Fighting my fears: Discover Scuba in Kota Kinabalu

/////Fighting my fears: Discover Scuba in Kota Kinabalu

My fears all too often set up road blocks for me. While I may not leap across those road blocks like a pro athlete, I do my best to keep going. It’s been years since my two ‘I almost drowned’ incidents and it has taken Shawn all his charm and patience to get me into the water. It has taken far too long for me to feel comfortable in the sea but I like to think that it was a combination of love and trust that has brought me this far.

When Shawn said that he was finally going to do his PADI certification I felt a mixture of happiness and disappointment. Happiness because he was finally going to achieve his dream and sadness because I would not be able to join him. The PADI certification requires that an individual should be able to swim. That however is something that I have still not managed to master. So I guess that my dreams of becoming a certified diver will have to wait for a while. In the mean time, I allowed myself to indulge in the Discover scuba dives.


Discover scuba and friends

Georgia! The girl who helped calm my nerves! Can’t thank you enough girl!

I decided to do my Discover Scuba dives with Diverse Borneo. It was the same company that Shawn was doing his PADI certification from. My main motive was to spend more time with him. It was the last day of Shawn’s PADI course and I was pretty happy to be diving with him. That is till he told me that I would have to jump off the boat backwards. All my pseudo-confidence was gone with the wind.

It takes me 5 minutes to jump off any boat… I usually have Shawn in the water and a helpful neighbor who will count down 1… 2… 3… It still takes all of my courage to jump! Once I’m in the water I’m fine but the jump takes it out of me.

Things just got worse when we were informed that we would be on separate boats for the entire day. I was not pleased at all. In fact I was so petrified that I had tears in my eyes as Shawn packed up his gear and headed off to his boat. What was I going to do? How could I do it alone? I know I was not totally alone but to put my fears aside and trust someone I did not know for more than 10 seconds was almost not possible.

I felt so trapped. It was the first time I was going to be on a boat without Shawn and the hydrophobic part of me started clawing its way to the surface. Luckily for me Georgia saved the day. She was going to be diving with her friend along with my instructor Misol and me. She started talking to me and before I knew it she had stopped my fears from becoming a full blown panic attack.


Discover Scuba instructor

Misol was definitely a very patient instructor!

The first part of the Discover Scuba dive is learning skills that you may and will need when you dive. Since I had dived before (luckily!) I wasn’t panicking too much. In fact, Misol allowed me to climb out of the boat so I did not have to jump! It went a long way to calming down my fears. We headed out to the shallow end of Sapi island where we practiced our skills. These included how to clear the regulator, how to remove water from your mask and what to do when you lose your regulator. The quick recap was great for all of us.


The actual scuba dive was really amazing. We descended slowly as we swam off the reef. I’ve been snorkeling in a lot of different places and all too often the damage of global warming is very evident. The first part of the dive showed us coral broken and bleached. It was heart breaking. I later learned that the destruction of the coral closer to the shore is caused due a combination of bomb fishing and storms. That is what someone who was part of our Discover Scuba team said.

As you went deeper more coral seemed alive. The waters were full of fish. Misol told me that it was one of those days where the divers get lucky and the conditions to dive are extremely good. We caught sight of a sting ray. Something that is really popular in the Sapi region. To be truthful, I wouldn’t have seen it if it wasn’t for Misol. I spotted a huge eel. I never realized that they had such big teeth!

Puffer fish were definitely around and so were a lot of clams. These weren’t just any clams. They were giant clams. We later learned that there are seven species of giant clams and all of them can be found in the islands near Kota Kinabalu. What do they look like? Much to everyone’s horror I said that they looked like a vagina when they are open. I still stand my description graphic though it may be. J

As we went deeper the size of the fish definitely increased. The colors were amazing. It made me feel guilty for eating fish. They are so colorful and full of magic under the water. I kind off felt like I was taking away their magic.


Discover scuba on Sapi island

A place to ponder, a spot to think!

With our first dive done we were hungry. Diving seems to take up a lot energy. The Discover Scuba package includes lunch. We were taken to a part of Sapi island that housed a restaurant. Misol proudly told us that only the divers get to eat here. We were presented a menu and asked to order. The food was decent but a bit too oily for me. Thankfully I had brought my parcel of fruits along. IBS and oil don’t go together so I always tend to look out for myself.

This is where we finally got to meet Shawn again. He on the other hand was busy struggling to finish his exams and eat at the same time. We both still had one dive left. The diving instructors offered to swap us around so that I could be on the same boat as Shawn but I declined. I had gained a great deal of confidence with my instructor Misol and I had made a friend Georgia who was absolutely amazing!

We had enough time on the island to explore the beach and take a few photographs. The water was really very beautiful. It was clear and free of debris. While I didn’t jump in, I did walk around listening to the water lap up on the shore. Peace… The peace that I was craving for.

It was soon tie to head back for our second dive. Misol told me that if I was still too scared to jump of the boat backwards then I could walk off. It was all up to me. Georgia and the rest of the gang however were extremely supportive. I can’t thank them enough for just being there because I did jump and I didn’t break anything (thankfully!).

Discover Scuba

The best part was that I finished my Discover Scuba course feeling happy!

The second dive was somehow more beautiful than the previous one. I think it had a lot to do with how comfortable I had got with my company. For me going out there without Shawn was challenging myself. It was pushing myself beyond my known limits. I could have broken down and cried but I chose to survive. That is what made the Discover Scuba in Kota Kinabalu so special. That and the new friend I made along the way.

*This post contains affiliate links.

2018-06-13T14:25:58+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Asia, Destinations, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia|21 Comments


  1. Lien July 20, 2017 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Diving is on my wish list too! As I am claustrofic, I think I would need a patient friend too to calm down the nerves 😉

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 2:34 am - Reply

      A patient friend always helps. In my case it is usually my husband. Unfortunately this time they separated us. If it was my choice in the beginning I would have just decided not to go but we had paid our money and everything so it wasn’t really an option.

  2. Ana July 20, 2017 at 2:31 am - Reply

    I need to get going on those swimming classes I’ve been putting off :)) This is like the 3rd post about diving I have read in the last week. It’s one of the things on my bucket list that I keep postponing. I think it’s a sign. I mean your smile at the end says it all. And I’m sure the underwater world that you experienced was amazing!

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 2:33 am - Reply

      To be truthful Ana, this was my second diving experience. The difference was that the previous one was way simpler. I just walked off the shore. For me jumping in was the biggest fear. I don’t know what comes over me. I know that I will be fine when I am in the water. I know that I will enjoy it but yet there is always something holding me back. The underwater world however is really spellbinding!

  3. Nuraini July 20, 2017 at 3:02 am - Reply

    I actually prefer boat dives than shore, because I wouldn’t have to walk all across with gear on and possibly against surf.

    When I learned to dive, I had trouble with the mask clearing and retrieval part because I feared the salt water would dislodge my contact lenses or something, if I need to open my eyes to find the mask. That made me panic and I couldn’t do it. So my instructor didn’t press me. I practiced on my own in the shallows with just the mark to prove to myself that it’s fine if I open my eyes in the sea. And only then could I complete that skill.

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      I usually don’t panic when Shawn is around. Or rather shall I say that I don’t panic as much. The biggest irony is that once I’m underwater I’m very calm. I love it. I couldn’t do the PADI course. Need to learn to swim. Thanks Nuraini. It is reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who has these episodes where fear clouds my judgement.

  4. gingeybites July 20, 2017 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Well done for overcoming your fears to do this. I’m often the same about things and panic until it’s done and then realise I actually enjoyed myself!

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Ooooo! You voiced that so well. All too often I’m so busy worrying that I will be afraid that I worry myself sick. Once the whole adventure is over I’m excited and happy. Drives Shawn crazy!

  5. Flo July 20, 2017 at 3:38 am - Reply

    It’s too bad you guys were separated for the day but it sounds like you had an amazing time nonetheless! Good on you for stepping outside of your comfort zone – it looks like it paid off!

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Thank you! Yes. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone or rather was forced out of it. I wish Shawn could have been a part of it but it taught me that I can do stuff on my own when it comes to the water. It just takes a leap of faith or maybe fate…! Lol!

  6. Ricarda Christina Hollweg July 20, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Congrats you’ve ocercome your fears. I love snorkelling but being claustrophobic and having some problems with pressure equalization in the ear, I think I will never dive. For sure this world down below is fascinating and I enjoyed participating in your adventure while reading. Fish are really fantastic creatures…

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 11:21 am - Reply

      This was my second dive. The first one went a bit smoother because I walked out from shore. I found equalization a bit difficult when you descend rapidly. When you walk off from the shore it is much easier. I hope that helps. I’m sure someday the conditions will be just right and you will take the plunge. Even if you don’t its okay. We all have our limitations.

  7. Ashley July 20, 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

    I definitely prefer just plain snorkelling to scuba diving, but maybe someday! It does sound scary but I’m glad you made it through and had a great time in the end!

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ashley. The experience could have gone either way but I’m so glad that I persisted. I think it is all because of my husband Shawn. He loves the water. Anything that involves water fascinates him. Seeing him enjoy water sports tempts me too. 🙂

  8. yasmin July 20, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Lovely post girl! I think it’s great you conquered your fears and just did it anyway and even jumped off that boat, wuhuu! So do you really like scuba diving now? Are you planning on doing it more often? Or are you just happy you experienced it once? It also seems a bit scary to me, altough I love snorkeling! I would like to try diving once aswell 🙂

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      I love scuba.I guess my fear is always at the beginning. Oddly enough I don’t panic once I’m underwater. Doing my PADI certification is something that I dream off but no matter what I do I can’t seem to swim. Believe me I try real hard. Sometimes I think that it is my fears that act as a blockade. That being said I’m not going to stop trying. Someday… Someday I will. I don’t care if that someday comes when I am 60 but I will!

  9. Kate July 20, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    It looks like an amazing experience! it’s sad that they separeted you with your husband but I’m sure you felt so good in the end 🙂 I’d like to try to dive in this wonderful place!

    • Penny July 20, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      I guess traveling involves putting yourself out of your comfort zone. It means being able to trust yourself too. Being pushed out of my comfort zone meant that I learned to trust my own instincts. Yes! I am extremely comfortable that Shawn won’t let anything happen to me but I learned that I can survive on my own too!

  10. Hannah Lake July 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    I love this post! So useful, thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Lydia Smith August 1, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Good you had a lot of fun and overcame your phobia. Friends that save are those you had around, lucky you

    • Penny August 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      I was really lucky that day! 🙂

Leave A Comment

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.