WHAT TO EXPECT ON A SIPADAN LIVEABOARD
Liveaboard diving in Sipadan will put you within reach of some of the world's most biodiverse waters. Simply the name "Sipadan" is legendary in dive circles today. Matched only by the Galapagos Islands and Truk in Micronesia, more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of species of corals have been classified in its ecosystem making Sipadan a top contender on any list of "world's best dives."
Reaching 600 meters above the Celebes Sea, Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia; meaning it rises from the deep-sea floor, unlike continental islands which are an unsubmerged part of a continental shelf. It took thousands of years of corals growing over an extinct volcanic cone to create the island in the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin now known as Sipadan. Because of this rich geographical history, scuba divers in Sipadan experience one of the richest marine habitats in the world.
Sipadan Liveaboards in Malaysia are the main dive attraction. With a 600 meter wall dive, green and hawksbill turtles coming to mate and nest, and a plethora of pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, hammerheads and whale sharks, there are few places on Earth where a diver can experience such a full oceanic scene. Schools of whirling barracuda, angelfish, triggerfish, moray eels, gobies and more are just a short liveaboard cruise away from Semporna.
A don't miss dive in the early morning is to watch the bumphead parrotfish heading off to breakfast in their 100's. A great sight as they swim past obvlivious to the amazed divers around them.
DIVE SITES OF SIPADAN
Liveaboards in Sipadan can explore 12 different dive sites with the most popular being Barracuda Point, Turtle Tomb, South Point and Hanging Gardens.
Barracuda Point Beautiful corals fill the shallow slopes of the wall all the way down to the sandy bottom. Expect huge schooling barracudas, jacks and tuna. Plenty of turtles, white tip sharks and grey reef sharks keep divers entertained. Currents can be temperamental.
Coral Gardens Take a break and enjoy the macro life with any number of nudibranchs living amongst healthy corals. Look up and seek turtles and white tip reef sharks in the neighborhood.
Hanging Garden / West Ridge The western side of the island is lush with sea fans, barrel sponges poking out from dramatic overhangs. Turtles, white tip sharks and even pygmy devil and eagle rays are frequently spotted here.
North Point A dive best appreciated in the early morning. Many overhangs and inlets covered in sea fans and sponges shelter large schools of fish. Observe schools of bumphead parrot fish and solitary giant barracuda on top of the reef. A spectacularly rich dive suitable for all ages.
South Point South Point divers descend a wall until reaching a ledge at about 20 meters that suddenly drops off. Currents can be strong, but shark sitings of various species are a diver’s reward.
Turtle Tomb Originally discovered in the 1980s by the legendary Jacques Cousteau, the entrance of this hidden gem of a dive site is just east of the jetty. This limestone cave has become the final resting place for turtles who become lost in the labyrinth of tunnels and unable to reach the surface in time for air. A liveaboard in Sipadan will ensure you have the required guide and permissions to enter this one-of-a-kind dive site.
The Wall Dive a stunning, shear 600 meter drop to the ocean floor where white tip reef sharks lay in small caverns. Watch as various species of turtles lazily pass by. Huge schools of jacks, thousands of tropical reef fish, parrot fish and occasional hammerhead sharks swim about the light current. This dream-like dive is suited to divers of all ages.
TIPS FOR DIVERS
Scuba diving in Sipadan Island is kept between the hours of 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. No night diving is permitted. In an effort to preserve the island's pristine marine state, the number of divers and dives per day has been limited, but the Celebes Explorer will take care of securing permits for Sipadan liveaboard guests. Sipadan permit fees are not included in liveaboard pricing, but help maintain the integrity of the dive site for future generations.
Sipadan is a year round liveaboard diving destination, though most operators agree the best months are April through December. Water temperatures range from a comfortable 26-34 degrees Celsius. Visitors are no longer permitted to stay overnight on the island so liveaboard diving in Sipadan is the preferred method by divers in-the-know.
GETTING TO SIPADAN
From Kuala Lumpur, take a 2.5 hour flight to Kota Kinbalu. Then take a 1 hour flight from Kota Kinbalu to Tawau airport. The Celebes Explorer liveaboard crew will arrange pick-up and drop off from Tawau & take you to Semporna where the liveaboard cruise will depart.
Sipadan Diving Reviews
Fantastic, able to see many types of marine lifeDiving Sipadan in December on the Celebes Explorer
The diving is Sipadan was good, turtle, Sharks on every dive. Barracuda point loved it schools of jacks and Barracuda. South Point was good , these places are best when the tide is running, we had reef hooks, but some in the group didn't wish to stay these for a long time. Didn't do turtle cave which was a disappointment, also was an extra cost, but was available if I asked earlier in the trip. The dive masters were good and patient. The judgement is would I go back to Sipadan?, maybe on the new Celebes ExplorerDiving Sipadan in July on the Celebes Explorer