Sipidan

If you ask devoted divers to list the top dives sites they wish to visit, Sipadan is frequently at the top of the list. Originally popularized by famed sea-explorer Jacques Cousteau, Sipadan is undoubtedly one of the premiere dive destinations in the world. Located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah, Sipadan was formed over thousands of years as living corals grew on top of an extinct volcano (Sipadan is the only volcanic island in Malaysia). Today, the island plunges over 2,000 meters straight down to the sea floor. Sipadan lies in the center of the Indo-Pacific basin, one of the richest marine habitats in the world. Strong currents sweep past the island, making it a converging point for the entire marine food chain. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.Sea turtle

Strong currents and steep walls are the hallmark of diving at Sipadan. When you first hit the water, you’ll be struck by the overwhelming number of green and hawksbill turtles, which gather at Sipadan to mate. It’s common to see more than twenty turtles on a single dive. Sharks are a virtual guarantee, from solo white-tip reef sharks cruising the wall to schooling grey reef sharks hunting in the deeper plateaus. For the lucky one’s, scalloped hammerheads emerge out of the deep and put on a show never to be forgotten. But sharks aren’t the only large pelagics to roam the waters of Sipadan—eagle rays are common, as are devil rays. Manta Rays make an appearance when the deep-water currents bring plankton from out of the blue, as do whale sharks. The residential schooling barracuda and big-eye trevally are a couple of the highlights on every diver’s wish-list, which often gather in the thousands forming spectacular tornado-like formations. Large herds of enormous bumphead parrotfish are often seen marching through the shallows of dive sites like Barracuda Point. If you can take your eye off the blue for a few minutes and spend some time looking at the wall you’ll find a wealth of macro-life from nudibranchs and hairy-squat lobsters to lionfish and moray eels. Octopus can often be spotted in the channel at Barracuda, as can scorpion leaf fish in the shallows of South Point. In short, Sipdan offers something for all divers, from pelagic lovers to small-critter hunters.

 

  Dive site Min depth Max depth Level Dive Type
1 Barracuda Point 5m 16ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef
2 Coral gardens 10m 33ft 23m 75ft OW Wall, Reef
3 Hanging Gardens 5m 16ft 40m 131ft OW Wall, Reef, Sharks
4 Lobster lairs 25m 82ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef, Big Fishes
5 North Point 25m 82ft 40m 131ft AOW Drift, Wall, Reef, Sharks
6 South Point 20m 65ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef
7 Staghorn Crest 20m 65ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef, Sharks
8 The Jetty 3m 10ft 40m 131ft OW Wall, Reef
9 Turtle Cavern 14m 46ft 23m 75ft AOW Cave, Reef
10 Turtle Patch 5m 16ft 12m 39ft OW Wall, Reef, Sharks
11 Turtle Tomb 17m 56ft 23m 75ft

Divemaster

Cave

12 West Ridge 18m 59ft 40m 131ft OW Wall, Reef, Sharks
13 Whitetip Avenue 17m 56ft 40m 131ft OW Wall, Reef, Sharks
14 Midreef 5m 16ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef
15 The Drop Off 5m 16ft 40m 131ft AOW Wall, Reef