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Also take a look at: Sipadan | Mabul | Layang Layang | Liveaboard

Sipadan Island Diving, Malaysia: An Introduction

divingThe island of Sipadan is a minute coral located off the eastern coast of Sabah. This mount is the only oceanic island in Malaysia that is not connected to the continental shelf, instead it stands alone and rises 2,000m from the sea floor to the surface where the island itself can be walked around in 30 minutes. The mount is a limestone pinnacle that 'mushrooms' out near the surface. Even though Sipadan is so small it is a perfectly formed remote island that is covered in luxuriant rainforest and is now a well known bird sanctuary with over 20 species of bird, including Sea Eagles, the rare Nicobar Pigeon and the flightless Tabon Scrubfowl. The circumference of the island is covered in beautiful sandy beaches where one can relax following dives, completely undisturbed except for the tranquil sound of the forest behind.

Aside from the staggering walls and geological structure of Sipadan the island is renowned for its vast quantity of Green and Hawksbill Turtles. Divers will encounter turtles on most dives, frolicking freely in the waters surrounding the reef. July through to September are the months for breeding and under the supervision of a naturalist visitors can watch the evening event of females coming up on the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. Soon after the fragile but perfectly formed turtles make their hazardous journey down to the waters edge and out into the open sea. Certified Cave Divers may make their way into the labyrinth of Turtle Cavern, a dark and eerie underwater cave where many turtles have made their way but never been able to return. The magnificent walls are covered in features; ledges, caverns, swim-throughs and fascinating coral structures adorn the reef wall and all are teeming with a profusion of life. Iridescent reef fish, some tiny and others over two metres in length endlessly swim around the pinnacle, schools of snapper, colourful surgeonfish, Bigeye Trevally, swarms of fusiliers and the huge Bumphead Parrotfish trawl the reef for food. There are numerous dive sites that will astound the most experienced diver with the diversity of life and coral that can be seen.

sipidanOne of the most incredible dive sites is South Point where a school of up to 1,000 Blackfin Barracuda regularly swarm in a predatory circle, if lucky a diver can enter this throng of swirling activity for an exhilarating experience. Another exquisite dive site is The Drop Off, located only a few metres from shore you can really experience the overwhelming depth of the sea in this remote location. From the pale, aquamarine water of the shallow reef the water suddenly changes as the reef plummets to 600m and the water darkens to a deeper, unknown blue. An early morning dive here is sure to provide a hive of activity as schools of jacks, barracuda, batfish and fusiliers swarm the reef. Napoleon Wrasse, turtles, Bumphead Parrotfish and White tipped Reef Sharks patrol the edge of this coral adorned wall before swimming out to deeper water.

On the shallower reefs the waves hit the coral, buttresses and gullies have been formed after thousands of years of this activity. These areas are the habitats of a wealth of macro life and smaller reef fish. Anemones adorn the coral and playful clownfish live in their throngs, crabs, lobsters and nudibranchs all search and graze the coral foraging for food and a new home. Sipadan truly is a remarkable dive location where all marine encounters can be met, the macro life is a paradise for photographers and there are numerous 'big fish' encounters to inspire the most experienced of divers.


Accommodation at Sipadan, Malaysia: Dive Resort

sipidan water village
Sipadan Water Village Resort is located on the island Mabul, neighbouring both Sipadan and Kapalai, all of which offer some of the most astounding dive sites of the world. The resort has a first class PADI and CMAS certified dive centre and qualified dive professionals offer certification courses, night dives and dive trips off Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai.

The Water Village accommodation is set on stilts above the flat coral reefs of the Celebes Sea with a backdrop of a typical oceanic fishing village. For guests there is the choice of, 2 deluxe water cottages, 27 standard water cottages and 6 semi-detached water cottages, all benefiting from private sundeck. The cottages have a luxurious feel and are styled with a Bajau influence, all have ceiling fans, private bathroom and modern conveniences.

For dining there is the resort restaurant serving daily buffets featuring a variety of Asian and Continental delicacies. There is an open-air bar that has a breathtaking sea view and evening entertainment of live music and videos for entertainment when out of the ocean.

hotels mabul


The Dive Centre is responsible for all in-water activities and scuba training and education. The centre opens from 0700hrs onwards and is equipped with lockers, showers, toilet and a common area for resting between dives with complimentary snack, hot coffee and tea. It carries 5 Bauer compressors for refilling tanks, over 300 aluminium 3000 psi / 80 cubic foot tanks with American style "K" valves, rental sets of scuba diving equipment that are mainly Scuba Pro.

The centre equipped with custom-built fibreglass dive boats that carry 12 passengers each. Each boat goes out 3 trips daily accompanied by a boatman and a Dive Master. All Dive Masters are specially trained in the marine ecology of Mabul Island and will not only show divers the attractions but also impart their knowledge of the marine life so that guests may return from their memorable holiday with a better understanding of the environment. This is what differentiated the Dive Masters at Sipadan Water Village from elsewhere: An attitude and passion for what Mabul has to offer.

Due to the fact that the marine life found around Mabul Island varies greatly from that of Sipadan Island, combination of the two islands for diving make a diver's diving holiday more complete. Mabul and Kapalai is heaven for studying the micro aspects of marine life and guarantees hours of fascinating fish watching with ample opportunities for photography. At world-renowned Sipadan Island, divers get different experience as one dive amongst the giants of sea and its only 20 minutes away from the comforts of Sipadan Water Village.


There are about 13 dive sites in Sipadan. On a good sea condition, it takes about 20 minutes from Mabul to Sipadan. Most of the diving in Sipadan is combination of wall and drift diving. The walls are covered with hard corals, soft corals, gorgonians, sponges etc. You can see more turtles on one dive here than in a lifetime of diving anywhere else. Divers may also get to see huge resident school of barracudas, which make beautiful circling patterns on top of the reef, in 10 or 15 feet of water at the South Point.

Mabul and Kapalai

There are about 17 dive sites in Mabul and about 13 dive sites in Kapalai. It takes less than 15 minutes to get from the resort to any of the Mabul dive sites by the dive boat and less than 15 minutes to Kapalai. Most of the diving in Mabul and Kapalai is very shallow with depths from 60 feet to as shallow as 10 feet. These places are "macro heaven on earth". On one given dive, divers may get to see as many as 25 or 30 remarkable photo subjects including squid, cuttlefish, anemone shrimp, gobies with blind cleaner shrimp, porcelain crabs, juvenile batfish, harlequin ghost pipefish, mushroom coral pipefish, mandarin fish, dragonets and many more.


Diver Prices 1 January to 31 December 2014

Room type

Grand Deluxe

Deluxe Cottage

Standard Cottage

Junior Cottage









































Extra night





Packages start from Tawau, inclusive of the following services: Prices above are per person in twin/double sharing accommodation and include:

         Airport Meeting Services in Tawau

         Return Land transfer from Tawau to Semporna

         Return Speedboat Transfer from Semporna to SWV Resort

         Twin share Water Cottage Accommodation with private sundeck

         Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner

Diving Package -  includes 3 boat dives daily ( except on arrival and no diving on departure days ) Covering Mabul Island, Kapalai and Sipadan Island, Unlimited Mabul House Reef shore diving open from 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM, weights, weight belt and tanks. Single supplement from 40 per person per night. Please call for more information.

Combine a stay at Sipadan Water Village with Layang Layang Dive Resort for a unique diving and wildlife experience. Please call our tailor-made itineraries specialists on 020 7407 0019 or email surf@diving-world.com


Stopover hotel en route to Sipadan and Mabul, Malaysia

Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort sits amidst 25 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens at the edge of the South China Sea in the East Malaysian State of Sabah. Its lush tropical setting is just outside Sabah's sprawling capital of Kota Kinabalu, seated in the surrounding shadow of Southeast Asia's highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu.

Tanjung Aru Resort offers beautifully appointed rooms designed to reflect the laidback and tranquil lifestyle of Sabah. All rooms have private balconies offering panoramic views of the gardens, ocean and outlying islands. The 500 appointed rooms have all been designed using natural timber, bamboo and indigenous fabrics, offering guests a feeling of natural luxury.

There are a host of amenities and recreational activities at Tanjung Aru Resort to keep guests entertained at all times. Activities include tennis, cycling, golf and most water sports imaginable from the private beach, for the more relaxing activities there is a complete health spa where aromatherapy and massage treatments can be enjoyed from professional staff.

For dining there are a multitude of restaurants and bars to choose from, Western and Asian food can be enjoyed from the Garden Terrace, Cantonese from Shang Palace, Italian from Peppino's, Sabahan and Seafood cooked to perfection at Pulau Baya or an amazing mix of snacks from the 2 bars. Tanjung Aru Resort is a paradise of luxury amidst a beautiful setting, it is the perfect stopover on route to any of Malaysia's or Indonesia's incredible dive destinations, enhancing a holiday that will truly be unforgettable.



Sipadan Water Village Resort 4*

Prices start at 365 per person (diver)including, transfers,  accommodation, full board and diving as stated. Please call our Tailor-made itineraries specialist for price with flights and combinations with other resorts.

Boat diving in the area - sites can only be accessed by boat at present.

Please contact us for more Borneo land based tours and combinations (diving and non diving).


The islands enjoy an equatorial climate, so temperature generally varies between 28 - 34°C during the day and drops to about 22°C during the nights. They are generally unaffected by the monsoon seasons which affect this part of South East Asia, although sporadic heavy rains come down around December and January.

Being islands, Sipadan and Mabul have cooling sea breezes that make even the high humidity level of 85 - 95% quite pleasant

Malaysia Airlines B747 non-stop to Kuala Lumpur
Depart Heathrow/Manchester daily AM / PM
Heathrow/Manchester daily AM / PM
Flight time to Kota Kinabalu approx 15 hours
Economy Class Seat pitch 34 inches
Domestic connections to Layang Layang & Tawau for Sipadan & Mabul after stopover night.

A passport is required for entry into Malaysia and Indonesia.  It needs to be valid for 6 months beyond your travel dates.

A visa is required for entry into Indonesia and can be acquired upon arrival in Indonesia at a fee.

How to Dive Sipadan
For environmental reasons this tiny island has now closed its resorts. This means the best way to dive here is by staying in on one of the nearby resorts at Mabul or Kapalai licensed to dive Sipadan.

The resorts also boast some excellent macro-diving which is a great complement to the breathtaking big fish action of Sipadan Island.

There are no quality liveaboards currently in operation around this area.

Diving Season
You can dive all year round. Overall, the best conditions exist from April to December, especially July and August. January to March can see some unsettled weather and a decrease in visibility but the resorts still see plenty of guests at this time as the diving in Sipadan can still be fine.

Reef Essentials

Great for: Large animals, wall diving, drift dives and advanced divers

Not so great for: Wrecks, beginner divers and non-diving activities

Depth: 5 - >40m

Visibility: 10 - 30m

Currents: Can be strong

Surface Conditions: Can be choppy

Water Temperature: 26 - 30°C

Experience Level: Intermediate - advanced

Number of dive sites: 12

Distance: 12 km (25 minutes) south from Mabul and 10 km (18 minutes) southwest from Kapalai

Access: Sipadan Island diving from Mabul and Kapalai resorts
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 14 days, including Mabul and Kapalai sites.
This section courtesy of www.dive-the-world.com

Dive sites - list

Barracuda Point
The Drop Off
Staghorn Crest
Whitetip Avenue
Coral Gardens
Hanging Gardens
South Point
Turtle Cavern

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