Gaya Island, Borneo

Gaya Island is an island off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, the Malaysian part of Borneo. The intension of this trip was to tick off my life long dream of scuba diving and where better to do it than Borneo. Thinking I would start by doing my PADI qualification I booked in with Dive Down Below for the week.

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My accommodation I booked separately which was on the mainland, a place called Lavender Lodge which comes highly recommended from myself and others. It is a hostel but extremely clean and in a western style (not to be confused with the wild west) so no bathroom surprises there.

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But onto the real reason why I came here, the scuba diving. You know when you have an idea in your head about something, and you just know you will love it? Well I have come to learn since travelling that what I think I will like and what I actually like are two very different stories. I had visions of some National Geographic documentary where the divers spoke to each other and just glided through the water (I know, I know). After suiting up and staggering to the shoreline with my tank and extra weighted belt I proceeded to wade for what seemed like forever across the stretching shore.

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Carefully submerging myself, I took a few breaths and immediately stood up again. I hated it. I hated the sounds, the feeling and especially the fact that it felt like I might suffocate. Being typically British I was too embarrassed to say anything to the group but to this day with 6 dives in my book from a few countries, I still despise diving. The week before I had had emergency surgery in Vietnam and after the fist day it had really taken a toll on me. For the record, I wasn’t entirely sure that my Vietnamese doctor who had limited French and no English had understood ‘plongée sous-marine’ accompanied by me acting it out on his desk.

Once I was under and had equalised I did forget about everything and enjoy the experience but I always had that uneasy feeling and I reckon I might be the only person on the planet who hates diving. Everyone that I’ve spoken to seems to think I’m crazy and even in one place in Thailand they wanted to refuse my board as I wasn’t going to do a dive!

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I spent the remainder of my time on Gaya Island exploring, snorkelling, trekking and kayaking which gave me a taste of the whole island but also wasn’t putting pressure on my body like the scuba diving was. I made a good friend in a black Labrador cross who accompanied me on my trek through the rainforest to the other side of the island. Kayaking was great for exploring, I was given a walkie-talkie and kayaked to nearby uninhabited beaches collecting plastic, it’s such a shame that the locals do not respect the beauty of their country.

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That concludes my adventures on Gaya Island, this trip was at the start of my travels more than three years ago however it’s such a beautiful and unusual place so deserves a post. I am glad I finally got around to sharing and if anyone else dislikes diving as much as I do then I would love to hear about your story!

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Useful links

Dive Down Below

Lavender Lodge

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