Sipadan, one of the best dive spots in the world…

Sipadan, one of the best dive spots in the world…

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I wake up at 5 am, I can’t sleep anymore because I’m too excited for my next dive trip. What are we going to see today? Will we see some sharks? Is it really that beautiful as they say?

We have to be at 7 a.m. at the dive shop. Prepare our equipment for 3 dives and meet up with our dive master. We are with 4 divers, 2 open water divers and 2 advanced divers. Our first dive will be at 9 am and the dive site will be the Turtle patch.
On our way to Sipadan we already spot some dolphins playing around, what an amazing start of the day! After an hour we arrive at Sipadan Island. The reason that nobody is allowed to stay on the island is because of the 21 people who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf’s Filipino terrorist group in 2001. At the end of 2004, all Sipadan resorts were closed and moved to Mabul Island (see article “Mabul, a little piece of heaven on earth”).

We check our equipment, get our last briefing and then it is time to decent. My first impression is unbelievable. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600m seabed. It was formed over thousands years by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano. The wall is covered by the most beautiful coral and there are so many tropical fishes swimming around. The visibility is more than 30 meters, it is almost scary how clear the water is.

After a few minutes of enjoying all the corals and different species of fish, I see 2 White tip sharks rising up from the dark depth underneath me. Wow! This is amazing… Then I looked to the left and see 3 turtles swimming around. In total we saw 3 species of sharks (reef shark, white tip and black tip sharks) and numerous of turtles. The first Sipadan experience is already an unforgettable one!
After an hour relaxing on the beach, it is time for our second dive; Barracuda point. I understand why they call it barracuda point… I was literally the middle point of a barracuda tornado. There were thousands of barracudas circling around us in a tornado formation. A once in a life time experience!

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After the second dive, it was lunch time. The dive master prepared a local lunch and we had time to relax and ley on the stunning white sand beach on Sipadan Island. As diving can be very exhausting, we had to relax before we could go for the 3th and last dive.

Our 3th dive was at the South point where often Hammerhead sharks and manta rays are spotted. Unfortunately we didn’t see them but we saw loads of other sharks, turtles and fishes again.

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Sipadan is recognised as the best diving in the Malaysia and amongst the best in the world. I can admit that! It is definitely the best dive spot I’ve ever been in my live. If you are a diver, you should go to Sipadan one time!

What are the costs for Sipadan?
Since april 1st 2008, Sabah Parks’ permit system allows only 120 divers per day. So you have to get a permit in advanced. The price for the permit included 3 dives on Sipadan, boat ride and lunch is RM 500 (155 USD)
How to get there?
As you are not allowed to stay at Sipadan Island. You can either stay at Mabul Island or at Semporna town.
 
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). 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 to your accommodation on Mabul Island (45-60 minutes).

/// Written by Janieke Nieboer, Malaysia