6 Things You Should Know About the Sipadan Island Before You Book Your Diving Trip
So, you decided to go diving in Malaysia! The best place to do it is on the Sipadan Island. Here are a few things you should know about it.
(1) What makes it special. Pulau Sipadan, as the natives call it, is the only oceanic island of Malaysia in the Celebes Sea, just off the coast of Borneo. It rises 600 meters above sea level and it is home of thousands of species of fish, corals and turtles.
(2) Getting there. First you fly into Malaysia, either to the capital, Kuala Lumpur or directly into the capital of the state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo. There are several flights a day from each of these locations to the town of Tawau. There is also a bus service from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau, if you prefer the scenic route. Then you can take a taxi or a minivan to the port town Semporna. Lastly, you take a fast boat directly to the Sipadan Island.
(3) Keep in mind that you cannot stay on Sipadan Island! Since the year 2005 the Malaysian government has enforced strict regulations on the numbers of visitors and divers on the island. Because of the incredibly huge number of tourists that have flooded the island, the government turned it into a wildlife and marine life sanctuary. There are only 120 dive permits offered per day, on a first come – first served basis.
(4) What is there to see and do? You can walk around the beautiful sandy beaches, where sometimes large monitor lizards can be seen. Snorkeling and diving can be done all around the island, where amazing coral reefs and rich marine life can be spotted.
(5) Sipadan Island diving. Jacques Cousteau, the legendary French adventurer made the island famous among diving enthusiasts, through his documentary on the local marine life. The Sipadan Island offers one of the best and rarest diving experiences. The reef wall that drops 1000 to 2000 meters can be reached at just 20 meters over the reef, off the main beach. You can see schools of green and hawksbill turtles, barracudas, manta rays, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and 3000 more species of fish. There’s also an underwater limestone cave with tunnels and chambers, which hosts a turtle tomb as well. The abundance and diversity of the marine life makes Sipadan Island diving one of the top 10 diving experiences.
(6) Best time to visit. Pulau Sipadan is blessed with a unique climate, with the sun shining brightly all year long and temperatures ranging from 21C to 31C with the humidity about 90%. The rainy season is generally from November to February. Diving can be done all year round while the high-season is from July to August.
Keeping in mind that all resorts on the Sipadan Island have been closed down to preserve the amazing marine life the fact that there are only 120 dive permits offered per day, you may want to consider booking your trip well in advance.