Nature Escapes

Sipadan Island

"Dive Into An Underworld Paradise"


As Malaysia's only oceanic island, Sipadan Island sparkles with tropical flair. Among the top dive destinations in the world, a 600 meter drop-off zone plunges deep into the Celebes Sea to reveal coral-encrusted vertical walls and overhanging rock faces pocketed with abundant marine life.

A tiny and remote isle, the Sipadan Marine Park protects this natural treasure that harbors spectacular coral reefs, large open water species and flotillas of tropical fish. In 2004, the Malaysian Government removed all resort operators from the island and restricted diving to only 120 day users to preserve the fragile ecosystem from mass tourism trampling.

A dense forest surrounded by a circle of sandy beaches serves as a picturesque topside platform for diving into the underwater world of some of the richest marine habitats on the planet.

Imagine a population of over 3000 fish species interspersed among hundreds of coral varieties scattered like liquid rock gardens over the seabed. Called one of the "big fish capitals of the world", encounter schools of trevally and swirls of barracuda in between sightings of parrotfish, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, moray eels and much more.

A haven for green and hawksbill turtles, Sipadan Island teems with sea turtles at every turn, as they float over the watery landscape to feed on sponges and algae and rest on wall ledges.

Above and below the tropical horizon, Sipadan exudes an exotic adventure unmatched in its overwhelming immersion into the technicolor dreamworld of marine biodiversity.

Diving Things To Do

Sipadan Island: Nature Attractions

And with a choice of a dozen dive sites with names like Whitetip Avenue, Staghorn Crest, Lobster Lair and Coral Garden, there are plenty of places for new discoveries. Some of the more popular destinations are highlighted below.

Barracuda Point (Intermediate to Advanced)


On the north coast of the island, tornados of streamlined chevron barracuda engulf divers in a whirl of frenetic fish movement to prove the namesake of the dive site.

A favorite spot for most divers, the point also showcases schools of jacks, turtle sightings and a variety of sharks, including grey reef and white tip.

A coral wall and sloping plateau provide habitat for triggerfish, parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse.

South Point (Advanced)

Across the island and deeper down to 40 meters, hammerhead and thresher sharks are the coolest, but rarest, denizens of South Point. Sipadan

If unlucky with sharks, the dive descends to coral gardens where bumphead parrotfish grind out a meal to feed their large one-meter long frame.

Of course the ubiquitous sea turtles are always a pleasant part of the scenery, with schools of fish and white tip sharks adding to the usual suspects on site.

Choppy surface conditions and strong currents may also challenge your talents on this steep wall dive to test your luck with the shark stars.

Turtle Cavern (Advanced)

A marine turtle burial ground, skeletal remains litter the cavern to underscore the hazardous life of these ancient mariners. Sipadan

About 20 meters deep to the entrance, legend speaks of green and hawksbill turtles coming back to die here, but reality proves that getting lost inside is fatal.

For divers, the site can be complicated and local divemasters are recommended to accompany the group, especially if visibility is poor.

A unique experience that defines Sipadan Island as a special destination. The abundance of past and present sea turtles betrays the endangered status that threaten to wipe out some species in the near future.

Hanging Gardens (Beginner to Advanced)

Good for all divers, a coral wall plunges from near the surface to a terrace at 70 meters depth and into the open blue abyss. Sipadan
flickr/cloning girl

Soft corals and gorgorian fans decorate the wall in a flourish of lavender, lemon and rose colorbursts to entice underwater photographers.

Each crevice and cavity creates a niche habitat for an impressive array of hawkfish, sweetlips, groupers, moray eels, emperor angelfish and gobies, with sea turtles and stingrays present too.

Explore the diversity of interesting microfauna hidden among the colorful camouflage to really get a sense of the evolutionary wonders of the reef.

Away from the wall, search for occassional sightings of hammerhead, grey reef and thresher sharks.

Sipadan Island: Photographic Gallery

flickr/cloning girl
flickr/cloning girl
flickr/cloning girl

Sipadan Island: Getting There

Travel by flight from Kota Kinabalu for the nearly one-hour journey to Tawau, and then a one-hour drive to Semporna. From the jetty, speedboats take about 40 minutes to reach Sipadan Island.

All arrangements must be made with your tour operator prior to arrival.

To protect and preserve the marine ecosystem and terrain, the Malaysian government requested all resorts and dive operators to move off the island in 2004. As a daytime dive site, Sipadan is open to divers ferried by operators in the nearby islands or on the mainland.

There are several excellent accommodations, including those below, to choose from that are within easy access to the dive sites at Sipadan:

  • Borneo Divers & Sea Sports (Sabah) Sdn Bhd
  • Explore Asia Tours Sdn Bhd (Sipadan-Mabul Resort)
  • Seaventures Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd
  • Sipadan Water Village Resort Sdn Bhd

[NE Note: A list of reputable tour operators and dive operators is scheduled for 2010. Comments and reviews are always welcomed too (Contact)]

Sipadan Island: Map of Dive Destinations

Photo: Sabah Tourism


Return To Top

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wild Nature Series

Our new nature education ebooks kicks off with Pitcher Plants!

A great way to start your kids on a science journey and a perfect companion for homeschool studies.

Where To Go Wild!

Free advice on the best way to approach nature travel in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsula Malaysia.

Don't be disappointed with your holiday decisions, sign up for our freebie newsletter.

wild guide malaysia

Go To Download

Free Newsletter
Natural Selections

(read more)



E-mail addresses are secure.
Receive nothing else but our newsletter or notices.

Borneo Hotels

Nature Escapes

KL City Escapes  1 Hour Escapes  2 Hour Escapes  3 Hour Escapes  4 Hour Escapes
Great PM Escapes  Bukit Larut  Cameron Highlands  Frasers Hill  Kampung Kuantan  Kuala Selangor NP  Langkawi Island  Penang Island  Perhentian Island  Redang Island  Taman Negara  Tasik Bera Swamp  Tasik Chini Swamp  Temenggor Forest  Tioman Island
Borneo Escapes Sabah  Kinabalu Park  Kinabatangan WS  Maliau Basin  Pulau Tiga NP  Sipadan Island  Sepilok Orangutans   Sarawak  Bako National Park  Batang Ai NP  Mulu National Park  Niah National Park

Nature Getaways

KL Weekend Getaways

Nature Action

Mountain Biking Wildlife Watching Jungle Trekking Jungle Kids Jungle Water Jungle Safety Jungle Planning

Nature World

Rainforest Animals Rainforest Plants Rainforest Ecology Rainforest Pictures Rainforest Videos Rainforest Reptiles Rainforest Photo Art
Nature Events  Raptor Watch 2012
Natural Selections  Langkawi Wildlife
Nature Book Selections  Lizards of P. Malaysia  Enchanting Borneo

Travel Guide

Malaysia Nature Tours Malaysia Maps Malaysia Travel Malaysia Weather Kuala Lumpur Maps Kuala Lumpur Guide Kuala Lumpur Hotels

Nature Groups

Green Groups Green Issues Science For Kids

NE Business

About Nature Escapes NE Newsletter NE Wild Guide (free) NE Nature Guides NE Advertising Rates NE Sponsorships

[?] Subscribe To
This Site

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Enjoy This Site?
Use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service.

| NE Advertising Options | NE Sponsorship | NE Policies | NE Disclosure |

Copyright© 2008-2013 - Ecographica Sdn Bhd - All Rights Reserved

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape