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Barracuda ring

Diving Sipadan Island, Borneo | Malaysia

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Sipadan is regarded as one of 'those' diving destinations, a must-see place on any divers hit-list. It become a diving legend after it was discovered by Jacques Costeau. In the past there were several dive resorts on Sipadan, all clustered together on an arc of pure white sand. However, in late 2005 all accommodation was closed in the hope that the island would achieve World Heritage status. Diving on the surrounding reefs is allowed but is restricted.

When you see the way the turquoise water changes sharply to deep blue, you understand why Sipadan became so famous. The house wall slips away to incredible depths and the currents that sweep across it support some impressive pelagic life. Turtles are so prolific you see them on every dive and, if such a thing is possible, they almost get to be annoying as there are so many. Considering how endangered they are, that may sound churlish – and it is a pleasure to see so them – but they do like to get in the way!

Equally impressive are the schools of pelagic fish. Huge numbers of barracuda, jacks and tuna are always hangiing over the reef wall. Reef sharks are common and hammerheads are spotted at certain times of year.

Sipadan island dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life turtles
reef sharks
schooling barracuda hawkfish
Top dive site Barracuda Point
Seasons All year
Visibility 5 – 40 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Labuan, Singapore
Flights to Kota Kinabalu then Tawau, followed by 1.5 hours by road and speed boat

Sipadan-Kapalai Resort


Although you can no longer stay on Sipadan, you can dive there from either Kapalai or Mabul providing, that is, the operators have organised permits correctly. There are some horror stories of divers never seeing Sipadan as the permits weren't done and as many other stories of people who got to go every day as there were too many. Meanwhile, new programmes are being enforced to encourage rehabilitation of the land and marine environments.


The sheer underwater topography can bring in some spectacular sights, large pelagic species are always in residence and the visibility is amazing but currents can be strong.


Not being able to stay on Sipadan doesn't really matter as there are only a handful of sites around the island. Speedboat transfers from other islands only take about 20 minutes so combining it with one of the macro destinations nearby is ideal.
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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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