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Malaysian Sipadan Island: A Dive Into Watery Treasure

Malaysian Sipadan Island: A Dive Into Watery Treasure


To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia.

Malaysia is on the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Most of Malaysia is covered by forest, with a mountain range running the length of the peninsula.

Multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colorful festivals.

In 1933, tiny Sipadan Island was declared a bird sanctuary. Sipadan Island is located 35km south of Semporna in the South Eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The island is a real legend, situated in the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin. It is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600m (2,000 feet) from seabed. It is also known as Pulau Sipadan.It was formed over thousands years by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano. The island is only 12 hectares (30 acres) and is covered by lush rainforest. The amazing diversity and abundance of marine life found at Sipadan makes it one of the top world’s top diving sites. Sipadan is the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia.


The late Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer, described Sipadan Island as “an untouched piece of art”.

It (‘Border Island’ in Malay) is known for its outstanding natural beauty. This tropical island off the south east coast of Sabah is also known for its stunning underwater scenery and large numbers of marine species. Scuba dive with the thousands of silver jack fishes, the giant size parrot fishes, the numerous turtles and many others such as mantas, eagle rays, tunas, scalloped hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and 3000 more species of fish. The dense vegetation on Sipadan Island supports a large variety of tropical birds that includes sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and many more…..


You can enjoy amazing diving scenes……….

  • School of barracudas in a tornado-like formation.
  • Mating hawksbill and greenback turtles.
  • Big-eye trivially in vortex-like formation.
  • Pelagic such as manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.

Scuba diving Sipadan is year round with the best time being between April and December.

Climate of Sipadan and nearby islands is hot and sunny all year round. The area is blessed with a cooling ocean breeze and rains. Average temperature: 30-32°C.
Water temperature: 27-30°C

  • South Point -

It is famous for its amazing wall of coral formations and pelagic such as manta rays and hammerhead sharks (early morning).


It is 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.

Depth: 20-40 meters

Visibility: 30 meters (100 feet)

Location: The Southernmost point of Sipadan

  • Turtle Cavern

Turtle Cavern is one of the highlights of Sipadan Island because of its incredible geological formations and turtle skeletons.


About 18m deep is the entrance to Turtle Cave. The cave first goes down in a bell shaped descent tunnel and leads to the lower chamber. Following the left side of the cavern will bring you in front of a tunnel. This tunnel is connecting Turtle Cavern with Turtle Tomb a small cave system which contains many turtle skeletons. This is due to the entry of large number of turtles into the cave and is unable to find the exit. This dive needs an experienced guide and special equipment.

Depth: 14-23 meters

Location: East of The Jetty.

  • West Ridge -

It is famous for its black corals, turtles, groupers ….

Best for marine biology, snorkeling, free diving, underwater photography, wall dives, sharks.

Depth: 18-40 meters.

Visibility: 30 meters (100 feet)

Location: West of Sipadan.

Getting there-

Tawau airport is the nearest airport to Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai. You can also 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).



  • Sipadan Water Village offers you the excitement of superb diving along with comfort and relaxation. It is the epitome of class and luxury. The village is surrounded by beautiful corals, pearl white sands and an amazing marine beauty. It is located on the island of Mabul. swvr2
  • The Sipadan-Kapalai Resort is only few minutes by boat from the island and Mabul.sipadanisland
  • Sipadan Mabul Resort is a luxury resort located on south-east side of Mabul Island and is overlooking nearby Sipadan Island. Sipadan Mabul Resort is nestled in a coconut grove and offers beautifully designed wooden chalets built next to the white sand beach. The resort has 45 chalets with 22 stand-alone chalets and 23 semi-detached. All the chalets are built with native borneo materials.SipadanKapalaiResort11_small


Don’t forget…


  • All divers need to carry a special permit to visit Sipadan
  • Permit can be purchased in any of the resorts
  • Should have a diving license, logbook and INT adaptor

Getting Here and Around

Most visitors fly to Tawau airport or come by bus, minivan or taxi from Subah’s northern towns of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sukau and Lahad Datu. There are frequent flights which are relatively inexpensive, from Kuala Lampur to Tawau (2.45 hours) and from Kota Kinabalu (50 mins). In order to be able to transfer on the same day to the island, please make sure that your flight lands latest by 1400 hours.

About Sarthak Johari

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