Sipadan is one of those dive locations where there is almost too much to see.

To get to Sipadan, we flew in to Tawau and took a one hour mini-bus drive through the Palm Oil plantations down to the little town of Semporna to catch a roughly (the sea was a bit rough too!) two hour boat ride to our dive resort.

Something to note for those with camera equipment, the jarring of the boat on the way out to the islands was a concern for the welfare of my equipment – I eventually got the boat to stop while I retrieved my bag of gear to secure it in a more ‘cushioned’ position.

Sipadan is an island which has been declared a marine conservation site by the Sabah authorities in North Borneo.

They have also limited the number of divers allowed to dive the location to 120 per day, divided amongst 12 resorts in the surrounding area.

The reasoning is to protect the location from over exposure to human activity, which is understandable given the ever increasing interest in Sipadan.

All of this means that anyone wanting to go to one of the resorts in the area, must understand that a dive at Sipadan itself is in no way guaranteed such is the demand.

We stayed at Kapalai Sipadan, a water village resort about a twenty minute boat ride from Sipadan island (on a calm day!) and I must say that every effort was made by the resort to ensure we got several dives on Sipadan. The reefs and dive sites surrounding the island more than lived up to expectation.

The seas around Sipadan have many other dive locations where the sea life is extraordinarily abundant and well worth scuba diving as well.

The huge schools of chevron barracuda, white tip sharks lying motionless on the sea floor, grey reef sharks, so many turtles you stop looking at them, bumphead parrotfish whose crunching of the reef is startling to say the least.

The dive sites are:

  • Barracuda Point
  • Coral Gardens
  • White-tip Avenue
  • Midreef
  • Turtle Patch
  • South Point
  • Staghorn Crest
  • Lobster Lair
  • Hanging Garden
  • West Ridge
  • Drop Off
  • Turtle Tomb

Some vital information:

Water Temperature:

Year round 26 - 29° Celsius


3mm is ample, some people dive in their swimming costumes, others in their ‘T-Shirt and shorts ( I had to as my wetsuit went on a permanent swim between dives, never to be seen again)


It can vary anywhere from 15m to forever…. The water is very rich in plankton at times of the year so can close down the visibility a bit. (you may be able to see in some of my pictures it has got a bit of backscatter, the water didnt get murky so much as have a lot of 'stuff' in the water

Types of Diving:

Wall dives, Reef Dives, artificial structure dives, house reef dives (also well worth the effort), small wreck diving.


All year round


Equatorial with fairly uniform temperatures year-round, ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Humidity is high (85-95%). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm and most rain can be expected between November and February.

We saw two resorts, obviously the one we stayed in Kapalai, and Mabul. Mabul seemed very active. Kapalai was more laid back but no less busy.

The resort staff could not have been more keen to make sure we had a fantastic holiday and nothing was too much trouble. We found them to be a wonderful group of people as all Malaysians seem to be.

We stayed there for ten days and were ready to move on to Lankayan after that.

I would highly recommend this scuba diving vacation to anyone, it is definitely one to cross off your list of places to dive, before you get too old to travel….. that should be when you’re about 120?

I hope so – otherwise I had better give up working and just dive, I’m going to run out of time! Anyone want to sponsor a rapidly aging scuba diver?

For additional info on Sipadan click here

Destinations page

Give us your comments, feedback or suggestions

Home page