Reef Diving in Brunei

Diving in Brunei is still not exactly under the radar of many divers as compared to regions like Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Therefore, reefs in Brunei are purely untouched and healthy, full of colours and life. They are relatively shallow, but current can be fairly strong depending on the time of the year. Visibility was in fact quite bad on the few occasions that I’ve dived.

Divers should be spoilt for choice of reef diving sites. There are many of reefs to choose from; Abana Reef, Ampa Patches, Brunei Patches, Pelong Rocks, Rig Reef, Hornet’s Reef, Victoria Patches, Porter Patch, Chearnley Shoals, Fairley Patches, Iron Duke Shoals, Littledale Shoal, just to name a few.

Below are some of the few reefs I’ve dived at.

Abana Reef – It’s like a little underwater garden, for it’s wide variety of soft and hard corals which sheltered a wonderful wide array of reef fish. Lots of sea whips or sea fans, which makes an ideal habitat for seahorses. Spotted 1, however, with the surge current and bad visibility, i was unable to get a good shot of the seahorse.
Maximum depth: 12 metres
Date of dive: September 2012
Visibility: 8 metres
Current: Surge current (As reef is located approx. 5km NE of the Brunei port of Muara)
Water temperature: 28°C

Rig Reef South – Rig Reef is built-up of decommissioned offshore oil rigs, which were sunk by Shell in 1994 to provide an artificial reef for marine life. There are a total of 9 structures sunken, spread within 100 metres. Heading north of the structures, you will be able to see a real coral reef if the visibility is good. Rig reef house a wide diversity of marine life, soft and hard corals, sponges, gorgonians, all building up on the legs of the rigs, providing great photography opportunities. And if you’re lucky, you may find schools of snapper, barracuda, sweetlips and jacks swirling around.
Maximum depth: 16 metres
Date of dive: December 2012
Visibility: 8 metres
Current: Mild
Water temperature: 28°C

Pelong Ridges – One of the closest reef to Muara shore, thus subject to bad visibility and perhaps strong surge current at times. However, it’s a site worth diving for. A haven for corals and vast variety of marine life.
Maximum depth: 15 metres
Date of dive: December 2012
Visibility: 5 metres
Current: Mild surge current
Water temperature: 28°C

Barat Banks – To be exact, we were at Barat South. Corals were all scattered across the sand bed thus you’ll need a pair of sharp eyes and a little patience to spot the marine life. Some have spotted mantis shrimp, lion fish, frog fish, crown fish, etc.
Maximum depth: 18 metres
Date of dive: January 2013
Visibility: 3-5 metres
Current: Mild
Water temperature: 26°C (was cold then)