Located near the equator, Brunei is blessed with bountiful sunshine and hot, humid weather year round. Couple this with the beautiful sand beaches that line the country’s coastline and Brunei’s obscure nature, and you get a bit of a haven for beach bums and water sports buffs. Here, we walk you through some of the country’s most notable beaches and water sports clubs.
This popular beach has all the activities any water sports lover could ever wish for: Jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, powerboat racing, aqua sports training, water skiing and even banana boat rides. The beach has amenities such as picnic shelters equipped with barbecue grills, resting huts and restrooms. Stalls selling items such as fresh food, fruit, fish, handicraft and even pets can be found here.
Close to the beach’s entrance is the Royal Brunei Yacht Club (RBYC). Opened in 1980, the popular clubhouse comes alive during the weekends and holidays. An open-air restaurant serves delicious fare – particularly its seafood menu – and is a strong draw for families due to its cozy and relaxed ambiance. Besides yachting, club members also have access to an uncovered swimming pool, children’s play area, full shower and changing facilities and an air-conditioned room with large-screen TV. There is also a popular Thai restaurant next to RBYC.
Tungku Beach is a favourite among local surfers due to its workable waves (measuring up to four feet high and 150 metres in length on average) – a rarity for Brunei beaches. Located just across The Empire Hotel & Country Club, this popular hangout is a hive of activity especially during the weekends for picnicking families, people playing Frisbee or beach volleyball and riders motoring away through the sand on quad bikes (ATV).
This secluded beach is owned and run by The Empire Hotel & Country Club. Hotel guests and beachgoers are treated to breathtaking views of the South China Sea. Those who nd that a gentle stroll along the beach or wade in the shallows is insufcient in sating their love of the sea and need for that adrenaline rush can go for a bit of canoeing, kayaking or jet skiing – all provided by the hotel.
A very nice and popular beach for picnics, swimming and even a bit of shing. Located in Tutong, amenities at Seri Kenangan Beach include food kiosks, barbecue pits, a children’s playground, outdoor gym area and changing rooms. Of note is a narrow, spit-like section of the beach with the South China Sea on one side and the calm Tutong River on
Panaga Club, located in Kuala Belait, is Brunei Shell Petroleum’s (BSP) social, sports and leisure facility. With over 1,200 members, the club offers a host of recreational and water sports activities it offers. From Panaga Beach, members get to enjoy activities such as dinghy sailing, windsurng, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Other water sports activities like cruising, diving, power boating, fishing and rowing are hosted at the KBBC – part of the Panaga Club.
This tranquil country is renowned more for its oil reserves and dense, tropical rainforest than for being a diving destination. Yet, Brunei is garnering a reputation as a niche diving country. Year-on-year diving visitors – both international and local – have been increasing.
Notable for its wreck diving, beneath the Sultanate’s waters lie several World War II shipwrecks and sunken oil rigs. Coupled with its warm tropical waters (averaging 27-29 degrees Celsius), and some 4,500 hectares of unspoiled coral reef, Brunei is a bucket list travel destination for serious divers.
Divers are advised to visit Brunei during the dry season between March and October, as diving conditions are good and much safer during these hot months, when the sea is calm and underwater visibility is good. Such conditions also favour macro photography – of which Brunei is famous for; its waters teem with exotic marine life, such
as the largest species of nudibranch, leopard shrimps, lionsh, and some of the world’s largest concentrations of allied cowries.
There are a few diving operators in Brunei. The main ones are located in the Brunei-Muara district: Oceanic Quest and Poni Divers. The former is the rst dive operator in the country having been around since 2010 and is staffed with experienced divemasters. It focuses primarily on providing diving services. Poni Divers, on the other hand, on top of diving, provides other watersports services such as banana boat rides, wakeboarding and jet- skiing.
Lying on its port side at a 50 degree angle and slowly collapsing into the sand at 35 metres under the sea, the Australian wreck has become a very popular diving spot. Originally a Dutch passenger/ cargo steamer called the S.S. De Clerk, it was converted into a troop carrier in 1942 during World War II. While transporting 1,210 personnel to the Philippines from Singapore, the ship – renamed the Imbaru Maru by the Japanese – struck a Japanese
mine at 0945 hours on September 16, 1944 and sank, taking 339 lives with it.
The Japanese cargo ship, MV Tung Hwang, with its cargo of cement for the construction of the Sultan of Brunei’s palace, sank when it hit the Samarang Banks in Sabah waters en route to Brunei. Its wreck now lies on the sandy seabed at a depth of 32 metres. Encrusted in soft corals and feather stars, the ship remains fairly intact, apart from the damage to the bow where it struck the bank.
Located roughly 1.4 kilometres from the Australian Wreck and 30 metres undersea lies the half-split, crumpled remains of the USS Salute. It previously served as an escort ship before being converted into a minesweeper – joining the Mine Division 34 in the South China Sea. The vessel, which was awarded ve Battle Stars for her role in World War II, sank after striking a mine in 1945 during the Allies’ preinvasion sweep of Brunei Bay. Various war goods – including rounds of ammunition – and even skeletons can still be found on deck.
Also known as the Mabini Padre, the Blue Water Wreck was named due to its location far offshore, out in blue waters. The wreck was previously a large shing trawler that sank in 1981 after a fire broke out onboard. The vessel lies on her portside at 35 metres below sea level and is considered to be the best of all the shipwrecks in Brunei waters.
The Petani Mistral was a tug ship that sank after being swept onto a leg of the Trident-12 rig in 1995. She now sits upright at a depth of 47 metres with its mast still intact. The wreck lies off the coast of Brunei between Jerudong and Kuala Belait.
The Yuho Maru was a Japanese wartime tanker that sank in 1944 after getting hit by a torpedo from an American submarine. Previously mistaken for one of three Toho Marus that sank during World War II, the wreck now lies around 55 metres undersea. Due to its depth, this wreck is only suitable for technical divers.
It is one of the favourites among the diving community. Scattered here off the waters of Berakas at a depth of 19 metres are fragments of a decommissioned oil rig which was sunk by BSP in 1994. Divers will encounter large schools of chevron barracudas, jacks and other fish species. There is also an abundance of marine life on the sandy sea oor – a real treat for underwater macro photographers.
These tiny outcrop of rocks – also known as Pulau Pilong-Pilongan – located just ve kilometres off the coast of Muara Beach is a popular site for first-time or training dives. The shallow, surrounding waters are thriving with a surprising amount of marine life such as anemones and resident clownsh. Underwater visibility here can be bad due its proximity to the shore; the fairly strong currents and considerable surge in the shallows stirring up and clouding the waters with silt and sand.
Resembling an underwater garden, this reef is known for its various unspoilt soft and hard corals which shelter a wonderful array of reef sh. A large colony of beautiful Gorgonians can be found here and encounters with seahorses are common as these fan-like cnidarians serve as hosts to them. Average reef depth is 11 metres, with water temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius.
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