Difference between revisions of "Sipadan"

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Sabah : Sipadan
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The rate for three dives at Sipadan is around RM800 (April 2013). Rates vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included. Permits are limited to 120 per day and are obtained by the dive operators. It is not possible to dive Sipadan without a permit.
 
The rate for three dives at Sipadan is around RM800 (April 2013). Rates vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included. Permits are limited to 120 per day and are obtained by the dive operators. It is not possible to dive Sipadan without a permit.
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As announced by the Malaysian Government effective 10th Feb 2013 the following rules apply when diving Sipadan Island: only Advanced Open Water Divers or entry level divers with a minimum of 20 log dives are allowed to dive in Sipadan.
  
 
Check diver reviews of dive operators in the area before choosing. Many have had customer complaints regarding faulty equipment.   
 
Check diver reviews of dive operators in the area before choosing. Many have had customer complaints regarding faulty equipment.   

Revision as of 13:28, 6 October 2013

Jetty where people go ashore at Sipadan

Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan in Malay) lies off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo in Sabah. The island is known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world.

Get in

Getting in requires some effort. Most visitors fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur (3 hr) or Kota Kinabalu (50 min), continue by minivan or taxi to the port town of Semporna (1-2 hr) and from there to Sipadan itself (1 hr by fast boat).

Get around

Walking along the beautiful sandy beaches, snorkelling sites on all sides of the island can be reached. Scuba divers usually will take a boat a few minutes from the beach to their dive site.

It is no longer possible to stay on Sipadan itself

See

The beautiful sandy beaches and the coral reef with its rich marine life. On the island there are large monitor lizards (more than 1 m in length) which sometimes come out onto the beach or even into the water.

Do

Diving

One of the many sea turtles in the waters surrounding Sipadan
White tip reef sharks in the waters surrounding Sipadan

Sipadan claims to be the world's best dive site. While this is a big claim, the diving here is certainly world class. Sipadan used to have resorts but to protect the environment these were closed around the year 2002. To dive on Sipadan you have to stay somewhere nearby, such as on Mabul or in Semporna, and take a boat onto the island.

Because Sipadan is now a protected site, only 120 divers are allowed daily (April 2013). It is only permissible to be on the island 08:00-15:00. As such, all dive operators will begin and end your dives around the island during this time frame

From the main beach of the original resort it is a mere 20 m wade over the reef to reach the top of the reef wall dropping 1,000-2,000m. Sipadan is surrounded by very rich reef life consisting of both hard and soft coral as well as all manner of reef fish. Sea turtles and white tip reef sharks can be seen on almost every dive and hammerhead and leopard sharks can also be seen at times. Visibility ranges from 10 m to 30 m and more.

The rate for three dives at Sipadan is around RM800 (April 2013). Rates vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included. Permits are limited to 120 per day and are obtained by the dive operators. It is not possible to dive Sipadan without a permit.

As announced by the Malaysian Government effective 10th Feb 2013 the following rules apply when diving Sipadan Island: only Advanced Open Water Divers or entry level divers with a minimum of 20 log dives are allowed to dive in Sipadan.

Check diver reviews of dive operators in the area before choosing. Many have had customer complaints regarding faulty equipment.

Dive shops include:

  • Big John Scuba Located on Mabul Island. Nice diveshop affiliated with Lai's Homestay. bigjohnlim@hotmail.com, +60 14 2843723. Office located in Semporna near Dragon Inn
  • Diving Sipadan Malaysia, [1]. Scuba Diving Training Center in Sipadan Malaysia
  • Sipadan.com Dive Centre & Longhouse located on Mabul with office in Semporna.
  • Seaventures Rig Resort a converted dive platform, PADI 5* IDC Centre and resort located 2 min off Mabul Island.
  • Billabong Scuba Located on Mabul Island. This dive shop has a very poor reputation (see reviews elsewhere). Diving with them is generally not advised, even if they have the only Sipadan permits left.

Snorkelling

For non-divers snorkelling is an option on Sipadan. From the beach the reef is easily accessible, and parts of the reef further out can be reached by boat. A wide variety and number of reef fishes, corals, and with a bit of luck, the sharks, barracuda and turtles can be seen without leaving the surface. Note that currents and boat traffic (especially if duck diving) are the major hazards in the offshore areas, and cryptically coloured stone fish may be a hazard in the shallows.

A buoyed-off area from the 'safe' side of the jetty gives snorkellers the safest and potentially most productive snorkelling area. The phenomenal drop-off that makes this island so special, starts where the jetty ends.

Several dive tour operators bring snorkellers to the island at an all-inclusive rate of around RM490.

Liveaboard

Only Sipadan Liveaboard in Semporna is MV Celebes Explorer with 8 cabins. Guaranteed Sipadan permit

Buy

With all resorts closed down, there is nothing to buy on the island.

Eat

There are no restaurants, and dive tours bring their own lunch and snacks with them.

Drink

Dive tours bring their own water and drinks with them.

Sleep

All resorts on Sipadan have been closed in order to preserve the island in a pristine state. Diving is still permitted and possible by day-trips from the nearby town Semporna. Alternatively, there are also resorts on the nearby islands of Mabul (25 min by boat) and Kapalai (15 min by boat).

Stay safe

The islands were previously disputed between Malaysia and Indonesia, leading to instability and a highly publicized case of 20 tourists being kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels in 2000. However, an International Court of Justice decision sided with Malaysia, and the area is now regularly patrolled by the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Get out

  • Mabul Island is home to a number of high end hotels and a few hostels. The entire island is an interesting mix of local community living on fishing and supporting the tourist industry. The island is a great base for diving and there is a hotel oil rig off the island. All places to stay there require pre booking and you will be transfered. If you can stay here if you are doing a few dive days as Sempora itself is a tad nasty. You will be lucky if you turn up and find a free bed on the island.



This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!