Sea Walking at the Largest Pontoon of South East Asia (Borneo Reef World)

sea walking
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Have you ever imagined walking under the sea without gill? Well, it is not a dream, you don’t even need to know how to swim or have special skill such as scuba diving. I had tried sea walking last week at Borneo Reef World, the largest reef activity pontoon in Southeast Asia. This pontoon is a floating platform on the sea off Sapi Island of Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah, Malaysia.

sea walking
Pic: sea walking allows you to have fun underwater without getting your hair wet.

reef activity pontoon on the sea
Pic: Borneo Reef World is only 15 minutes by boat from KK city. You can see Sapi Island at the left and Gaya Island at the right (See location map).

There are a few fun stuffs to check out on this pontoon. Let’s start with their Underwater Observatory.

Underwater Observatory

Just follow the staircase that leads to the bottom of the deck and you would be greeted by hundreds of reef fishes living in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

underwater observatory
The Underwater Observatory is a 20-Meter air-conditioned walkway about 4 Meters under the sea.

underwater observatory of Borneo Reef World
The glass windows turn the Underwater Observatory into a natural aquarium.

underwater observatory of reef pontoon
So who is in the “fish tank”? Fishes or people?

Sea Walking

Sea Walking (or Helmet Diving) is the highlight of my tour. Though I am a scuba diver, I wonder if the feeling is the same in sea walking.

briefing before sea walking
Pic: Briefing before the sea walking. This activity is so safe that even non-swimmers can join. A few staffs will follow you into the water and watch your every steps. The sea walking is carried out 5-Meter underwater for 20 minutes (Fee: RM150 ≈ USD50).

entering the water
Basically, they just put a helmet over your head, and a long (yellow) pipe, which provides oxygen, is connected to this helmet. When you walk deeper into the sea, you will feel a bit of discomfort in your eardrum in the beginning, due to increased water pressure. Just pause once in a while, equalize (as instructed in briefing) and let your ears adapt, and you shall be fine to proceed. Scuba divers can dive more than 20 Meters deep without problem, so 5-Meter is… nothing. Just go slow and don’t be panic.

photo with staff
Walking with this helmet under the sea was like having an adventure in outer space and Abyss. The feeling is funny in the water with dry head. Don’t worry, the helmet won’t float away.

sea walking in reef pontoon
There were schools of fishes swimming around me, so close that I could almost touch them. It was very quiet under the ocean. All I heard was the bubbling from my helmet. We couldn’t hear one another talking too.

sea walking
Hey, someone shit on her helmet!

sea cucumber
Just kidding, it is a sea cucumber.

sea walking
This sea cucumber turned long in lady’s hand. Don’t know why..

sea walking 5 Meters underwater
To keep our eyes and hands busy, the staffs brought us some coral and sea cucumber for a touch & feel experience.

You may watch the 90-sec Sea Walking video below:

Click Here for wider video

Snorkeling

The snorkeling mask, fins and life jacket are provided onboard, so you can snorkel in the sea near Sapi and Gaya islands.

snorkeling at reef pontoon
Pic: the platform for snorkellers.

snorkeling
Pic: group photo with a floating dead body, just joking.

coral

brain coral
The corals there are in ok condition and I saw many colorful fishes. The day was cloudy so the visibility was poor underwater that day, otherwise I would have gotten better photos.

If you really love watersport, you may join their Discovery Scuba Diving, which requires no open diver license.

The Pontoon

The reef activity pontoon of Borneo Reef World is 880 Square Meters in size and 37.35 Meters in length. It can accommodate up to 500 people onboard. Personally, I think it’s the most suitable for a group of 100 people to have a private party. The pontoon has 3 levels, i.e., underwater observatory, lower deck and upper deck.

dining area of Borneo Reef World
Pic: the lower deck is the dining and main activity area. I had salad, rice, noodle, fish, prawns, tropical fruit, etc. as lunch here. Btw, there is free flow of coffee.

upper deck of reef pontoon
Pic: the upper deck area is wide

The pontoon is stable (in case you are prone to seasick) and built with high marine grade rust-proof aluminium. There are already some pontoons operate in Great Barrier Reef of Australia. I’m happy that Sabah has the largest pontoon in South East Asia.

Sapi and Gaya Island

To see more of its surrounding, you may watch the 2.5-minute video of walking tour on this pontoon:

Click Here for wider video

How to Get There

Borneo Reef World has operated since Jun 2012 and now open for public. You can book the tour with Dynamic Holiday Cruise (License: KPL/LN 4117), the owner and operator of the reef pontoon. Below is their contact info:

Tel: +60 88-241908 (Office), +60 16-8325179 (Mobile)
Address: Suite2-4, Second Floor, Kompleks Asia City, Jalan Asia City, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Website: http://www.borneoreefworld.com.my
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Borneo-Reef-World/
E-mail: enquiry@borneoreefworld.com.my

Sabah Parks jetty
Pic: jetty of Sabah Parks (behind Wisma Merdeka building in KK). See Location Map

They depart from Sabah Parks jetty on Fri, Sat and Sun.
Boarding Time: 9:00 AM / 11:30 AM
Return Time: 2:30 PM / 4.30 PM

Borneo Reef World

The standard rate is RM295 (≈USD89) for adult (above 12 years old). Child who is 4-12 years old gets 50% off (Fees include: Jetty Fee (RM7.00), PA Insurance (RM3.00) and Fuel Surcharge (RM30.00)). Please contact them for updated fees.

The day tour package includes:

  • Buffet lunch
  • Return boat transfer
  • Life jacket, mask, snorkel & fins

Please bring sun block lotion, towel, hats and cloth for changing.

More Photos

Below are 48 more photos for your enjoyment:

www.flickr.com

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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  • LHS

    Sea cucumber sashimi….as fresh as it could get…. :)

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Lol, next time I should bring knife and fork with me in sea walking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.lohtt Chris Loh

    What happened to not disturbing the environment by not touching anything. Letting guest touch anenome, might as well give them jelly fish to touch. That would be more fun. Keep this up and there will not be anything left to see

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Hi Chris, thank you for your comment. Just to clear the misunderstanding. This pontoon is environmentally friendly and the operator also contributes to the conservation (e.g. coral planting) of the marine park. Please read more at: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/12/01/sabahs-first-pro-conservation-pontoon/

    IMHO, touching the sea cucumber and anemone is no big deal and I view it as an awareness programme. Besides, many places have Touch Tank that allows tourists to touch the marine lives, and no environmental body complains that such practice hurts the animals.

  • Lepa travel

    Can I have your contract rate please ,can you mail for me by today before 15:00pm . We are travel agent here.this is our email address: lepatravel@yahoo.com. Thank you

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    I’m not the operator of the pontoon. You may contact Dynamic Holiday Cruise (see contact detail in my blog).

  • Quinnie

    Hi dear,

    I’m first time visiting Kota Kinabalu.
    I’m so interested into the sea-walking activity and snorkeling at Pulau Sapi. I read the comment from internet, Pulau Sapi have less visitor thus it is more clean.

    My question is simple, is the sea-walking package come with snorkelling? Recently I saw a promotion in groupon which cost RM220 for an adult for under sea walking, im not sure it is worth to buy. Looks expensive to me tho.

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Hi Quinnie, the standard price of sea walking is RM295, so you got a good deal. Normally sea walking package includes snorkeling. However, you better check with your agent just to be sure.