One of the best rated and top 10 dive destinations in the World is a tiny dot on the map in the South China Sea- Malaysia’s only oceanic island Sipadan on Borneo. The island of Sipadan which is a limestone pinnacle rising from 600 meters from the seabed in the Celebes Sea was described by the famous late French underwater explorer and diver Jacques-Yves Cousteau as “…an untouched piece of art.”
A legendary dive destination, Sipadan is a magnet and bio-diversity hotspot of Southeast Asia drawing in big fish like barracudas, large schools of trevally, horse-eye jacks, reef sharks and bumphead parrotfish. It’s coral reefs housed in turquoise blue waters are also home to dozens of breeding hawksbill and green turtles that have become accustomed to divers making it a great spot to get up close and person with these gentle reptiles. The most negative thing we can think of and say about diving in Sipadan is with the wealth of marine life and sheer number of things vying for your attention a lot can be missed. The walls are unparalleled and brimming with innumerable macro life and fish species that’ll rival most destinations across the globe. However, the big fish encounters here definitely take the cake.
Rated the 3rd best dive site in the world by ScubaTravel and most favored dive site in Sipadan is ‘Barracuda point’. While there are no guarantees the chances are you’ll find yourself in the center of a swirling vortex of…any guesses?…yes, Barracudas!! The current here is strong but then again that’s what brings in the food which duly brings the big fish here. Apart from barracuda species like the chevron barracuda and blacktail barracuda you see huge schools of jacks, tuna, bannerfish, redtooth triggers. plenty of turtles as usual and Grey reef sharks looking for a quick lunch. Another exciting dive site is the “Drop Off” that looks straight down into an abyss of 600 meters (close to 2000ft) or more. If your lucky you may even catch sight of a few giant manta rays playing nearby.
If you enjoy spotting sharks, at the ‘hanging gardens’ another stunning wall dive with a drop off into the deep blue you can encounter a living wall of hundreds of Hammerhead Sharks rising like ghosts from the deep and occasionally the lucky may get a chance to see the extremely rare thresher shark or fox shark.
With 10-14 top notch dive sites on offer Sipadan has truly earned it’s reputation as the best of the best. The close by reefs of Mabul and Kapalai are fantastic for spotting rare mandarin fish, sea wasps and lots of nudibranchs but Sipadan is what a diving experience should be all about…abundant and untouched marine life to be viewed and enjoyed.
Sipadan in our books is fine diving at it’s finest and a must dive destination we hope will live up to it’s name for years and years to come.