Diving in Sipadan

Sipadan is well-recognized as one of the world’s top dive destinations,
with its coastal waters having a wealth of superb
dive sites hidden within.

Marine Life Highlights in Sipadan

White-Tip-Reef-Shark
White Tip Reef Shark
Sipadan-JackFish|Diving in Sipadan
Jackfish
bumphead-parrotfish|Diving in Sipadan
Bumphead Parrot Fish

Dive Sites In Sipadan

barracuda-point|Diving in Sipadan

Barracuda Point

Nestled in the North East being one of the most treasured spots at Sipadan Island. It has depth of 40+ metres (131+ feet) and visibility of 30 metres (100 feet). As the name suggests, this outstanding dive site has a great barracuda shoal often seen in a tornado-like formation. Regularly ranked amongst the top five dive sites in the world. You will see dozens of turtles in one dive, schools of whitetip sharks, batfish, jacks and barracuda. Grey reef sharks are always patrolling the perimeter here and hunting for lunch, and great barracuda, dogtooth tuna. Bigeye and Giant trevally are frequent visitors to this part of the island too. Everything from nudibranchs to hammerhead sharks. This dive starts off descending deep along the sheer wall. Normally divers roll in to the top of the wall here, at a depth of about 10 metres. Eventually, you head towards the south at about 22m deep. There the current will bring you to Barracuda Point where there is a school of thousands of barracuda. You then finish the dive in the shallows of the Coral Garden. A word of caution though, don’t venture too deep to the north of this site as the currents can get very strong and sweep you downwards, out and away from the island.

Access: –
Average Depth: 20m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

coral-garden|Diving in Sipadan

Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens is great for living corals and marine life. Located at the Northeast of Sipadan reef, this site is a haven for the underwater photographer. It makes ideal for long dives devoted to both macro and wide angle compositions. The health and diversity of the coral growth in the shallows atop of the wall proven with the fact that almost every species to be seen in Pulau Sipadan’s waters is on view here. With a depth of 10-23 metres (33-75 feet) and visibility of 30 metres (100 feet), it’s possible to see Manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, etc. Coral Garden starts with a deep wall dive with a sheer wall into the depths. It continues on the shallow coral reef. You can observe dozens of green turtles feed on the edges of the wall, and encounter featherstars at every turn, an encounter with a wrasse then the humphead wrasse, plentiful Triggerfish of the clown and titan varieties as well. Butterflyfish, such as the blackspot and teardrop, and masked and regal angelish are present at every turn. Humpback unicornfish can be found in the throws of mating in pairs. The reef shallows here are so lively, colourful and in good shape that you don’t really need to venture down the ever-present bordering wall.

Access: –
Average Depth: 10m
Maximum Depth: 23m
Average Visibility: 30m

hanging-garden|Diving in Sipadan

Hanging Gardens

Hanging Gardens is one of the best dives of located in the South of Sipadan island.It’s great for snorkeling, free diving, and underwater photography. Truly an underwater garden for its very colorful reef wall covered in soft corals, seafans and large barrel sponges. The terraces, filled with a proliferation of Dendronephthya Alcyonarians in various pastel colours of lemon, lavender and antique rose overflowing down to the next level, harks back to the mythological Babylonian gardens after which it is named. It has a depth of 5-40m (16-131 feet) and visibility of 30 metres (100 feet) which gives opportunity for underwater photographers to take a close look at the alcyonarians and gorgonian fans which adorn the wall – among them you’ll find various microlife nestling in its branches and polyps. You can also find schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks, and occasionally, if you’re lucky, the extremely rare thresher shark, or fox shark. Further, the coral gives home to a great variety of smaller fish including damselfish, chromis, sweetlips on black coral, clownfish, lobsters in cracks, tiny sea slugs, etc. In one dive, you can often spot 50+ turtles along with reef sharks, whitetips and a big school of Bumphead parrotfishes.

Access: –
Average Depth: 5m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

south-point|Diving in Sipadan

South Point

South Point is a good place to get a bit deeper in the morning as long as you don’t mind a rare shark sightings for breakfast. Famous for its ornate wall of coral formations and pelagics such as manta rays. South Point is one of the more likely sites at Sipadan Island for such as hammerheads and thresher sharks, both of which tend to stay at depths here of 40+ metres. Note also that the wonder of Pulau Sipadan is that visitors get used to countless turtles, white-tips, bump-headed parrotfish and massive schools of other fish, that the crossbar is always raised, and South Point is often the site for the crowning glory. It’s a deep wall dive with the wall dropping at a vertical angle into the depths. The dive ends on the reef where you may spot the blue ringed octopus. South Point is located just Southernmost point of Sipadan with a depth 20-40 metres and visibility of 30 metres (100 feet).

Access: –
Average Depth: 20m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

whitetip-avenue|Diving in Sipadan

Whitetip Avenue

What does a name such as “Whitetip Avenue” live up to? You can look forward to numerous encounters with schools of gentle whitetip reef sharks. Whitetip is located just east side of Sipadan, south of Barracuda Point and Coral Gardens. It’s famous of its proliferation of sharks, mantas and turtles, the depth of only 17-40 metres and visibility of 30 metres (100 feet) can already make it possible for you to catch a view of stunning amazing underwater sights this dive site holds for you. A coral reef located at a shallow depth before plunging into the 600 metres vertical abyss, Whitetip Avenue is full of unexpected encounters. You’ll find yourself in the middle of a huge silver school of bigeye travellies or within a colourful palette of gigantic bumphead parrotfish.
The wall is full of terraces, crevices, ledges and vertical chimneys which are worth a look into – you’ll find sponges of all shapes and colours, black coral colonies and gorgonian fans. Among this rich coral life, you’ll find reef and den fish circulating merrily. Watch out for groupers, emperor angelfish, moorish idols, triggerfish, parrotfish, clownfish, boxfish, scorpionfish and butterflyfish.

Access: –
Average Depth: 17m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

midreef|Diving in Sipadan

Midreef

Midreef is located just south of Whitetip Avenue with a depth of 5-40 meters and a visibility of 30 metres or (100 feet). This diving site boast some of the best coral formations in Sipadan: black coral, knotted fan corals and gorgonian sea fans. As with nearly all the Sipadan dive sites, Midreef can have quite strong currents, with an added tendency to push you upwards too. However, the trade-off though is that the adverse conditions bring with them higher densities of marine life. Drifting along the wall you’ll soon take sight of dominant soft corals, navy knotted sea fans and orange gorgonian fans that hang from the ledges. Pygmy gobies and whip gobies are in abundance here. Forster’s hawkfish are often seen hanging out, resting motionless on the small sponges. 5-lined cardinalfish and harlequin sweetlips move furtively under the many ledges and overhangs. Sulu fangblennies, known only to northern Borneo and the Sulu Archipelago, form aggregations among the gorgonians. Further, once you begin your dive, it won’t belong before you come across this sites most discernable guests – dozens of large green turtles, by now very habituated to inquisitive divers.

Access: –
Average Depth: 5m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

staghorn-crest|Diving in Sipadan

Staghorn Crest

Staghorn Crest is a great coral garden in the shallows just northwest of South Point followed and a 15m deep plateau. Photographers take note – this site has brilliant light conditions during the afternoons which offers excellent illumination for superb underwater images. At this dive site, you will find yourself beginning with a gentle descent along the drop-off, followed by a gradual diagonal descent along the wall, at the shallow end of which there is a garden of staghorn corals. It’s also possible that you will come across giant manta rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks, rare fox sharks and leopard sharks. On the face of the wall, take a close look into the numerous cervices, balconies, cavities and protruding vaults where you will see a profusion of marine life which have made their home there. You will find red seawhip corals, black corals, barrel sponges and a plethora of reef fish. Specifically, watch out for groupers, nudibranchs, angelfish, gobies, grunts, shrimps and triggerfish. Due to the untouched nature of the Sipadan reefs, the coral formations have grown to huge sizes; the black corals in depths between 15 and 40 metres have bushes which have grown up to 2 metres wide.

Access: –
Average Depth: 15m
Maximum Depth: 40m
Average Visibility: 30m

Diving in Sipadan

Nestled in the Celebes Sea just off of Borneo Malaysia, Sipadan Island is constantly recognized as the best diving site in the country and amongst the best in the world. Further known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world. Truly a genuine marine paradise for its rich underwater biodiversity, pristine reef, blue skies, clear waters, convenient diving and tropical scenery.

Sipadan Island’s unique geography makes it home to a number of excellent dive sites. It is Malaysia’s only oceanic island, meaning it rises straight from the seabed rather than the continental shelf. It was formed over thousands years by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano.

Sipadan has the list of attractions that are quite staggering and all the more exceptional as it involves plenty of big fish encounters – schools of whirling barracuda, large schools of jacks, a dozen sea turtles of varying species, a handful of sharks, and a teeming reef of angelfish, triggerfish, morays and gobies all on one dive and marauding bumphead parrotfish. This is one of the big fish capitals of the world. Everywhere you turn at Sipadan, you’ll see teeming and variety of marine life. If you take the time to look closely at the walls you’ll see a wealth of macro life and fish species with over 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species calling the waters off this island home.

The wonders of Sipadan are easily accessed from the town Semporna, which is just 35 kilometers north of the island or about an hour’s boat ride away. Most visitors fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur (3 hr) or Kota Kinabalu (50 min) then continue by minivan or taxi to the port town of Semporna (1-2 hr) and from there to Sipadan itself (1 hr by fast boat). Scuba divers usually will take a boat a few minutes from the beach to their dive site. As Sipadan is now only a day trip destination from nearby islands, you will have to book your dive trip and/or stay with one of the tour operators in Mabul, Kapalai or Semporna. No divers are allowed to stay on the island after 3PM.

The Sipadan dive season is year round and most normally expressed as having the best conditions from April to December, especially July and August. The rainy season tends to be from December to March. The most likely months for unsettled weather are January and February. The busiest periods are March to August, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Its lush forests and white sand beaches which allow for a visibility of at least 20 meters year round. However, visibility can reach up to 50 meters during the dry season. Its water temperature ranges from 26 – 30°C. The currents can be strong and surface conditions can be choppy at times but mostly normally calm or glass-calm.

Best Diving Season: April to December
Weather: December to March (rainy season)
Water Temperature: 26-30°C
Marine Animal Highlights: Barracudas, Jack Swirl, White tip reef shark, Hammerheads
Recommended Thermal Protection:
Water Visibility:  -50m
Tipping:
Transportation: -About an hours boat ride, and few minivan or taxi ride.

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