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Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP) was established in 1974, just 3km offshore Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, east Malaysia on the island of Borneo. It is named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
It comprises of 49 square kilometers of which two-thirds are sea, and the rest is coral reefs and five islands: Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug.
The marine park is under the administration of the Sabah Parks authority which has the mandate to oversee designated protected areas and ensure their maintenance and upkeep as reserves while catering to tourists wanting to enjoy the natural beauty that Sabah has to offer.
The largest amongst the island group is Pulau Gaya on which there is a small settlement of local people mixed with southern Philippine refugees and other migrant people, who have built wooden housing over the coastal edges; the rest is pristine jungle.
Travel to the TAR Marine Park is easy as hourly speedboat rides can be caught at the Kota Kinabalu ferry terminal and is only a short 10 - 25 minute ride to the Park.
Diving is offered throughout the Park, but most dive centres operate from KK town (mainly in the Wisma Sabah building), training being offered by many of them with PADI or SSI certification. Coral beds are moderately good and marine flora is abundant in several of the dive spots, although visibility is not always more than 15 metres. TARP's big advantage is year-round diving when most of the South China Sea closes for diving between October and March.
This is a great destination for photo-macro diving; but also an occasional place to meet whale sharks from February to March. Ditch Townsend's blog at TARPWatch.blogspot.com gives loads of further details and links to a nearly comprehensive ID guide to the Park's fishes.
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|Dive sites (8)||Quality||Avg depth||Max depth||Experience||Dive type|
|Clement Reef||- / -||17 m||26 m||CMAS * / OW|
|Manukan Reef||- / -||14 m||20 m||All divers|
|Mid Reef||- / -||9 m||20 m||All divers|
|North Sulug Reef||- / -||15 m||26 m||All divers|
|Ron Reef||- / -||10 m||17 m||All divers|
|Sapi Reef||- / -||12 m||18 m||All divers|
|South Edgell Patch||- / -||15 m||20 m||CMAS * / OW|
|The Rock||- / -||10 m||15 m||All divers|
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