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.
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. 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.
Rich Diversity: 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 (though rarely nowadays). Huge schools of jackfish, barracudas and bumphead parrotfish are also highlights (especially around Barracuda Point) – if you are lucky you may see a jackfish or barracuda “tornado” as they change direction. While macro life does exist here, you are mainly at Sipadan to see the larger critters – the divesites around Mabul and Kapalai are better for macro photographers. Blue skies, clear waters, convenient diving and tropical scenery, but it is below the surface where this island really excels.
It is almost impossible to list all the fish and other sea creatures that you might encounter under water when diving at Sipadan. Among the species are schools of big-eye trevallies, many turtles, tornado-like formations of barracudas, schools of humphead parrotfishes, giant mantas, eagle rays, schools of tunas, many species of sharks including schools hammerhead sharks, (sometimes even) whale sharks and thousands of other species of fish (mostly big pelagic fish as Sipadan is known for this).
Best Diving Season: All year round, best time is April-June where visibility can reach 40m
Water Temperature: 26-30°C
Marine Animal Highlights: Sea turtles and white tip reef sharks can be seen on almost every dive and hammerhead and leopard sharks, ig-eye trevallies, many turtles, tornado-like formations of barracudas, schools of humphead parrotfishes, giant mantas, eagle rays
Water Visibility: 30m