Sipadan, SabahSipadan Island is a small island located in the Celebes Sea, south of Semporna off the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and it is currently rated as one of the best dive sites in the World! Unlike the other islands in Sabah (Mabul, Kapalai, etc), Sipadan is an oceanic island and was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano, which rises 600m from the seabed! The island itself is covered in dense tropical rainforest and rimmed with stunning white sand beaches. These beaches are out of bound due to the numerous turtle eggs buried under the sand. Visitors only have access to the jetty, eating area, toilet and a small portion of the beach for embarkation/disembarkation from your speed boat.
I booked my dive excursion with Scuba Junkie after much research online. Due to the limitation for Sipadan dive per day, their concept goes by only one Sipadan dive for every 4 days booked. However Scuba Junkie is one of the few dive centers that provide 4 dives in Sipadan, which was the main reason why I booked with them.
What you expected to see in Sipadan?As you know, alot of dive sites in the world has been damaged by irresponsible man-kind behavior, however Sipadan is one of the few dive sites that still have strict rules to protect it's beauty (the limitation of dives per day is a good practice). There are only a few places on earth (e.g. Similan islands/Richelieu Rocks) where huge swarm of barracudas and whirling shoal of jackfish that engulf you, huge bumphead parrotfish, large sea turtles of different species, lurking coral reef sharks, black and white tip sharks, all in one dive spot.
There are also possibility of meeting marines lives such as mantas or eagle rays, groups of hammer head sharks and whale shark, however these will depend on luck. If you have never dive with shark (just like me), Sipadan guaranteed sightings of black and white tip sharks throughout the dive. The dive guide actually told me before my dive that if I do not meet a shark during my dive, he will refund all my expenses for the excursion! There is no doubt why Sipadan is recognized as one of the best dive sites in the world.
There is some much to see in Sipadan, especially the neglected natural aquarium of fishes. The large marine lives, mentioned above are the main event of Sipadan and the aquarium of small fishes are also the highlights there! Not only schools of angelfish and small triggerfish roam the seabed of Sipadan, there are so many species of colorful fishes (some of which I do not know the names) that come in pack and combed around the area as well. I felt that I was like swimming in a man-made aquarium!
Other than marine lives, Sipadan is also crowded with abundance of beautiful corals that filled the whole seabed. Be sure to look out for this amazing huge Acropora coral which is about 3m+ in radius (see video here). The endless colorful wall of coral formation is covered in soft corals, enormous sea fans and large barrel sponges, which drop straight down to the unknown.
Sipadan is a "must-dive" spot for divers who are really into diving (check out our youtube video below on diving in Sipadan and feel free to leave your comments so that we can improve further). For me, it is an eye-opener to this amazing and mind-blowing dive site! It is also an astonishing sites for underwater photographers to capture amazing shots with their expensive set of camera (check out our Instagram page on photos from Sipadan and do follow us to get more updates on our travel/drone/dives photos/videos). I would love to come back again one day to dive this amazing site as 4 dives only is never enough! Currently I have covered the area of South Point, Hanging Garden, Barracuda Point (favourite dive spot) and The Drop Off and these dive sites are chosen based on the dive guides' experiences and tide condition on that day, so that you can experience the best dive in Sipadan.
Though Sipadan is superbly beautiful, do take note that if you are diving Barracuda Point, the current can get really harsh. The current here at Barracuda Point is by far the strongest I have experienced till now, the divers literally are using the pointer or finger to poke into the sand to stabilized themselves, so as to enjoy the view of the Barracuda swarm (see youtube video time 2:37s). For me, the strong current came after the shoal of jackfish site and before the Barracuda swarm, so do be careful and prepare yourself when diving there.
Do also note that flying drone is restricted in Sipadan (Mabul/Kapalai is allowed). There is also a "no drone sign" poster at the bulletin board of the registration room (in case you miss it) to notify the visitors.
Next up, we will be blogging on our diving experiences in Mabul/Kapalai islands which is a totally different experiences from Sipadan! We will also be sharing some secrets to get the best out of your dives when you come to Semporna!
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