Best Diving sites in Sipadan

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If you have dived in Sipadan before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip ;)

Scuba Diving in Sipadan is just outstanding. The fish life is teeming and you have the possibility to encounter everything you’ve ever dreamed of under the sea. Turtles and Reef Sharks are very common around the island. It is also possible to spot Leopard sharks, Grey sharks and even Hammerhead sharks if you are lucky! Manta rays are also flying around, however they are not as common. The waters around Sipadan reach as far down as 600 meters deeps and attract all the pelagic species. Check out this video to see how it looks like underwater!

For macro fans, there is also great varieties of nudibranchs, frog fishes, leaf fishes, pygmy seahorses, just name it!

The coral is pristine. The coral gardens are shallow and very colourful and will make your safety stop a special moment to enjoy. Deeper, you will find great sea gorgonians fans and barrel sponges along the steep walls. Sipadan is also a world major destination for underwater photography with great shot opportunities on every dive sites.

The island was first explored by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who described it: “I have seen other places like Sipadan… 45 years ago. Now we have found again an untouched piece of art.” You can watch its film! Crazy!

In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Sipadan.

Photos Sipadan

Best Dive Review

All dive sites are excellent so it is hard to choose! Let’s say the best spots are:

How to dive Sipadan?

Diving rules are strict:

  • Only 120 divers per day
  • Obligatory diving permit
  • No gloves policy
  • No diving below 40 meters

On a typical diving week on Mabul or Kapalai, you will dive not more than four times in Sipadan. The rest of the dives will be on other dive sites.

They are many dive operators and the competition among them is strong. However prices are still high. Many diving resorts propose all inclusive packages that can be interesting.

When not diving around Sipadan you will still found excellent dive sites such as around the Island of Mabul and Kapalai especially for muck and wreck diving.

You can also explore this underwater world on a Liveaboard trip that generally combines Kapalai Island, Mabul Island and Sipadan. I usually use this website to book in advance my Liveaboards in Malaysia as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because they have an easy booking system.

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Sipadan as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

Best time to dive in Sipadan

The Diving is excellent all year round.

  • The best time runs from April to December with excellent sea conditions. April until early of June being the perfect time but this is also the High season and you should book your permit and your resort well in advance!
  • From January to March, there can be heavy rainfall and therefore, the visibility can be reduced.

However the weather nowadays keep changing every year and it is really hard to predict the seasons in advance!

Top liveaboards in Sipadan according to divers reviews

Scuba Diving conditions

The visibility ranges from 15 meters to 40 meters depending on the season and where you dive. Diving around Sipadan is mostly easy and current is not really an issue. However, on certain dives sites like the very popular Barracuda Point the current can be very strong. On this dive site you can spot the famous huge tornado of thousands of barracudas!

Scuba diving there is suitable for all divers but many sites are reserved to advanced divers. There are even dive sites reserved specifically to divemasters such as as the turtle cavern and turtle tomb dive sites. The caverns are located below the Island where you can see skeletons of turtles that couldn’t find their way out and drowned. Cave diving should be undertaken only by very experimented divers with special material.

Snorkelling in Sipadan

The snorkelling is excellent around the Island. The coral gardens are magnificent and very colourful. You can join a dive boat that will take you to the island for snorkelling. However as the number of seat is limited it is not always possible.

Diving Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Sipadan, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Travel Guide

Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Sipadan Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.

Diving Reviews for this region

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Dive spots reviews in Sipadan

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Hanging Gardens located in the South of the Island, is one of the best dive sites of Sipadan. It is a beautiful wall wit...
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The Drop Off dive site is a 600 m deep wall! This spot is one of the most popular of Sipadan. It is an excellent spot to...
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Lobster Lair is a famous dive site in Sipadan Island, named because of the numerous lobsters living in the small cracks....
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South Point is a very special diving site in Sipadan! It is famous for its magnificent wall going deep down into the blu...
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Staghorn Crest dive site is located in Sipadan just North of South Point. It is a great coral garden in the shallows fol...
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Turtle Cave is a very special dive site! It is one of the highlights of diving Sipadan island and is something unique. T...
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Turtle Patch is a great dive site in Sipadan for turtles, whitetip sharks, parrotfish shoals and large table corals. Tur...
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Turtle Tomb is a very special dive site! It is one of the must dives in Sipadan for any cave divers! Turtle Tomb is part...
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West Ridge dive site is located on the west side of Sipadan Island. It is a famous spot for turtles and the groupers liv...
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Whitetip Avenue is a famous dive site in Sipadan for its proliferation of sharks, manta rays and turtles. The wall is ni...

Liveaboard Reviews in Sipadan

Diving centers in Sipadan

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29 dive logs in “Sipadan

  1. OVERATED!TOTALLY OVERATED!That’s how I find about this island.There’s only one dive site and you’ll be surprise to find no sharks,maybe turtles and I’ve not seen one humphead in most of my diving there.I’ve dive there in 1996 and it was ok and dove there in 2005 till 2008 and honestly I prefer to go to the surrounding islands.I really do not understand how they could make it such a fuss with permits and limitations to divers and finding it a really waste of my efforts.Be ready to be dissapointed guys.I dove there and finding more resorts to be built and not making more efforts to generate marine life is not helping it at all.

    • Thank you very much for your interesting feedback. Which center did you dive with? What island would recommend instead of Sipadan? Lankayan? Pom Pom? Mabul? Mataking?

    • I have always been diving with Scubajunkie located in Semporna town itself.It’s more economical and you can really walk about the town looking for fresh seafood in the fish markets when you come back each day from the diving.Scubajunkie can provide several choices of accomodations.The better half of the the diving which I personally prefer is Mataking,Sibuan mabul and Kapalai. In 1995 I was diving and staying with SMART resort and it was really something else.Cocodile Avenue,Lobster Wall(hundreds of lobster) and Sipadan was something else.The deteriotation of the reefs couple with the human impact has changed all that.Kapalai was a sunken island and they have a dive site called Mandarin Valley and at least 10 Mandarin fishes per dive and now they built a resort on top of it.Sad,sad sad!

    • I have been diving for about 25 years and i think this place is up there as one of the best places in the world to dive. I can’t understand these comments as I have seen sharks turtles and bumpheads everyday I have dived the island. I have made about 30 dives there in total.

    • Be ready to be disappointed?! You deluded freak. I had four dives here a few days ago and it was by far the best diving I had ever done, seeing the schools of barracudas (not at barracuda point) meaning this place has more than one site to dive at, unlike what you said. South point was teeming with white tips and grey reefs. The bump head parrotfish were in there numbers and the jacks were in there thousands. Each dive site I did here was an absolute privelage, and it sounds like to me you are wasting someone’s permit diving with your eyes closed. Sipidan is a MUST. Do not let this review put you off, I also dove in the pouring rain and visibility still 25 meters.

  2. Did my open cert at Borneo Divers, fantastic team, great instructors and fast boats. As a new diver I wasn’t prepared for the utterly unforgettable experience, my 1st open water dive was Barracuda Point ! simply a life changing experience, shoals of barra’s, hump-head’s, turtles everywhere, the coral gardens…simply a must of any diver with vis out to 15m min, over the next four days we started the days diving at Barra point (best time to see the shoals and hump-heads.5/5

  3. Where is a great place to dive in October? My choices are between Thailand liveaboards going then? Or what about Sipadan or Indonesia or Raja Ampat? Mostly looking for Liveaboard then a few days n land. Looking to travel Oct 1 to Oct 15

    Thanks for your help
    Todd

  4. I have been diving Sipadan and the surrounding area since 1996. I have been fortunate enough to have been there more than a dozen times and have been there at all times of the year. I LOVE it! I have ALWAYS seen an abundance of turtles and white tips. I have nearly always seen the Bumphead Parrotfish schooling in the shallows. Those are staples of Sipadan! But, my true love is the sites around Mabul and Kapalai because I am actually a macro junkie. I was there in October 2011 and it was my BEST visit yet. We had everything … in great abundance. It is the only place I know of where you get such variety and abundance in such a small area. From Mabul, your longest boat ride is only 15-20 minutes! My favorite resort is Sipadan Water Village and I have always been delighted with their service and quality. If you haven’t been – go … go now!

    • Dear Vickie & others. How are the conditions in late December to Early January? I want to do a dive course & my husband will do a refresher and also a December getaway but I’ve been reading it’s the height of the rainy season yet average rainfall reports seems similar to other months. Then again this year the weather everywhere I’ve been Europe, SA, USA has been off season. But I’m still hoping to make a trip out there. Thanks!

      • Hi. There may be a little more rain at that time of year – but not much. I’ve been to the resort at that time of year and loved it. Like you said – they get rain year ’round. But, you won’t ever get monsoon or typhoon conditions. Go for it.

  5. I have been dive Master at Sipadan from febuary to June 2012. Barracuda point is really one of the best dive site in the world. Drop off and South point are very very good too. If you dive one day at Sipadan be prepared to see many white tip sharks, hips of turtles and school of jackfish. You have also very good chance to see the school of bumphead parrotfish, the school of barracudas, Big grey sharks and napoleons. But do not expect to see any hammerhead, you have got less than 1% chance to spot one. If you dive there for one year you might see them once or twice.

  6. a wonderful place to see verty close to you turtles..close it means half meter and quites so you can do wonderful pictures..and close to you reef sharks and a big school of barracuda at not more than pair of meters from you…and the dive cave “turtle cave” great..

  7. Dived at Sipadan last August. It was one hell of a crazy trip. It was raining heavily with crazy wind,we could hardly see the oil rig that was right in front of the jetty. We decided to go ahead to the dive sites (the captain did a splendid job locating the island). The ride was very bumpy but it was all worth it. Due to the unfavorable weather, we were diving mostly at Barracuda point, Turtle Cavern & Coral Gardens. It ‘s an indescribable feeling surrounded by hundreds of giant tunas, swimming with jackfish & bumphead parrot fish,& being so close to the white tips & turtles everywhere..plus school of barracudas…im still reeling in the feeling
    Besides that, we did an excursion to Sipadan Barrier Reef. Our group did not manage to see the eagle rays on our first dive (when the rest of the groups did). Being unsatisfied, the four of us agreed to go back to the same site to give it another try. After 20 minutes or so diving into the blue, we had to turn back, our dm saw a ray swimming in front and all of us chased after it but we then lost it.. when my dive buddy & i turned around, there were more than 30 rays behind us..it was ecstatic..it will be carved in my memory for the rest of my life

    Would definitely return to sipadan & mabul again

  8. Hello,

    We would like to dive at Sipidan Island on either 28, 29, 30th if possible.

    We would like 2-3 dives at sipidan island, then another one or two days diving at other places.

    New will have accomodation on semporna-do you off the dives we are looking for? Can you let me know how much it costs?

    Many thanks

    Georgina & Graham

  9. Sipidan is the most spectacular dive site I have visited to date. The best dive was the early morning dive, we must have seen at least 20 sharks, albeit no hammers.The vis is great, the water warm, the variety extensive. If you have not been this is the place to visit, it took my breath away.

  10. Hi there,
    I am planning to go to Sipadan in mid-January. I recently got certified as an open water diver and have logged 11 dives. How’s the weather there now? Any advice regarding prettier dive sites? Thanks!

  11. We are considering going to Sipadan OR Bunaken in sulawesi, Indonesia… does anybody have experience at both places and reasons to prefer the one over the other? :-) unfortunately we don’t have time to do both… (at least not this time;-) )

  12. Hi!
    I am planning on going to Sipadan in October next year for snorkeling. I am thinking of going with Scuba Junkie and staying at Mabul Beach Resort, does any of you have experiences with them?
    I am trying to figure out what the difference is between snorkeling at Sipadan Island and at Sipadan Barrier Reef. The packages to Sipadan Island are way more expensive, but is it worth the money? or is Sipadan Barrier Reef just as great?
    Kind regards,
    Nina

    • I’ve dive in that region since 1995 when there’s no curfew and the resorts are still operating in Sipadan. It has been a shame since I went back in 2013 and the dive sites have been deterioating ever since. There’s one dive I did just in front of Scubajunkie and I was just swimming in the sandy bottom for the whole dive until I hit the house reef then they’s something to see, otherwise, you are going to be quite dissapointed! Go to the Philippines like Maolboal, Bohol, Tubattaha reefs for your money worth. I’m just being honest from my point of view.

    • Hi Nina,

      I have been diving that area (Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai) for nearly 20 years. Yes – there have been some changes but I still think it’s a great trip. The permit system that is in place is to protect the reefs and marine life and has done a good job of that.
      I am a diver – not a snorkeler. But, I travel with some people that are avid snorkelers and they have been very happy in this area.
      Sipadan Water Village has a huge area just under and around the resort that is great for snorkeling. You can spend hours just snorkeling around the resort! They also provide boat trips to take you to other snorkeling sites.
      I hope you have a great trip.

  13. I stayed with Scuba Junkie January this year for a week, and did my advanced open water there. It is an ok resort, however the beach near it is quite polluted and there is nothing much for a snorkeler to see near the house reefs. Sipadan Islands and Sipadan Barrier Reef is where the beauty is. However, to dive at Sipadan Islands Scuba Junkie demands that guests stay with them a certain number of nights (3 or 4 – don’t remember), due to high demand for Sipadan Island.

    I suggest staying at Semporna and doing day trips with other companies to these islands. And do check out Tun Sakaran Marine Park. It is a stunning island!

  14. Hi everyone, I’m going to Semporna in August and I really don’t want to play the minimum ‘3 nights at the resort just to get a Sipadan permit’ game, or pay 1000 ringgit for one day of diving. I am happy to dive on the other islands instead. Can anyone recommend me the best NON-Sipadan dive sites in the area? Thanks.

  15. Dived in Sipadan about a year back with Scuba Junkie, and it has been the best for me so far, and i think this place set the bar so high.

    Diving & assistance was great, the rooms were great, food was great, the company was great too. couldnt have asked for more.

    highly recommend and will return someday in future :)

  16. Sipidan has been the most memorable and wonderful dive site that we have done so far. We have dived in Australia (Great Barrier), Thailand (Koh Tao, and Phi Phi), Hawaii (Maui and Waikiki), and Honduras (Roatan) and this place is the best place to dive hands down. We seen lots of reef sharks, wonderful plant and fish life as well. The diving is pretty easy as well, but the downside is that only 120 people per day can get a permit to dive in Sipidan so we had to reserve 4 nights at our resort to get 1 day of diving in Sipidan but the resort allowed unlimited diving as well.

  17. Hello, we would like to dive in Sipadan sometime between 25. Nov-8.december . Would like to know if the vizibility and weatherconditions are good ( nor rainy season). Thank you!

  18. I have dived in Sipadan last month, and it was onlt then that I really understood what a coral bleaching is. Very sad, the corals are inbad condition, not nice to see. The fishes are still there, maybe not as much as before, but also depends on your Luck. I really dont recommend, also it is really expensive- I have payed 750 ringgit. Not worthy.

  19. I have been keeping my mouth shut as I didnt really want to hurt any body feelings. Sad to say “I told you so”. I love my country and I like nothing more then to see people come to enjoy our islands and brag about it when they return. Unfortunately, this has not been the case here as I have overheard many sad comments when I am in the plane travelling back to KL. I think this place need to do more work. Damage is already been done years ago.

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Have you dived in Sipadan?

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