The tiny island of Sipadan, situated 36 km south of the Malaysian port named Semporna is a highly reputed diving place among the veteran divers. The underwater world around Sipadan is adorned with flourishing sea life & a unique massive submerged wall that falls up to 600 meters deep & located just few meters away from the shore. The spectacular wall & strong currents put forth some challenging drift diving opportunities, which, ardent divers accept with both the hands!
This mini-island is spread in a mere 40-acre of area in the Celebs Sea & it offers more than a dozen impressive diving spots. The sea around Sipadan is a house for more than 3000 species of fishes, including the elite residents such as white-tip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, devil & eagle rays, green turtles & sensational hammerhead sharks! The strong sea currents around the island also give invitation to huge herds of barracudas, giant Manta rays & occasionally, the ‘gentle giant’- Whale Sharks!
- South Point:
‘South Point’ is one of the most popular diving sites that host myriad marine creatures. The strong currents in this region draw many gigantic sea dwellers such as white-tip & gray sharks, eagle & devil rays, manta rays & occasionally, leopard shark also shows up in this region. The coral reef is a permanent house for many amazing reef fishes such as Moorish idols, red-tooth triggerfish etc. Experienced divers can go a step further to locate porcelain crabs, various species of shrimps & leaf scorpion fish which prefer to wade on the seabed.
- Barracuda Point:
The name itself is self explanatory! The ‘Barracuda Point’ lies on the opposite end of the island from ‘South Point’ & it is famous for the massive congregation of chevron barracuda. The wide channel located at the end of the submerged wall provides the platform for locating these amazing creatures. Reef sharks also make regular appearance in this region as they get drawn here by the strong currents along with other fishes such as moray eels, octopuses, scorpion fish & lion fish!
- Turtle Cave:
The place is famous for the sharp drop-off that falls down by 600 meters & it resides very close (5 meters) to the shore! ‘Turtle cave’ is the second most fascinating feature of this place which consists of a massive cavern opening leading to a vast cave 20 m down the seabed. The miraculous skeleton of a turtle that entered into this cave & then failed to come out of it, can be found at the bottom of the cave. This amazing place also provides shelter to the other species like ferocious barracudas & agile Jackfish.
- Hanging Garden:
This diving site is located on the western half of Sipadan where the drop-off is the deepest. The ‘Hanging garden’ features the colorful section of the vertical submerged wall which is a home to myriad mind-blowing colorful coral species that provide shelter for the variety of marine life including angelfish, groupers & Sweetlips! Sighting the ‘Hanging Garden’ in the afternoon is the otherworldly experience as the bright sunrays enlightens the spectacular coral treasury thriving on the sheer wall.
- West Ridge:
‘West Ridge’ too, is located in the western part of Sipadan. Diving at this site is done in the afternoon as the bright sunshine plays a vital role in improving the underwater visibility. On bright days, visibility can reach up to 40 m & locating the hefty scalloped hammerheads as well as gray reef sharks, becomes too easy.
- Eastern Sipadan:
The eastern part of Sipadan features the diving sites which can be best explored when diving is done in the morning sunshine. This part features many diving spots such as Mid-Reef, Coral Gardens, White-Tip Avenue & Turtle Patch. While diving in this part of Sipadan, swimming with the strong current is the way to go as you can locate some of the most amazing marine residents such as gigantic Manta rays, pickhandle Barracudas & large Tunas while moving along with the current! White-Tip Avenue is a hotspot to locate the nimble white-tip sharks, whereas, the Mid-Reef is the abode for green turtles & numerous reef fishes. Coral Garden is a shallow part of the wall that boasts every species of reef fishes found around in the Sipadan waters!
- Few Words of Wisdom:
Sipadan being the part of a protected marine area, only 120 people are allowed to visit on any given day. The permit to explore the diving sites are allocated by mere 12 operators, so planning your tour well in advance is advisable as during the peak season (July-August), the advance booking can begin six months prior to the start of the season! The services provided by the tour operators are ‘best-in-class’ & they strive to make your every moment you spend here a memorable one!