Shark Sightings – Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Shark Sightings  - Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

We are often asked what kind of sharks can be seen in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

So we thought we would write a short post about the Sharks you might see whilst SCUBA Diving with us on our local Dive Sites.

The BIG gun is the Whaleshark – Rhincodon typus.

Throughout March and April these beautiful creatures can be seen within the TAR Park when their migration paths bring them to our region.

Easily identified they are the largest fish in the ocean growing up to approx 18m in length.

Dots and lines pattern their huge bodies and they are generally seen here close to the surface waters.

A resident Shark species in the TAR Park is the Black Tip Reef Shark Carcharhinus melanopterus (image above left, photographed on a local dive site)

As its name suggests, the tips of the shark’s pectoral fin and dorsal fin are black, with a white underside.

We often see very cute and harmless Juvenile Black Tip Reef Sharks in our bay at Gaya Island.

Another resident and fairly commonly encountered Shark is the Bamboo Shark / Brown Banded Cat Shark – Chiloscyllium punctatum. (Bamboo Sahrk: Image below)

Shark Sightings  - Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

To an in-experienced eye the the Bamboo Shark is often mistaken as a Juvenile Nurse Shark – Ginglymostoma cirratum (Nurse Shark: Image below right)

However once you’ve encountered both Sharks and with a little bit of knowledge and experience the Bamboo Shark can be easily identified.

Shark Sightings

Both Sharks are nocturnal hunters. Nurse Sharks are a larger and bolder Shark, they can be seen resting on the seabed or beneath coral blocks but they do not need to hide away for protection particularly once they have reached maturity.

Whereas the much smaller and timid Bamboo Shark will hide deep in the coral reef during the day, seeking protection from larger predators.

The body of a Bamboo Shark is noticeably slender, especially when compared to the head whereas the Nurse Shark has a very chunky body, as wide if not wider than its head, (notice the head and body shape of the Nurse Shark on the plate below left).

A very quick and easy way to recognize a Bamboo Shark is to look at the gill slits – they are edged in white, differentiating them from the Nurse Shark.

Bamboo Shark

A Juvenile Bamboo Shark has brown bands along the body, as the shark matures these lines fade to a solid grey.

Most often young Nurse Shark have tiny spots which usually fade to a solid dark / grey / brown solid colour as the Shark matures.

Nurse Sharks can grow to 4m in length and are not seen in the TAR Park, their known distribution is Western Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific, a closely related species lives in the Indian Ocean.

The Bamboo Shark grows to approx 1.2m and can be found throughout Indo – West Pacific.

Very occasionally we may see other species of Shark and by nature all are harmless to humans – unless provoked.



PADI Rescue Diver Course – Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu Sabah

PADI Rescue Diver Course - Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Congratulations on completing your PADI Rescue Diver Course to James, Mairi, Ashley, Kenny and David (pictured left to right) with Richard (far left).

James and Mairi have joined us for long tern Internship Programs, they are enjoying UNLIMITED Scuba Diving throughout their internship.

Now that they have achieved their PADI Rescue Diver qualification they will soon begin the next stage of their training which is the PADI Divemaster Internship Course.

Ashley and Kenny have been with us for several months as local internship candidates.

Ashley also works in the office at our Dive Centre based on Gaya island and Kenny is one of our Snorkel Guides – over then next few months they will both progress on to the PADI Divemaster Course.

David, joined us with his wife for 6 days, he completed his Emergency First Response Course and PADI Rescue Diver Course whilst his wife Jacky completed her PADI Open Water Diver Course, they both then enjoyed 2 Days of Daily Diving in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

Well done guys and girls – now enjoy some great diving and we’ll progress to the next stage !!

Anyone can apply to join our program, for more information please see our Professional PADI Internship Program dedicated web pages or contact us.


Family Scuba Diving 3 Day Package

Many thanks for the pictures.

We will add them to our memories of Dive Downbelow and KK.

We had a terrific time.

The set-up, the gear and especially the staff made it a first-rate dive. I was very pleased with the extra time Richard and the others spent with the kids to make sure they had a great time.

As you know, I already recommended Dive Downbelow to Mike Kelly (he and
Amanda had a great time). And I will recommend you to everyone who asks.

We are already talking about our next trip to KK.

Say hi to Karen at Moonbell. (Mike and Amanda really enjoyed their meal

If you come through Singapore, please look us up.

Comments from Lauren & Alex:

“Thank you so much for a terrific diving experience.

I really enjoyed seeing all the wildlife and coral underwater, and seeing all the turtles!

I really enjoyed the food, and all your helpful staff and you. :)

I would immediately recommend it to my friends. :)

Thanks for everything.

We told our friend Mike & Amanda Kelley about it and their experience was like ours (except the turtles).

We really enjoyed having all those great dive sites to dive on.”

The kids are ready to go back!!

All the best,
Doug, Lauren + Alex Foy


Family Scuba Diving 3 Day Package

Scuba Diving The Rock, West Coast Sabah, Borneo

Scuba Diving The Rock, West Coast Sabah, Borneo

Downbelow PADI 5 Star Dive Centre are very excited to offer an additional offshore dive site to our dive site portfolio.

“The Rock” is located outside of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park but we can access it on calmer days.

With our fast speed boats in less than 1 hour from our PADI 5 Star Dive & Adventure Centre which is based on Gaya Island in TAR National Park.

For a very small additional fuel surcharge on top of our Daily Diving Package, we are offering The Rock dive site as a two tank dive package.

Scuba Diving The Rock, West Coast Sabah, Borneo

We set out for the dive site in the morning to explore what it has to offer.

Then we  return to our dive centre for freshly cooked lunch with a boat dive in the TAR National park in the afternoon.

Visibility at The Rock dive site is very good, our last trip saw 30m plus visibility.

The Rocks topography and marine life make it a very interesting addition to our range of dive sites.

Unfortunately like many offshore dive sites outside of the protected marine park the coral has experienced damage due to detrimental fishing methods.

However its visibility and hidden treasures more than make up for the lack of soft corals, so it’s quite a worthwhile outing.

Scuba Diving The Rock, West Coast Sabah, Borneo

In challenging conditions some critters thrive – scorpionfish, lionfish, clownfish and nudibranchs, bamboo sharks, rays and schooling mackrel can be found.

The Rock dive site is suited to novice and more advanced divers alike, photographers won’t know whether to go wide angle and bask in the glorious visibility or stick with macro for its diversity of critter life!

Please ask our staff team for more information on this interesting dive site – subject to availability and weather we can go there everyday !!!

We are the only Dive Centre offering this variety of dive locations !!


SCUBA Dive Shop & Adventure Travel Centre Kota Kinabalu

We have expanded again and moved our Scuba Dive Shop and Adventure Travel Centre to KK Times Square in the city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Scuba Dive Shop & Adventure Travel Centre Kota Kinabalu

Complementing our paradise PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya Island within the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park – together our two facilities make up our PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre.

Scuba Dive Shop & Adventure Travel Centre Kota Kinabalu

Our Dive Shop and Travel Centre is a place for existing and potential clients to visit and discover what Sabah has to offer both on land and Downbelow !

Reservations for adventure travel, Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Kinabatangan wildlife packages, Lankayan, Kapalai and Layang Layang among others can also be explored and booked at our travel centre.

Our Dive Shop & Travel Centre is a hive of activity and information.

Run by experienced marine and wildlife enthusiasts who love to explore, research and photograph the surrounding rainforest & reefs of the Tunku Abdul Rahman ParkPulau Tiga and beyond!

There are books and posters to help identify your latest underwater discoveries and helpful friendly staff to assist and inform you of the activities, courses and programs we run.

Scuba Dive Shop & Adventure Travel Centre Kota Kinabalu

We are resellers for Suunto, Atomic Aquatics, BARE Wetsuits, Sherwood Scuba, AKONA, Unidive, Dive Rite and more. We sell a selection of clothing and cool boxes plus many diving accessories.

For more information please visit our dedicated dive shop section of the website or Contact US.


Lankayan Island Holiday

Dear Joanne!

Thank you very much for Lankayan :) – it was perfect. Even with two kids it was relaxing, peaceful and very beautiful.

We lived in the biggest chalet with 2 floors, and when we decided to sleep on the balcony last night, big green turtle went for a nesting right near the next chalet… and 3 military tried to send her back into the water, and she was quite heavy, because the place was not proper – in between 3 trees… Finally with deep breath she swam away.

Also we dived several times :) Seems that my head is still there.

Thank you from all of us.


Lankayan Island Holiday

PADI Divemaster & PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Internship Course Kota Kinabalu Sabah


PADI Divemaster & PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Internship Course Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Welcome to Downbelow’s new Professional Internship Candidates James, Marie, Lee and Fedils.

James (far right) has joined us for 8 months, joining us as a PADI Open Water Diver, he will continue his education through to Master Scuba Diver Trainer.

Marie has joined us for 2 months, completing her Recuse and Divemaster Internship.

Lee (far left) and Fedilis have joined our local internship program that will see them become PADI Divemasters within 1 year of full time training.

Our Internship program has become very popular and successful.

The programs represent great value for money, provide exceptional experiences and training and at the same time they are great fun.

On all our internships you receive UNLIMITED scuba diving. We can offer this because our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre is based within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park with direct access to our training lagoon & house reef.

Based only 10 minutes from the City of Kota Kinabalu, we dive everyday !

Annually we run a minimum of two Instructor Development Courses (IDC) to co-inside with these two IDC courses we run 1 month – 1year internship programs, which can be joined at any time throughout the year.

Our internship programs cater for people who are complete beginners to the sport of diving and those more experienced.

We include very affordable accommodation to participants.

Continuing education is offered to the already certified PADI Instructor as Emergency First Response Instructor, Master Scuba Diver Trainer and IDC Staff Instructor.

Anyone can apply to join our program, for more information please see our Professional PADI Internship Program dedicated web pages or contact us.


British Navy & Royal Marines Adventure Training – Kota Kinabalu Sabah

British Navy & Royal Marines Adventure Training - Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Having completed a successful Adventure Training Event for the the British Royal Navy we just wanted to post a few images of their various activities.

Throughout the 10 day program activities included Scuba Diving, Trekking, Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Dingy Sailing and Deep Sea Fishing with approximately 90 participants.

The Royal Navy we visiting Kota Kinabalu and were collected daily from Sabah Ports, previous military and corporate groups have chosen to camp at our PADI 5 Star IDC Instructor Development Center on Gaya Island or stay in the city of Kota Kinabalu – all budgets and objectives can be accommodated.

Sabah is ideally suited as a location for Adventure Training and Team Building Activities.

Within the state we have access to some of the best hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, jungle trekking, wildlife safaris, river and sea kayaking, scuba diving, white water rafting, coastline, tropical islands and ocean anywhere in the world.

British Navy & Royal Marines

Using the countries natural environment and skills of our local staff, we run a wide range of programs, activities and courses for many different people.

On each you will find high standards of safety, experienced and well qualified staff and flexibility to your needs and to the conditions.

We are activity involved in a number of marine and environmental conservation and awareness initiatives, we include these concepts within our programs.

Adventure Training and Team Building

Adventure training complements both individual and collective development and should:

– Planned and executed with proper supervision by qualified staff
– Have well defined objectives, with clear instruction
– Provide mental stimulation by exposure to the perceived element of risk
– Stimulate initiative and teamwork

British Navy & Royal Marines

Throughout our programs participants face personal challenges and as a group work together to achieve a common goal.

Often in alien environments, understanding and comradery is key to success.

We specialize in bespoke Adventure Training, taking the brief from the client and formulating itineries to suit group size and duration.

Should you choose, from the moment you or your group arrive in Sabah you are greeted by us.

All logistics, meals refreshment and accommodation are taken care of and full equipment provided.

To see images of this event plus previous events please see our Adventure Training Groups Photo Albums.

British Navy & Royal Marines

Visit our Adventure Training and Corporate Events page for more information about the activities we can organise.



You Really are 5 Star !!!

I just want to give a big thank you to all of the Downbelow staff for making me feel so welcome in my short time visiting the Island.

And many thanks to James as you are an excellent tutor!

If you would be kind enough to send me some info on the internship such as costs etc i would be very appreciative.

Thanks again



You Really are 5 Star !!!