09 Jul SCUBA DIVING IN SIPADAN: THE TOP 5 DIVE SITES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS
Situated just off the eastern coast of Borneo, Malaysia in the Celebes Sea, Pulau Sipadan is world-renowned as a top diving destination. One of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet, this area has heaps of spectacular reef and coral specimens, and over 3000 fish species, it’s no wonder it made the top of the list of the CNN World’s 50 Best Dive Sites!
Visitors must acquire a permit to dive here, and as a protected marine park with over 30 dive sites including at least 12 notable sites attracting divers the world over, the Sabah Parks government agency have limited diving permits to just 120 per day. Please note that preference is given to scuba divers who plan to stay several days over snorkelers and day trippers. Also, most of the dive resorts based on Mabul island require a minimum of 4D/3N to 6D/5N stay for diving packages inclusive a guaranteed Sipadan permit.
Best Dive Sites
Barracuda Point: Probably the most popular deep wall site, divers will love the massive spinning vortex of barracudas, as well as schools of parrotfish and triggerfish amongst the corals. The strong currents here also attract big pelagics like Hammerhead or Reef Sharks, Eagle Rays and Tunas.
South Point: Best for experienced deep divers, this is a deep wall dive full of pretty corals. On a ledge 20m below, you might spot schools of Hammerhead and Thresher Sharks as well as Turtles, Manta Rays, Barracuda, and Trevallies swimming in on the strong currents.
Turtle Cavern: Excellent for experience cavern divers and tek divers, a huge underwater cave system about 65m long, it’s full of interesting rock formations and turtle skeletons. You’ll encounter swirling schools of trevally and fusilier fish as well as the countless Green Turtles, which as the spooky legend says, is where they come to die.
Hanging Gardens: A beautiful wall dive full of gorgeous corals, sponges and gorgonian sea fans. This site is home to lots of colourful Clownfish, Reef Sharks, Turtles and Damselfish to name a few.
Lobster Lair: This big wall is perfect for macro photography with its myriad of amazing reef life including Pipefish, Seahorses, and Frogfish. Lucky divers might see a Manta Ray or two gliding about, and hidden inside the many cracks along the wall, you’ll find, of course, Lobsters!
Best Time to Dive
Diving can be done all year round from 6am to 4pm daily (Night-diving is not permitted), but if you want calm waters and good visibility, it’s best to visit during the dry season between Mid-February and End of November. You’ll also get to see the huge schools of resident humphead parrotfish swimming by every morning.
Getting to Sipadan
Sipadan takes a few steps to get to, but as the saying goes, nothing worth doing should be easy! From Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu, it’s a short (2h50mins) flight to Tawau which is the nearest airport to Sipadan. Hop onto the resorts A/C minibus or a taxi heading to Semporna town, (About 90 mins’ drive), from there, your dive resort or dive centre will pick you up by boat and drop you off at your hotel on Mabul island from which the next day if you have a permit you will go dive to Pulau Sipadan.