(#wanderlusttips #Sipadan #Malaysia) Besides lying on beautiful beaches, swimming in the clear blue ocean and enjoying fresh seafood, scuba diving has become a popular activity for people to explore the sea. There is nothing greater than seeing with your own eyes amazing coral reefs or colourful sea creatures, while experiencing the freeing sensation of being submerged in the deep blue sea. Sipadan in Malaysia is the perfect place for diving.[rpi]
Sipadan is the only volcanic island in Malaysia. It is located in the Celebes Sea just off the coast of Sabah. The island is formed by coral reefs and is home to a thousand-year-old extinct volcano. Sipadan is located in the heart of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, one of the richest marine regions in the world. The ecosystem here is made up of more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds different kinds of coral.
Sipadan is one of the world’s most beautiful diving spots. The island’s biodiversity makes it one of the most popular destinations for divers. It is on par with the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador and Chuuk State in Micronesia. It is not easy to reach Sipadan but its great beauty makes it worth the trip especially for scuba diving enthusiasts. It is difficult to name all of the sea creatures and coral reefs one can encounter while diving around Sipadan. Divers can expect to see herds of jack mackerel and whale and hammerhead sharks at one of the 40 diving spots around Sipadan.
Since 2005, Sabah National Park has been on a mission to reduce the effect of tourism in this pristine scuba diving spot to ensure future travellers for generations to come can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Many resorts on the island were closed and tourists cannot stay overnight. In addition, tourists must obtain permission before scuba diving here and the maximum number of divers per day is 120. Diving time is from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and diving is not permitted at nighttime.
To reach Sipadan tourists stay at nearby islands like Mabul or Kapalai. From there, it is a 30 minutes canoeing trip to Sipadan. Accommodation and food on Mabul and Kapalai island are not cheap. There is one other option, which is Semporna village. This fishing village is the gateway to Sipadan and other beautiful diving spots. Semporna has many delicious and affordable seafood restaurants, but this village is quite bland and doesn’t have many attractions.
If tourists wish to dive around Sipadan, they must book in advance. Diving licenses are not sold directly, but are distributed to resorts and training centres like Borneo Divers Mabul like, Kapalai (Pulau Sipadan), Sipadan Water Village, Sipadan- Mabul or travel companies like Bharman Sipadan, Borneo Jungle River Island Tours, Scuba Junkie (Dive Semporna), and North Borneo Dive. The best way to ensure a Sipadan diving license is staying at a resort on the distribution list, or register in advance with a travel company. Resort prices range from 500 USD for 4 days to 1,400 USD for 10 days, which includes diving expenses.
Visitors can fly to Tawau, the nearest airport to Mabul island, from Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Upon arrival, if you have booked a resort, you will be picked up and taken to Semporna port, where you can take a speedboat to Mabul island. If you are travelling independently you can catch a boat to the island or book a tour. The weather in Sipadan island is sunny almost all year round so there is no specific travel season.
Minh Hang | Wanderlust Tips | Cinet