In 2009, Sipadan Island was nominated as ‘New 7 Wonders of World Nature’ by the New7Wonders Foundation. The initiative followed an earlier New7Wonders of the World campaign, and attracted 100 million votes from around the world before the voting completed on November 11, 2011. Sipadan Island didn’t manage to make to the list but you bet that many feel that it should.
Ever since diving celebrity Jacques Cousteau raved about Pulau Sipadan’s diversity of marine life, this dive mecca has been indisputably the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia.
World Best Dive Sites
And it is famous around the globe as well! In fact, it was listed as ‘World’s 50 Best Dive Sites’ by CNN Travel in 2012. If you love scuba diving, then this is a must-visit place. If you are coming to Malaysia for ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2014’, please check out these offers: JourneyMalaysia.Com.
Travelling To Sipadan Island
Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan in ‘Malay’) lies off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo in Sabah – near the town of Tawau in Sabah. You can take a plane directly to Tawau airport or if you are visiting Sabah via Kota Kinabalu, you can catch a bus from Inanam Bus Terminal in KK. Travelling by land to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu will take about 10 hours. Not bad actually, since you can enjoy the nice view of beautiful tropical rainforest of Sabah along the way.
You might want to stop at a few places like the Sabah Parks and Poring Hot Springs on the way to Tawau. That’s if you hire a vehicle for you to drive yourself.
Before reaching the town of Tawau, you need to take a turn to Semporna at a T-Junction (Tawau-Sandakan-Semporna Junction) since you’ll need to get to Semporna first to fetch a boat to Sipadan. If you travel by commercial bus, you just need to buy a ticket directly to Semporna at Inanam Bus Terminal.
Once you reach Semporna, I suggest that you take a rest and find a nice place to stay first. Sipadan used to have resorts but to protect the environment these were closed around the year 2002. To dive in Sipadan waters you have to stay somewhere nearby, such as on Mabul, Kapalai or in Semporna, and take a boat to the island.
A boat trip to Sipadan Island from Semporna will take about an hour. So, settle down and plan for your big day carefully. You are about to begin the trip of your life.
Staying At Sipadan Island
Honestly, I don’t know how to describe Sipadan Island actually. Many people have been there and they all have run out of superlatives to describe this beautiful island. If you require further proof about the legend of Sipadan aka ‘The Dive Legend of Borneo’ than these might convince you – Sipadan Island was at the top of Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List for ‘The Top Dive Destination in the World‘. In fact it shared its top spot with 2 other destinations known for the amazing diversity of their marine life – the Galapagos Islands and Truk in Micronesia.
Such a legend that it has passed through the world’s diving community to the extent that all divers with an interest in visiting the best sites in the world, have a resort stay at this small island near the top of their wish list.
Stuff of divers’ dreams
At Sipadan Island, you will find blue skies, clear waters, convenient diving and tropical scenery, but it is below the surface where this island really excels. The waters off Sipadan Island are home to 3,000 species of fish, hundreds of species of coral, an abundance of rays and sharks and large populations of green and hawksbill turtles (Source: Tourism Malaysia). It was best described by Asia-based scuba journalist and author Chris Mitchell as:
the stuff of divers’ dreams, where you see turtles, sharks, barracuda, huge schools of jacks and many more, not just fleetingly but in your face all the time
There are a lot more that can be sad about Sipadan. But I guess it is best for you to go there and see for yourself. I put a few pictures here for you to see. The rest you can easily find on the internet. Nonetheless, looking at the picture is nothing like being at the Island itself. It truly is amazing and such a wonderful experience.
Sipadan Island Is A Protected Site
By the way, please note that because Sipadan is now a protected site, only 120 divers are allowed daily. It is only permissible to be on the island from 8:00 am to 3:00pm. As such, all dive operators will begin and end your dives around the island during this time frame. Permits are not allocated in advance so no-one, including the resorts themselves, can make guarantees about the number of days you will have to visit Sipadan Island, unless your stay is for a longer period. I believe 4 nights might be sufficient.
Then again, the longer you stay the greater your chances of getting more visits to Sipadan. Those who come specifically for diving, you may need to check on other things such as ‘best diving season’ as well. Others like me will pay attention mostly on the weather condition. 😀
Well, that’s all I can write about Sipadan Island for now. I hope I have managed to entice some of you to come visit us in Sabah this year. You may want to check our previous postings on Travel to see what other places that you should check out while in Sabah or better still, subscribe to this blog to read more postings from us on Travel to Sabah.
Thank you for visiting on this blog. Have a Happy New Year!
– Sipadan Island – The Dive Legend of Borneo