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Diving Under Barracuda Point, Sipadan  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Malaysia > Sabah > Sights & Attractions

Sipadan

  
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Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan in Malay) lies off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo. The island is known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world.

Sipadan is the tip of a pinnacle rising 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the seabed. The island has a beautiful sandy beach and the under-water coral reef is teeming with rich marine life. On the island there are large monitor lizards (more than 1m in length) which sometimes come out onto the beach or even into the water.

All resorts on Sipadan have been closed in order to preserve the island in a pristine state. Diving is still permitted and possible by day-trips from the nearby town Semporna. 

Sipadan is known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>
Alternatively, there are also resorts on the nearby islands of Mabul (25 minutes by boat) and Kapalai (15 minutes by boat).

Getting in to Sipadan requires some effort. Most visitors fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur (3 hours) or Kota Kinabalu (50 minutes), continue by minivan or taxi to the port town of Semporna (1-2 hours) and from there to Sipadan itself (1 hour by fast boat).

Diver's Paradise

Sipadan claims to be the world's best dive site. While this is a big claim, the diving here is certainly world class. Sipadan used to have resorts but to protect the environment these were closed around the year 2002. To dive on Sipadan you have to stay somewhere nearby, such as on Mabul or in Semporna, and take a boat onto the island.

Rich marine life of Sipadan  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Because Sipadan is now a protected site, only 120 dives are allowed daily (as of 8/26/08). It's best to try to dive as early as possible to beat the crowds and increase your chances of getting on the roster to dive.

From the main beach of the original resort it is a mere 20m wade over the reef to reach the top of the reef wall dropping 1000-2000m. Sipadan is surrounded by very rich reef life consisting of both hard and soft coral as well as all manner of reef fish. Sea turtles and white tip reef sharks can be seen on almost every dive and hammerhead and leopard sharks can also be seen at times. Visibility ranges from 10m to 30m and above.

Monitor lizards are frequently spotted on Sipadan  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Note that a barge accident on 15 May 2006 did some damage to the reefs at Sipadan, crushing a portion of reef on the old pier and Barracuda Point and dumping its cargo of gravel in the area. This was not one of the best dive areas, but cleanup operations and other repercussions did restrict diving in the months since.

The rate for three dives at Sipadan is around RM560. Rates vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included. Permits are limited to 120 per day and are typically obtained by the dive operators. You should verify that the diver operator you choose is diving at Sipadan with permits, as some companies have been caught diving the island recently without permits.

Check diver reviews of dive operators in the area before choosing. Many have had customer complaints regarding faulty equipment.

Type of place: Island
Location: Sabah, Malaysia








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