Kinabalu!

Why climb Mount Kinabalu? For 1 night at Kinabalu Park!

Friday, March 27th, 2015 @ 08:00 Climb Mt Kinabalu, News, Professional Diving Internships

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For 1 night at Kinabalu park, why not climb Mount Kinabalu!?

Trisha and Naychi had a day free to take up our awesome mountain climbing promotion, in which we offer the same price for our 3 days and 2 nights itinerary as the 2 days and 1 night!…just think of it as a FREE nights’ stay!

It really does wonders for energy levels to acclimatise to the difference in climate at Kinabalu National Park for 1 night before starting the arduous climb to the Laban Rata Plateau.

For the average climber, the hike from Timpohon Gate to the Laban Rata accommodation compound is approximately 5-6 hours, depending on climbers’ physical fitness and pace, so Trisha and Naychi didn’t hesitate to explore the grounds of Kinabalu National Park HQ.

They’ll also want to have a day or two to relax any muscle aches and pains before they begin their Go PRO internship program at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre. However, we do know realize how hard it is to take a break when there’s the possibility of going diving. It would be wise to discuss with Supervisor Karen what gear we stock at our Kota Kinabalu Dive Shop to maximise your diver safety.

Get more details when you contact our Sabah Travel Centre, where our experienced Go PRO advisors can create an entire itinerary for you to explore the very best of Sabah!

University tourism students experience SCUBA in Kota Kinabalu!

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Rather than having any rest on a Sunday, our Downbelow team would rather welcome our University tourism students to experience SCUBA in Kota Kinabalu!

A total of 20 visited our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in the TAR marine park, and one of the group members is ex-Downbelow staff Awang, who now attends the University of Malaysia (UMS) to further his studies of tourism – one of the largest industries in Malaysia (and the world!)

Awang’s peers are also studying similar subjects within the tourism industry field, and for their first time witnessing the underwater world, it really inspired the students to actively support its protection for the benefit of our marine tourism future.

Many visitors to Sabah are amazed at the natural biodiversity that can only be found in Sabah, and Kota Kinabalu is a popular destination because of its accessibility to the very best attractions – both the spectacular underwater world, as well as the terrestrial jungle environment!

One of the most popular activities is one of the most challenging: climbing Mount Kinabalu! Kinabalu National Park is a UNESCO designated site that offers a variety of education for the public to appreciate the importance of preserving the biologically diverse Crocker Range mountains!

Contact our Kota Kinabalu HQ Sabah Travel Centre to discuss any group travel to explore exciting adventures within Sabah, and at the same time receive an educational perspective of our natural environment in Borneo!

Downbelow teach SCUBA to the future of Sabah’s tourism industry!

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Our Downbelow premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre operations were honoured to host a whole day for our 30 friends visiting from Politeknik Sandakan!

The students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Project AWARE mission through their experience of the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program and Snorkel Safari. Nothing beats experiencing the reality of scuba diving, and inspiring others to become Project AWARE supporters themselves!

It seemed to be kismet when a whale shark was spotted swimming within the confines of the TAR marine park, and several of the students (who were snorkelling, as a matter of fact) were lucky enough to see it up close from one of our dive boats!

We only wish for the students of Politeknik Sandakan to continue visiting us on the regular basis that they are doing to always remember how important the contribution to our marine environment is for the future of Sabah’s tourism industry.

Sabah Travel Centre experts at our Kota Kinabalu HQ are experienced in creating itineraries to suit the educational mission. Get in touch if your group would like our experts to create terrestrial-based programs – such as jungle trekking the Salt Trails or climbing Mount Kinabalu!

Honeymoon in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah!

Friday, March 20th, 2015 @ 17:57 Guestbook

We are so pleased to have arranged packages through our Sabah Travel Centre for honeymooners Mikko and Maria to begin their married life with such wonderful memories of their time spent exploring Kota Kinabalu, Sabah!

We’d be honoured to plan your anniversary for a return visit, for you to see the other amazing attractions you didn’t sample on your first trip! ;)


Downbelow trains USW students: our future of scientific diving!

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 @ 08:00 Groups & Schools, News, University of South Wales


Downbelow is always honoured to receive groups of eager students from USW, and train our future of scientific diving!

This is the fourth field study trip to Sabah, for students of University of South Wales (USW) to conduct their annual tropical ecology studies.

For a week at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in TAR marine park, students reading for their BSc International Wildlife Biology and Natural History degrees, will be led by our experienced team of PADI professionals for training in scientific diving.

Underwater visual census (UVC) surveys to collect data on fish and benthic communities, line intercept transects and coral reef surveys includes a few of the specialized skills and techniques the group will be learning.

To enhance their diving skills, our team will be introducing a new element to their training. To support the students in their surveys, we are offering video surveys, which will develop their survey techniques when analysing and comparing data. We have designed this additional training with the students’ benefit in mind, as scientific diving and underwater research requires good diving skills.

Past groups of USW students have witnessed the beautiful Whale Sharks when snorkeling with the worlds’ largest fish species in our TAR marine park playground, and this group have a very good chance too – so here’s hoping!

Get in touch with our Sabah Travel Centre for a personalised itinerary for your group looking to receive a unique marine education program at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in Kota Kinabalu!

A Downbelow adventure is a unique education of marine and wildlife!

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In support of World Wildlife Day, our 20-strong adventure group from Denmark take a mass selfie to raise awareness that they are ‘Serious About Wildlife Crime’, as they gain a unique education on marine and wildlife during their Downbelow adventure!

Resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann encourages our newly qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors, Azhar and Kerry, to share their own experiences in marine conservation. The two have many experiences, from beach clean-ups to ‘Ghost Net’ removals, which they can draw from to relate the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty presentation for their student divers’ knowledge development!

Newly qualified PADI Open Water Divers, such as our Danish adventurers’, are equally passionate as the PADI professionals of our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, and our Go PRO internship candidates assist for their own experience of contributing to the marine environment!

‘Expedition Borneo’, is a 30-day program we personalised for our adventure groups of young travellers from Denmark, which offers a unique educational approach through various activities at choice ecotourism operations.

For more information on holidays that help to make a positive difference, get in touch with our Sabah Travel Centre in Kota Kinabalu, where our experienced and helpful will create a program catered to you and your adventure group to explore Kota Kinabalu and Sabah!

Go PRO underwater in Sabah…and on Mount Kinabalu!

Friday, March 13th, 2015 @ 08:00 Climb Mt Kinabalu, News, Professional Diving Internships

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Abdullah, is a recent graduate of our Go PRO internship programs, who happened to pull it off! He managed to Go PRO underwater in Sabah…and on Mount Kinabalu!

In a 2-month professional scuba diving internship program our Go PRO advisors personalised for Abdullah, he completed the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) to begin his Sabah adventure!

Once he received his qualification as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor after the Kota Kinabalu PADI Instructor Examination (IE), he wanted to experience another adventure before leaving. Our Go PRO advisors suggested climbing Mount Kinabalu in a convenient 2D1N program, and the chance to participate on the Guinness World Records’ highest via Ferrata from Low’s Peak summit at 3,776m!

To record the incredible journey he’s had over the last couple of months (in which time he learnt so much about Borneo culture) Abdullah invested in a GoPro HERO4 camera. It was very easy to use with the POV pole and a great companion to have during the climb for him re-live the challenge and achievement of reaching the peak, as well as descending via Ferrata!

Get more information when you contact our Kota Kinabalu HQ, where one of our Sabah Travel Centre experts will create a detailed itinerary just for you to experience Sabah adventures to suit you!