"Pulau Sipadan" Pulau Sipadan by kelnsha
Pulau Sipadan Travel Guide: 47 reviews and 158 photos
This is without doubt the destination that gained Malaysian diving its world-class reputation. Pulau Sipadan (the name means 'Border Island' in Malay) has one of the world's best beach diving, with a deep drop-off only a few swimming strokes away.
Situated 35km (22 miles; 45 mins by speedboat) south of Semporna, off the southeast coast of Sabah, Pulau Sipadan lies just north of the equator in the Celebes (Sulawesi) Sea. It is 10km (6 miles) south of the continental shelf and is the peak of a volcanic base that rises steeply from depths of 600m (2000ft). Only 12ha (30 acres) in area and never more than a few metres above sea-level, the island is covered in rainforest and ringed with a narrow, sandy beach.
It has just about everything the Indo-Pacific has to offer. The waters teem with fish, many inquisitive enough to approach divers: expect to be regularly buzzed by shoals of fusiliers, batfish, sweetlips, jacks, goatfish and a huge shoal of Bumphead Parrotfish. At least six species of clownfish inhabit the colourful sea anemones. Timid Whitetip Reef Sharks are common but the other sharks less so - although Hammerhead, Grey Reef Sharks and Variegated (Leopard) Sharks are seen occassionally, as are Manta Rays and Eagle Rays with Bluespotted Ribbontail Rays being common. If you dive down a shotline in open water off the reef you may encounter tuna.
However, what makes Pulau Sipadan really stand out are the turtles. Massive 140kg (300 pound) Green Turtles and smaller Hawksbill Turtles are everywhere. Often you can see about a dozen or more on a single dive; usually they ignore you entirely so that they can concentrate on the serious business of eating, sleeping and scratching parasites off their backs on the coral. The main time for nesting is in August.
Pulau Sipadan can be dived all year round but the weather is calmest and driest from May to October. August is the local holiday high season. Visibility is unpredictable - it can be murky one day and crystal clear the next but in general, you can expect it to be about 30m (100ft).
The diving on offer usually consists of two boat dives from nearby islands (eg. Mabul or Kapalai). You can request for additional dives with extra cost; if you dive to the limit, you should take a day off to de-gas after four or five days. To eliminate anchor damage, the boat dives from small fibreglass boats holding up to eight divers always acompanied with by a resort divemaster, are all drit dives, even if there is no current.
On most sites there are excellent diving. The obvious scheme is to start with the deepest point, gradually rising to shallow water beside or over reef top, where you can de-gas pleasantly. At all sites except Turtle Cavern, you can snorkel along the edge of the drop-off and see just as much reef life as the divers, although of course you would miss the gorgonian sea fans, black corals and deeper-dwelling sharks and pelagic visitors.
- Pros:Outstanding Marine Life!
- Cons:No staying overnight at Pulau Sipadan
- In a nutshell:Excellent Diving and Snorkeling!
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Latest: Dec 11, 2013