Today is
Resource Centre
Diving @ Sipadan Island

The Island

Lying just off the Northeast coast of Borneo is Sipadan, Malaysia's only oceanic island. Shaped by volcanic activity aeons ago, this 35-acre island rises about 700 metres from the sea floor, attracting diverse marine life from the blackness of the open sea.

The spectacular diving, unrivalled anywhere else in the country and the world over, has made Malaysia a world class diving destination. Sipadan Island was at the top of Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List for 'The Top Dive Destination in the World', sharing the top spot with two other destinations known for the amazing diversity of their marine life - the Galapagos Islands and Truk in Micronesia.

Encounters with turtles, resident schools of jacks and barracudas are almost assured around the tiny coral island.



 Diving Sipadan

 Hawksbill Turtle

Sipadan was declared a Marine Park in 2005 and in order to protect the marine life, there is no longer accommodation available on the Island. The number of divers is also limited to only 120 persons per day. However, nearby Mabul and Kapalai Islands hosts a number of accommodation for divers, including a unique offshore converted oil platform that is used as a dive base.

Sipadan Island, also a declared bird sanctuary, is home to monitor lizards, fruit bats, the unique coconut crabs, and a luxuriant rainforest. About 47 known species of birds frolic and feed about on the natural vegetation, providing yet another attraction for the visitor.


Presently, the island is in the care of Wildlife Department, which has stationed several park rangers to oversee the state nature of the island. To protect the world unique of flora & flora on the island as well as the underwater world the Malaysian Government has decided that from 2005 no more overnight facilities shall be on Sipadan itself. This means that all dive operators on Sipadan have to move; diving Sipadan will be conducted from other destinations, such as Mabul and Kapalai. It is likely that Sipadan will be designated a marine reserve under Sabah Parks, and there are plans for a World Heritage Site listing. 

Sipadan Oceanic Island



 Diving at Sipadan

 Sipadan Corals

Sipadan Island has a number Marked Dive Sites. All dives are Wall Dives.
The following are brief descriptions of some of the sites and marine life you can expect to see:-

  • Drop Off
    Just 20 feet from the shore, the wall plunges a staggering 2,000 feet down and is rated as one of the top 5 Beach Dives in the world. The wall is encrusted with different varieties of coral, turtles abound and a multitude of lionfish & smaller reef dwelling fish live on this wall. The entrance to TURTLE CAVERN is also found about 70ft down along this wall.
  • Staghorn Crest / South Point
    There is usually a very strong current present at this site. Dives here can take you through up to three marked sites. Very large shoals of pelagic feed here (Barracuda, Jacks, Sharks and Turtles). On the upper reef, a multitude of smaller reef fish abound. Coral is bursting with color, many huge Anemone and Clown Fish at this site. 
  • Hanging Garden
    This wall is covered in a multitude of soft coral. Hawksbill & Green Turtles live on the ledges at this site and the current is usually quite calm. A great spot for photography as colorful corals hang from the interesting cracks and crevices along the wall.

 Pelagic Fauna

 Barracuda Point Sipadan

 White Tips Sipadan

  • Turtle Patch
    This site is home to a huge number of Hawksbill & Green Turtles. Many reef sharks also frequent this site. It is rather barren in comparison to some of the other sites, but triggerfish and other reef fish dwell on the upper coral reef, making it a well-rounded site.
  • Barracuda Point
    As the name suggests, Barracuda Point is where a large concentration of Pelagic's converge. Expect to see large shoals of Barracuda, Jacks, Grey and White Tip Reef Sharks. The schools number in the high hundreds. Current is strong. It is a fast moving, high voltage dive site.
  • White Tip Avenue
    As with al the sites on Sipadan Island, the name says it all. Expect to see huge Black & White Tip Reef Sharks, Grey Sharks, massive Green & Hawksbill Turtles as well as large shoals of Jack & Barracuda.

Dive Spots

Dive Fact Sheet Sipadan Island

What to expect : Many large turtles, reef sharks, soft coral, macro life, barracudas, hammerhead and jacks
Average Visibility : 10 - 30 m
Average water temperature : 26 - 30 °C
Depth : 5 - 40 m
Number of dive site :Barracuda Point, Turtle Cave, Drop Off, West Ridge, Hanging Garden, Lobster Lair, Staghorn Crest, South Point, Turtle Patch, Mid Reef, White-Tip Avenue, Coral Garden
Must dive : Drop off, Staghorn Crest / South Point, Hanging Garden, Turtle Patch, Barracuda Point and White Tip Avenue

Getting There

 Malaysia Airlines operates daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau. Airasia operates daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tawau.  From Tawau airport continue the journey by  a 1-hour drive to Semporna town. Speedboat transfer is from the Semporna jetty to Sipand Island, takes about 1 hours and 15 minutes.


Recommended Tour Packages:

For further information about Sipadan Island click here