Image provided by Ram Yoro from Poni Divers.

Brunei – Asia’s fourth smallest country, is located on the island of Borneo in South East Asia. Surrounded by Malaysia and also Indonesia to the south of the Malaysian border, Brunei is said to be the second richest country in Asia (after Singapore) and sixth in the world when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). Due to its size, Brunei is often forgotten about as a travel destination, let alone a scuba diving destination. However, due to its location on the northwest edge of Borneo (or Kalimantan as the Indonesian part is known) its proximity to the famed ‘Coral Triangle’ is slowly making it a popular dive location.

Reaching Brunei is easy – its international airport Brunei International Airport (BWN) is located in the nation’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan and it can also be reached overland from Malaysian Borneo. An oil-rich country, the roads and infrastructure in Brunei are excellent, population sits at approx. 45     0,000 and the main language spoken is Malay – which differs slightly from the Bahasa Malay spoken in Malaysia and Bahasa in Indonesia. You’ll also find that English and Mandarin are also spoken in the country.

Image provided by Oceanic Quest

Known for its beaches (many of which are protected in reserves) and diverse rainforest, venturing underwater can be somewhat surprising. With warm tropical waters at an average of 27°C (80.6°F) yearly, the weather can be unpredictable so diving can be done year round however the best months are from March until November. Looking for the best visibility? Then the months of March      until November are best,      

Brunei is home to colourful reefs, many that are unexplored and have hundreds of species of hard and soft corals with a huge variety of reef fish and invertebrates that reside within. With approx. 60 dive sites and over 30 shipwrecks at a variety of depths ranging from 5 metres (16 feet) down to 70 metres (229 feet) from WWII wrecks to old oil rigs, these waters are also popular with the macro enthusiast. The first four wrecks listed below are known in Brunei and the diving community as the ‘big four’, and not to be missed by any diver or underwater photographer.

Australian Wreck

With a misleading name, the “Australian Wreck” is actually a Dutch steamer built in 1909 named the SS De Klerk and scuttled by the Dutch off the Malaysian peninsular in 1942, she was refloated and used by the Japanese only to sink after hitting a Japanese mine in 1944. The easiest wreck to penetrate off Brunei, its hull is 85 metres (278 feet) long and is mainly intact on a sandy bottom, although with a tilt to its port side. Don’t have your PADI Wreck Diver specialty? You can explore its open upper decks and cargo holds whilst those that do can explore two or three of the lower decks.      

Image provided by Wong Thye Sing from Poni Divers.

American Wreck

A WWII wreck built in 1943 as a 75m Navy minesweeper named “USS Salute”, it was sunk by a Japanese mine in 1945 and now lies in half at 34 metres (111 feet) on a sandy bottom. The most broken up all of the wrecks in the area, it’s not advisable to penetrate the wreck – instead divers will enjoying exploring the outside of both halves and the military artefacts on the sea bed – its gun turrets and barrels are still intact, there are small arms ammunition around the bow and even wine bottles, cutlery and shoes strewn about. Fish life is abundant – you’ll see yellowtails, barracuda and jackfish aplenty.

Oil Rig Reef

A decommissioned oil rig belonging to Brunei Shell Petroleum as part of the rigs to reefs program, it was cut up into nine jackets and sunk across an area of 100 square metres as an artificial reef in 1994. Located off the coast from Berakas city at a depth of 19 metres (62 feet), the reef showcases many gorgonian fan corals, large schools of jacks, chevron barracudas, puffer fish, bumphead parrotfish and groupers. A sandy bottom lends itself to macro lovers and divers with a wide angle lens – providing some awesome photographs of the structure and schools of fish.

Image provided by Wong Thye Sing from Poni Divers.

Pelong Rock          

A short boat ride brings you to Pelong Rock – home to a shallow and sheltered reef, it’s perfect for scuba diving novices and snorkelers. Ranging from 1 to 18 metres (3 to 59 feet), get up close and personal with angelfish, gobies, parrotfish, blue-spotted rays and of course everyone’s favourite – clownfish (Nemo!).

Dolphin Wreck

The Dolphin 88 was a Malaysian barge carrying a shipment of stones through Brunei waters when it hit bad weather and sank off Pelong Rocks in 2013. The ship split in half, with the back half sinking to a depth of 24 metres (78 feet). All 11 crew members were rescued, and the ship has now become one of our more popular wreck dives. The top of the wreck lies at 10 metres (32 feet), which makes it an ideal wreck for novice divers to explore. There are some excellent wreck penetration opportunities as well for more advanced divers.

Image provided by Fan Zhang from Poni Divers.

Bolkiah Wreck

Built in 1955, this passenger ferry measuring 34m long used to ferry locals between Labuan and Brunei in the 60s. After being decommissioned, M.V. Bolkiah could not be sold for scrap due to its Brunei royal name and was thus scuttled by the Royal Brunei Navy in 1992. It now sits at a bottom of 24 metres (78 feet) with a top depth of 18 metres (59 feet) and is teeming with rich coral life and macro-critters. Seahorses, Lionfishes and schooling Yellowtails make this favourite site their home.

Image provided by Ram Yoro from Poni Divers.

Petani Mistral

Technical divers also have the chance to dive two WWII wrecks in Brunei – one being the Petani Mistral. An entry level technical wreck, it’s a tug ship 58 metres (190 feet) long that sank in 1995 that sits upright at a depth of 48 metres (157 feet) with its top deck at 42 metres (137 feet), this makes it a most suitable wreck for beginner tech divers and tech courses. The shallowest of 5 tech wrecks in Brunei, two of which are WWII wrecks ranging down to 70 metre (229 feet) in depths, Brunei also offers something for the technical diver.

Image provided by Ram Yoro from Poni Divers.

For such a small country, the sheer amount of dive sites that Brunei boasts make it a perfect destination to tick off your scuba diving bucket list. Locate a PADI dive shop in Brunei and book in your next diving trip today!



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