Sabah has a number of excellent dive spots, with the jewel being the world-famous Sipadan. Lies 30 kilometers off Semporna on the East Coast of Sabah, it is rated as the world’s top dive sites. Malaysia’s only oceanic island, it is very small – only 12ha. in size. A 25 minute walk is enough to circle the island on foot. As an oceanic island, it rises about 700 meters from the sea floor, attracting diverse marine life from the blackness of the open sea. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, this crown jewel is a treasure trove of some of the most amazing marine animals. Praised by the internationally renowned oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau as one of the best diving spots in the world, it is only one of its kind as the only oceanic island in Malaysia. Its geographic position puts Sipadan in the centre of the richest marine habitat in the world, the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin. Lies five degrees north of the equator in the Sulawesi Sea (Celebes Sea), Sipadan, like many tropical islands it is thickly forested and surrounded by sandy beaches. Despite of that, it was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano.
In 1933, Sipadan Island has been declared as the Bird Sanctuary by the Colonial Government of North Borneo and re-gazette in 1963 by the Malaysian Government, the thick foliage on Sipadan Island supports a large variety of tropical birds such as sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. There are also exotic crustaceans for example like, the amazing coconut crab roam the beaches and scurry among the undergrowth.
For the true diving enthusiast, the island needs no introduction. Sipadan is homed for more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this richest of ecosystem. Sipadan is also renowned for its unusually large numbers of green and hawksbill turtles, which gather there to mate and nest. It is not odd to see more 20 turtles on each dive. Another unique feature to divers is the turtle tomb that contains many skeletal remains of turtles. The residential schooling barracuda and big-eye trevally are one of the highlights on every diver's Wish-list, which often gather in thousands forming spectacular tornado-like formations. Mantas, eagle-rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks may also be seen, as well as an abundance of macro life. For sustainable-conservation purpose, currently, Sipadan is open to only 80 guests at any one time and there are six resorts on Sipadan.
Most visitors fly to Tawau airport or come by bus, minivan or taxi from Sabah's northern towns of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sukau and Lahad Datu.
There are frequent flights (relatively inexpensive) from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau (2.45 hrs) and from Kota Kinabalu (50 minutes).
In order to be able to transfer on the same day to the island, please make sure your flight lands latest 14.00pm.
Once you arrive in Tawau, you will continue by land transfer to the port town of Semporna (1.30 hours).
From Semporna, you will continue on the same day by boat (check the boat schedules) to your accommodation on Mabul island (45-60 minutes).
Sipadan island is open for divers and visitors from 6am to 4pm.
Address: Sipadan Island,
GPS: 4.282527, 117.914787
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