The internationally famous divers’ Mecca of Sipadan Island is rated one of the top 5 dive sites in the world. It’s no wonder; being 5 degrees north of the equator puts Sipadan in the heart of the Indo-Pacific Basin, the richest marine habitat in the world. Sipadan lies in the Celebes Sea, 35km south of Semporna, just off the east coast of the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Sipadan is Malaysia’s only oceanic island, rising 600m from the seabed, and was formed by corals growing on top of an undersea volcano.
Sipadan Island was declared a bird sanctuary in 1993, providing tourists with another attraction with its 47 different species of birds including sea eagles, kingfishers, starlings and sun birds. At low tide it is possible to walk around this tiny island paradise covered in untouched rainforest in less than half an hour. During high tide the atoll provides first-rate snorkelling and swimming.
The Government of Malaysia decided in 2004 to move all of the onsite dive resort operations out of Sipadan Island to conserve the marine and land eco-systems. Divers are still effortlessly able to enjoy the remarkable underwater Sipadan as it is minutes away from the islands Kapalai and Mabul, and an hour’s boat ride from Mataking and Pompong.
A shocking number of schooling barracuda and big-eye trevally often gather in whirlpool like formations, so large that they sometimes block the light of the sun. The pelagic species of manta rays, leopard and reef sharks, schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks are frequent visitors to Sipadan. Sipadan is known for its unusually large numbers of hawksbill and green turtles that gather here to mate and nest, it is not unusual for a diver to see more than 20 turtles on one dive. The amount of macro life on Sipadan is equally staggering, affording the diver to catch a glimpse of mantis shrimp, fields of garden eels, and various species of gobies, pipe, leaf, rock and scorpion fish.
Currents: can be strong
Experience: intermediate – advanced