Navigation


Sipadan

Introduction

Sipadan means, in the local language, the singular island. It is indeed the only continental island of Malaysia. Its underwater relief is absolutely extraordinary, since the island is surrounded by vertical walls falling at more than 600 meters! The island (600 meters long and 300 meters wide) is covered in jungle, except for the beach surrounding this island. It is not easy to access Sipadan: first, it is necessary to get to Kota Kinabalu, a city located on the west coast of Sabah (northern part of Borneo), which can be done by flying from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Tokyo, for example. An internal flight will then take you to Tawau (45 minutes), from where you can get to Semporna by bus (2 hours) and then finally Mabul by boat (45 minutes).

Indeed, since the first of January 2005, it is not allowed to overnight on the island of Sipadan, which became a natural reserve. This island is a sanctuary for turtles, and divers can spot as much as 20 of them each dive; they also lay their eggs on the beach at night. To protect this environment, all hotels and diving centers of Sipadan had to close down, and divers now come from the nearby island of Mabul for day trips.

Travel facts

Calendar

JanFebMarAprMayJuneJulyAugSepOctNovDec
322931302827252727283030
242424242626262727282827
best period
acceptable period
not recommend
air temperature
water temperature

Diving type

Destination
easily accessible
easily accessible
bargain destination
bargain destination
Diving level & type
for beginners
for beginners
for advanced divers
for advanced divers
shore diving
shore diving
liveaboard
liveaboard
Diving Characteristics
pelagics
pelagics
lots of fish
lots of fish
lots of corals
lots of corals
interesting underwater scenery
interesting underwater scenery
Other activities
attractive natural spots
attractive natural spots
gastronomy
gastronomy
night life
night life
beach
beach
snorkeling
snorkeling

Map

map

Infrastructures

Diving Sites

  • One of the best diving sites in the world - click here for a list of those sites.
    rating : 5.0
    Barracuda Point
    rating : 5.0
    level : for advanced divers
    depth : more than 40 m
    visibility : 8-15 m
    description :
    Located very close to the hotel Borneo Divers, this site proposes an absolutely extraordinary dive, beginning on a wall falling into the blue at vertiginous depths. This wall gradually changes into a slope, leading to a coral garden, where the current has the tendency to drive the divers away from the reef. Thus be careful...
    At 40 meters, an enormous grouper with a length of 1.5 meters. At 35 meters, a school of several hundreds of bigeye trevally turn around the divers, joined at 30 meters by an other school of barracudas (several hundreds, too). A gray reef shark, 4-6 white tip sharks, about ten turtles, a school of longfin spade fish, and many small reef fish, a crocodile fish, a leaf scorpion fish, a tuna fish, some starfish, some sea cucumber and nudibranchs have been seen. This site presents also the only eel garden of Sipadan, on the coral garden (hard and soft corals).
    Visibility during this drift dive can be reduced.

  • rating : 4.0
    Coral Garden
    rating : 4.0
    depth : 30 m
    visibility : 10-15 m
    description :
    A steep slope with a plateau at a depth of 5 meters above it. Along the slope, many turtles (10) and a huge school of barracudas are meeting the divers. We saw also 3 white-tips sharks and a huge lobster. The plateau itself is quite interesting: snappers, butterfly fish, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs and several anemones with clown fish.
    The current can change a lot at this site, and sometimes even inverse as function of the depth!
        
  • rating : 4.0
    Drop Off
    rating : 4.0
    depth : 20 m
    visibility : 8-10 m
    description :
    The Sipadan Drop Off is one of the most well known dive sites around the world. In front of the hotel Borneo Divers, a vertical wall falls at more than 600 meters. This wall presents a great quantity of cavities. All the fauna of the island can be found there: white tip sharks, barracudas, turtles, bumphead parrot fish, longfin spade fish and all usual reef fish. The current is seldom violent, but the visibility is often less good than on the other dive sites... Diving can be done either on the left or on the right side of the reef (both sites offer a great dive). On the right, at about 18 meters, the entrance of a cave is protected by a couple of warning panels: Cave, Danger. Do not try to enter there (see Turtle Cavern).
    However, this dive is even more impressing during the night! The famous bumphead parrot fish come to sleep close to the cave, and occupy each cavity of the wall. These fish can measure more than 1 meter long, and approach very close to the divers. On the plateau, at a depth of approximately 2 meters, one finds incredible fauna: 1 bluespotted ribbontail stingray, 1 octopus, 3 lion fish, 2 spiny devil fish, cube box fish, soldier fish, cornet fish, black blotched porcupine fish, starfish, anemones, giant clams (lots of them), nudibranchs and some small shrimps and 1 particular crab (with 4 spots on its carapace), but the absence of a plateau at more than 2 meters prevents the observation of shellfish. In front of the hotel, a huge barracuda of 1.5 meters in length watches the divers... Terrific!

  • rating : 4.0
    Turtle Cavern (Turtle Tomb)
    rating : 4.0
    type of diving : cave
    level : for advanced divers
    depth : 23 m
    visibility : (cave)
    description :
    Very close to the hotel Borneo Divers, at about 18 meters, is the entrance to a cave. Panels remind you that it is not allowed to enter there without a divemaster. You will be allowed to do this cave dive only if you are certified for cave diving, or if you have an attested experience of wreck diving, including penetration. DO NOT TRY TO ENTER THIS CAVE WITHOUT A GUIDE: 2 divers died there in 1997, the network of galleries being incredibly vast and complicated. This cave presents a particular characteristic, which is the presence of turtle' skeletons, as well as a dolphin's one. Those animals died inside because they could not find the exit. The depth inside ranges from 23 meters to 3 meters, where an air pocket was formed (do not to try to breath inside, this air is unhealthy). A particular micro fauna, such as small shrimps, is found there.
    From the inside of the cave, a blue halation can be seen around the entrance... an absolutely extraordinary vision.
            
  • rating : 4.0
    Turtle Patch
    rating : 4.0
    depth : 30 m
    visibility : 15 m
    description :
    Dive site with an unusual relief: a soft slope up to 15 meters, then steeper up to 40 meters. Lots of turtles, since one can see up to 20 of them per dive... But also white tip sharks, a swirl of barracudas and bigeye trevally, schools of cornet fish and sweetlips, and a lizard fish. Micro fauna is also interesting. Like the majority of the dives in Sipadan, this one is carried out in the current (drift dive).
              
  • rating : 3.0
    Lobster Lairs
    rating : 3.0
    depth : 30 m
    visibility : 10-15 m
    description :
    This dive proceeds along a wall with many cavities. Only 1 lobster was seen, despite the name of the site... A leopard shark was seen at 30 meters, as well as 2 white tip sharks, a dozen turtles, 1 tuna fish, bigeye trevally, 1 moray, 2 puffer fish, some parrots and trigger fishes, and a school of butterfly fish. Many corals are dead.

  • rating : 3.0
    Mid Reef
    rating : 3.0
    depth : 20 m
    visibility : 10-15 m
    description :
    Wall going down to 40 meters. However, there is not much to see below 20 meters. On the other hand, close to the surface, an incredible quantity of fish is observed: about 10 turtles, 1 white tip shark, several puffer fish, 2 leaf scorpion fish, several schools of angel fish, butterfly fish, and clown trigger fish. Several anemones with yellow anemone fish. Drift dive, in a rather significant current.

  • rating : 3.0
    White tip Avenue
    rating : 3.0
    depth : 35 m
    visibility : 10 m
    description :
    Despite its reputation, this dive site was a little disappointing... perhaps because we were not able to see the single pelagic... Only one white tip shark, but approximately 10 turtles and a school of bumphead parrot fish (a hundred!). Some of them were very impressive in size, with a length of more than 1 meter. These parrot fish turn around the island during the day and sleep on the Drop Off, close to the Turtle Cavern. The relief of this site is rather traditional, with a plateau at 5 meters followed by a vertical wall falling at more than 40 meters. The current is rather strong. The end of the dive is done on the plateau, where one can see lots of beautiful corals (soft and hard), nudibranchs, cube box fish and all the usual small reef fish.
      
  • rating : 2.0
    Hanging Garden
    rating : 2.0
    depth : 20 m
    visibility : 8-10 m
    description :
    We consider this dive to be the least interesting in Sipadan! A vertical wall falling to 40 meters, and then a slope. Visibility is limited, due to the number of suspensions. 4 turtles, 1 big puffer fish and lots of angel fish. Some interesting cavities, and a nice micro fauna.
        
  • rating : 2.0
    South Point
    rating : 2.0
    depth : 25 m
    visibility : 10-15 m
    description :
    Plateau at 3-5 meters, and then a soft slope. Unfortunately, lots of dead corals... and a current as strong as it is changing! Approx. 5 white tip sharks sleeping on the coral (including a large one: about 2 meters), a swirl of about fifty barracudas at a depth of 25 meters, 5 turtles, 2 puffer fish and 1 black blotched porcupine fish. But few fish, which makes the dive a little monotonous... Perhaps it is necessary to go a little deeper to see some large ones ...
        
  • rating : 2.0
    Staghorn Crest
    rating : 2.0
    depth : 15 m
    visibility : 10-15 m
    description :
    This dive is a little disappointing... compared to the other one in Sipadan. The plateau, at 10-15 meters, is followed by a vertical wall. Lots of the corals are dead. 2 white tip sharks, several tuna and a moray were seen. Strong and changing current.

Links

Previous destination

Next destination

Tags

Flash and javascript requiert to see tags