Brunei Darussalam has plenty of sports and recreational activities ranging from badminton and swimming to horse riding and mountain biking to keep visitors active while on holiday. Furthermore, the facilities are well-maintained and peppered throughout the country.
Formerly known as Royal Brunei Recreation Club, Peak Performance Sendirian Berhad (PPSB) is open to members and walk-ins. Its facilities include a football field, a swimming pool and a multi-purpose hall for tennis, badminton, basketball, netball and squash. Their dance studio is used for ballet, hip hop, yoga and zumba. PPSB also offers fitness programmes including muay thai, yoga, calisthenics, spinning and total body resistance training. Coaching programmes include archery, football, futsal, swimming, tennis and fencing.
Located in Kuala Belait is the Brunei Shell Recreation Club, equipped with tennis courts, swimming pool and gym. The club is known for its horse riding activities open to the public, tailored to beginners as well as intermediate and advanced riders. Pony rides are also available for children.
Meanwhile, thrill seekers who crave for strategic and tactical teamwork are encouraged to try out the Paintball Arena in Jerudong, managed by Royal Brunei Technical Services.
Some sports in Brunei are native to Southeast Asia, one of which is sepak takraw. The sport has a similar setting to volleyball, except the ball is made of a sturdy material called rattan and people hit the ball with their feet instead of hands.
Visitors who would like to explore Brunei while keeping themselves active are recommended to browse through a selection of the recreational activity packages available in the country, one of which includes riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to explore the jungle beside the Tungku beach and enjoy the stunning scenery on the headland. Visitors can also tour the agricultural park at Katimahar village which boasts excellent off-roads tracks and a wide variety of flora and fauna. Along the way, visitors may stumble upon a water buffalo, a charming reminder of the traditional village life away from the city centre.
For an unforgettable biking experience, there are tour and training packages suited for riders of varying levels and interest to explore the local trails and lush jungles of Borneo.
Brunei has slowly grown to be the go-to diving destination. Its budding diving scene is fairly new, with the first diving company starting operations within the past decade. While the diving scene has garnered growing numbers of local and international divers, these dive spots are a great option for those who wish to beat the crowds in other diving hotspots.
Brunei’s waters are located in the outskirts of the Coral Triangle, hosting 4,500 hectares of untouched coral reef. Deep beneath the waters are shipwrecks, some from World War II, as well as sunken oil rigs. Some wrecks are only accessible for technical divers due to their depths, rendering them unsuitable as recreational diving spots.
Brunei’s dry season is between March and October, when diving is highly recommended. During these months, the sea is calm and divers are likely to encounter deeper underwater visibility. Brunei’s water averages 25-28 degrees Celsius, a warm tropical temperature ideal for diving. These conditions coupled with exotic marine life in vast quantities are perfect for macro photography, attracting underwater photographers. Examples of these marine lives include the largest species of nudibranch, leopard shrimps, lionfish and some of the world’s largest concentrations of allied cowries.
Two of the most prominent diving operators in the Sultanate are Oceanic Quest and Poni Divers. Both are situated in the Brunei-Muara District around the Serasa area. Founded in 2010, the Oceanic Quest is the first company in Brunei dedicated specifically to diving, staffed with experienced divemasters. Meanwhile, on top of diving, Poni Divers also conducts other watersport activities such as wakeboarding, banana boat rides and jet skiing. In 2017, both companies were tapped by the Tourism Development Board for a joint collaboration to further promote Brunei’s diving scene.
One of the Sultanate’s most well-known diving sites is the Australian wreck. It lies on its port side at a 50-degree angle and is slowly collapsing into the sand at 35 metres under the sea. Originally a Dutch passenger/cargo steamer called the S.S. De Clerk, the Australian Wreck was thought to be an Australian ship or a Japanese ship sunk by an Australian torpedo, hence the origin of its name. However, it was later proven that both theories were incorrect. In 1942, it was converted into a troop carrier during World War II. On September 16, 1944, while carrying 1,210 personnel from the Philippines to Singapore, the ship – renamed the Imbari Maru by the Japanese – struck a Japanese mine and sank. The incident claimed 339 lives. Tales of the 339 lives haunting the wreck are well known, though divers are encouraged to simply enjoy the marine life lingering around the wreck.
Ranging in depth from eight metres at its top to 32 metres at its sandy bottom, this shipwreck is home to soft corals, feather stars and enormous shoals of swirling bait fish. Originally the MV Tung Hwang, the Japanese fish was transporting cargoes of cement for the construction of the Sultan’s palace when it struck the Samarang Banks in Sabah en route to Brunei. The ship remains predominantly intact. Due to its feature, this wreck site is popular among macro photographers.
Originally an escort ship later converted into a minesweeper, the USS Salute sank after striking a mine in 1945, splitting it in two down the middle. During its zenith, it received 5 stars for its role in World War II after joining the Mine Division 34 in the South China Sea. Soft corals and the Yellow Tailed Barracuda now call it home, accompanied by various war goods and skeletons left behind.
The aptly named diving site is located 35 kilometres away from the shore, out in the blue waters. Previously a fishing trawler from the Philippines named the Mabini Padre, it sank in 1981 while fighting a fire which broke out onboard. Due to its location, visibility on this site is generally very good, treating divers to views of the whole wreck in one dive. It has a depth range of 24 to 35 metres, and is considered one of Brunei’s best shipwrecks.
Formerly a Malaysian barge transporting a shipment of stones through Bruneian waters, the Dolphin88 sank in 2013 when it was caught in bad weather and sank off Pelong Rocks. Left in half, the top of the wreck lies at 10 metres while its back half sank to a depth of 24 metres. A popular diving site, it is an excellent option for novice and experienced divers.
A passenger ferry built in 1955 in Hong Kong, it used to serve at the waters between Brunei and Labuan. The Royal Navy scuttled the vessel in 1992 following a rule that no vessel bearing the Brunei royal name should be sold for scrap. At its highest, the top of the wreck is at 18 metres while the deepest is at about 24 metres.
Another popular diving spot, the Oil Rig Wreck encompasses fragments of decommissioned oil rig structures. These structures were sunk by BSP as part of the Rigs to Reefs program in 1994. Greeting the divers at the wreck are large schools of chevron barracudas, jacks and other fish species, as well as artificial reef at a maximum depth of 18 metres. This diving site is another popular spot for macro photography.
Situated further from most of the regular dive sites is the Penanjung Wreck, also known as the Yewli Wreck. It was a tugboat which now lies at a depth of 24 metres and a high point of 17 metres. Though it is not often explored by divers due to its slightly distant location, it plays home to the elusive nurse sharks and sea snakes, making the trip out worth it.
The Petani Mistral was previously a tug ship that sank in 1995 after it caught one of the legs of the Trident-12 rig. It now lies at a depth of 47 metres between the coast of Jerudong and Kuala Belait. This site is only open to technical divers.
Another site open to technical divers, the Yuho Maru was a Japanese wartime tanker previously mistaken as one of the Toho Marus that sank during World War II. The tanker sank in 1944 following an attack from a torpedo released from an American submarine. The wreck lies 55 metres under the sea.
One of Brunei’s deepest diving sites at 63 metres, the Southern Glory was built in New Zealand in 1951 and was formerly called the Karoon. Before it sank in a storm, the Karoon exchanged ownerships many times between Malaysian and Singaporean businesses. Like the Yuho Maru and Petani Mistral, only technical divers have access to this diving site.
Situated five kilometres away from Muara Beach’s shores are these tiny outcrop of rocks which are also referred to as Pulau Pilong-Pilongan. The site is popular for first-time divers and is often used for training. However, due to its proximity to the shore, underwater visibility can be impaired. Currents and surges in the shallow water can prompt silt and sand to rise into the waters. Marine life thrives at the site, with anemones and various clownfish species often spotted.
Known for its great variety of untouched soft and hard corals, the Abana Reef is a large and healthy reef. The corals are home to a diverse array of reef residents including bannerfish, lionfish, butterflyfish, clownfish, seahorses and pufferfish. Divers commonly encounter seahorses and soft corals known as gorgonians in immense quantities. At an average depth of 11 metres and temperatures around 28 degrees, the Abana Reef is a suitable site for beginners.
Golfing is one of the nation’s favourite sports, with multiple championship-grade golf courses scattered throughout the country. Brunei Darussalam’s warm sunny weather with clear blue skies easily encourages the popularity of this outdoor sport.
Situated within this luxurious hotel’s compound is this world-class 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, a legendary American golfer. Renowned as one of Asia’s finest and ranked among Asia’s leading golf courses in the World Travel Awards, The Empire Brunei is well loved with its immaculate landscape and elaborate greens from the surrounding rainforest. The course also treats players with a gorgeous view of the South China Sea. The golf course has hosted royalty and heads of states from around the world. It also played host to prestigious golf tournaments including the Asian Tour, Aberdeen Senior Masters, Brunei Open and the Royal Trophy.
Location: The Empire Brunei, Jerudong
Tel: 241 8222
Designed by Ron Fream, a world-renowned American golf course architect, this golf course is one of the best in the world. Fream described it as the “Augusta National of Asia” due to its reputation of being one of the best manicured golf courses in Asia. Nestled within a jungle landscape, it is distinctive for its narrow, treeflanked fairways, leading to relatively small greens; this gives players’ short game skills a real challenge.
Location: Jerudong Park, Jerudong
Tel: 261 1582
With greens among the best in Southeast Asia, the Pantai Mentiri Golf Club is a 6,105-metre, par-72 course suitable for seasoned golfers and professionals. The golf course is peppered with water hazards throughout its compound, offering a challenge for golfers who wish to prove themselves to be among the best. Golfers with a handicap of 10 and above will struggle to achieve a net par score. In 1999, the golf course played host to the golf event during the 20th Southeast Asian Games, as well as a slew of other amateur and professional tournaments throughout the years.
Location: Jalan Kota Batu,
Bandar Seri Begawan
Tel: 279 1021
Brunei’s first 18-hole public golf course is located near the Brunei International Airport and designed by world-renowned golf architect Max Wexler. The golf course features a flat terrain with lakes spread throughout the course serving as irrigation. The golf course is considered challenging for golfers due to the preservation of its original vegetation as well as the addition of the lakes.
Location: Brunei International Airport, Berakas
Tel: 234 3724
Managed by the Panaga Club, this golf course is located along Jalan Utara, with Brunei Shell Petroleum’s headquarters not far off. Its close proximity to the sea in combination with its low-lying lands means the course’s ponds and ditches are susceptible to be filled with seawater when a high tide occurs. In 1978, the golf course hosted the widely successful Brunei Open. It also conducts the annual Panaga Open, a local golfing event.
Location: Panaga Club, Seria
Tel: 337 2265, 337 5754, 337 2234
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