Author Topic: Sipadan Island  (Read 1616 times)


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Sipadan Island
« on: 18 Sep 15, 14:25 »
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  • Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the seabed. It is located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah, East Malaysia (which is on the island of Borneo). It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.
    Sipadan Island was at the top of Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List for 'The Top Dive Destination in the World'. In fact it shared its top spot with 2 other destinations known for the diversity of their marine life — the Galápagos Islands and Truk in Micronesia.
    Frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan: green and hawksbill turtles (which mate and nest there), enormous schools of barracuda in tornado-like formations as well as large schools of big-eye trevally, and bumphead parrotfish. Pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks also visit Sipadan.


    From the main beach of the original resort it is a mere 20 m wade over the reef to reach the top of the reef wall dropping 1,000-2,000m. 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 (though rarely nowadays). Huge schools of jackfish, barracudas and bumphead parrotfish are also highlights (especially around Barracuda Point) - if you are lucky you may see a jackfish or barracuda "tornado" as they change direction. While macro life does exist here, you are mainly at Sipadan to see the larger critters - the divesites around Mabul and Kapalai are better for macro photographers.
    Visibility ranges from 10 m to 30 m and more, although this decreases on stormy rainy days. A lot of diving here consists of current or drift diving, with the currents around Barracuda Point being the strongest (at one point, you can get swept away quite quickly if you aren't careful). Divemasters will usually keep you around 20-25m for the wall dives, although deeper dives are available for technical divers (depending on the dive shop and divemasters available). Your last dive of the day will generally be at a shallower site, around 15m. One of the divesites includes a cave called the Turtle Tomb - if you are lucky and get a cave-certified divemaster and torches, you may even be able to go into the dark for a cool and hair-raising experience.


    Mabul Island is an island 15 km away from Sipadan that you can stay on. The entire island is an interesting mix of dive resorts and local Bajau "sea gypsy" communities living on fishing and supporting the tourist industry. Mabul is a great base for diving both Sipadan and other local sites, and there is a hostel oil rig just off the island that has some great sealife underneath. All places to stay there require pre-booking and you will be transferred by boat from Semporna. Try to stay here if you are doing a few dive days, as Semporna itself is a bit run-down and dirty. You will be lucky if you turn up and find a free bed on the island (although more likely during the "low" season of November to March).
    Kapalai Island is another island 15km from Sipadan, about 20 minutes by speedboat. It has the swanky Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort, with wooden chalets out over the water. Kapalai also has some good divesites itself, including its "House Reef" (artificial house structures that now have burgeoning marine life). Resorts on both Mabul and Kapalai will generally take you to divesites around both of the islands on non-Sipadan days.
    « Last Edit: 18 Sep 15, 14:26 by crafti »


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    Re: Sipadan Island
    « Reply #1 on: 20 Sep 15, 02:32 »
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  • Seaventures should be worth a mention