Sipadan in a Nutshell
For those people lucky enough to visit Sipadan island, a plethora of amazing marine life such as turtles, baraccuda, sharks and bumphead parrotfish await you in large numbers. Nearby Mabul offers world-class critter diving.
Sipadan lies off the Southeast coast of Sabah, a province of Malaysia that is actually on the exotic sland of Borneo. It’s been fought over between Malaysia and Indonesia a few times but is officially part of Malaysia. Sipadan is one of the most richest marine habitats in the world and has over 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species classified in this ecosystem.
Sipadan Marine Life
Sipadan is a mushroom shaped island with the bottom of Drop Off wall reaching 2000ft. The other side of the island has a wider mushrooming head below the water line with 40-60 foot reefs before sloping down to the steep walls. These are great areas to find sleeping turtles, lounging white tips reef sharks, and resting crocodile fish.
The dive sites are named for the inhabitants most likely found there. You’ll see gigantic staghorn corals at Staghorn Crest, plenty of white tip sharks at White Tip Avenue, and gorgeous soft hanging corals at Hanging Gardens. You’ll see plenty of turtles at Turtle Patch as well as on every dive at Sipadan. Every dive site at Sipadan is amazing, and each one is loaded with your usual schools of anthias, jacks, trigger fish, angel fish, anemone fish, nudibranchs, lionfish, eels, octopus, and more.
Underwater Video of Marine Life at Barracuda Point
Underwater Video of Sipadan's Amazing Marine Life
Diving Barracuda Point, Sipadan
One of the most popular dive sites there would have to be Barracuda Point. Each morning you can see the chevron barracuda forming their massive spiraling schools off the reef. I’ve swam among them many times, and am always amazed at how close they let you get to them. You’ll also see schooling big-eye trevally pouring over the reef in the shallows and in the deep. The occasional tuna will swim by and you can see zebra sharks, manta rays, and even a hammerhead swim by off the walls at both Barracuda Point and South Point.
All over the island you’ll large numbers of turtles. There is a turtle ranger on the island, who gathers the turtle eggs and protects them from predators until they hatch. When they hatch, the ranger releases the turtles at the shore. Once they do this, the turtles always return to the same beach when they are ready to lay their own eggs. There is only a 10% survival rate once they hit the water, but that’s obviously been enough and the rangers protecting the eggs from lizards and other predators is a great help.
Best Time to Visit Sipadan
November to March is rainy season, and April through October are the best months to dive Sipadan.
How to get to Sipadan
Getting to Sipadan takes several flights and a couple of days. After flying into Kota Kinabaluyou need to transfer to a local flight to Tawau on the southern tip of Malasian Borneo. In Tawau, you’ll board a bus arranged by your resort, and ride 1 ½ hrs. to the port town of Semporna. This is where you’ll board a boat to your resort.