SCUBA DIVING SIPADAN
Widely considered as one of the top diving destinations in the world, Pulau Sipadan lies at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin. This area is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world and boasts of over 3000 fish species and several hundred reef species.
Sipidan is a small island off the eastern coast of Malaysian Borneo that is known for its incredible diving. Not only is it some of the best scuba diving in Malaysia, but it is some of the best scuba diving in the world.
It’s important to note that visitors to Sipadan do need a permit. As there are only 120 permits allowed each day, these permits are more likely to be given to scuba divers over snorkelers, and scuba divers who plan to spend a few days.
Many dive centres require minimum 3 or sometimes minimum 5 day stays. Keep this in mind when planning your Malaysia diving trip.
BEST DIVE SITES
South Point: Best known for a big wall covered in healthy corals. Look for barracuda, trevally, and turtles. Keep an eye on the blue for manta rays and, if you are an experienced tech diver, consider going for an early morning deep dive. You just might see a school of hammerheads.
Turtle Cavern: A cave dive, turtle cavern is a unique dive to, essentially, a turtle graveyard.
Barracuda Point: Possibly the most popular site in Sipadan, Barracuda point is home to a massive shoal of barracuda. Keep an eye in the blue for hammerhead sharks as well.
Hanging Gardens: A large wall covered in brightly coloured corals, sponges, and sea fans. Home to plenty of turtles, reef sharks, clown fish, damselfish, and more.
Lobster Lair: A big wall with plenty of cracks hiding, you guessed it, lobster! This site is great for macro photography as it is also home to frogfish, seahorses, and pipe fish. If you are lucky, you might also get a visit from a manta.
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BEST TIME TO DIVE
The area is dive-able all round the year but the best time is between April to December. Then you will get to see the daily swim-bys of schools of big humphead parrotfish, pictured above.
HOW TO GET TO SIPADAN
Sipadan isn’t necessarily the easiest place to get to, but it is worth it. The closest airport is Tawau, which you will have to get to from Kota Kinabalu. From there, you can continue by minivan or taxi to the town of Semporna (about 1-2 hours depending).
From Semporna you take a 1 hour boat out to Sipadan island. Depending on who you are diving with, and staying with, they are probably located in either Semporna or Tawau, and they will leave from there for the dives, or to your hotel.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SIPADAN
There really isn’t anything to do in Sipadan besides diving, except maybe to have lunch on their nice white sand beach, or at the tables under the palm trees. In fact, most dive operators making the long boat trip to Sipadan do a picnic in-between dives for their guests.
Sipadan Island is highly protected marine park, and because of this it is a success story when it comes to conservation. No one is allowed to stay overnight on the island, and the only residents are the few park rangers that run it.
This means that all divers come from the Mabul or Kapalai dive resorts or centers, as they are the closest. You can also stay where we stayed, at the Seaventures dive platform, that was converted from a oil rig into a full on dive resort.
The Seaventures dive rig is stationed real near Mabul, and has its own great artificial reef and structures under the rig that has a ton of creatures. We ran into everything from barracudas, a huge Napoleon wrasse, schools or jacks, and countless nudibranchs and other macro critters.
WHERE TO STAY