Published: May 9th 2011May 9th 2011
We have both done some incredible things on our trip which we will never forget, but our two days in the underwater world of Sipadan were the best yet.
Known as one of the best dive sites in the world, Sipadan is (now) an uninhabited island off the east coast of Borneo. Due to it's magnificent reputation, the government imposed a permit scheme, where only 100 divers per day are allowed to visit the island and it's surrounding reefs, therefore protecting it from overuse and development. Because of this, we had to book our permits in advance and after a long period of sending emails, we managed to secure a days diving in Sipadan along with a days diving off the nearby island of Mabul. The company who we booked with were the cheapest we found, and after reading some bad reviews we were slightly apprehensive about what our experience would be, but this was far from the case as Billabong divers were brilliant.
Our dive package included a days diving in the areas of Mabul and Kapalai (where our dive school was located). Even here the diving is amazing, with some of the best macro and
muck diving in the world. Kapalai also has an artificial reef with little houses to swim around which is great fun, here we saw lots of macro life but also a huge barracuda, a pretty large morey eel and the biggest grouper fish we have ever seen! We were also really lucky that billabong dive school was based on Mabul as many of the other companies are based in Semporna, meaning they have to travel quite a distance to get to the dive sites. Mabul is also a much nicer place to stay than Semporna, it is a lovely little undeveloped island, full of kids playing football and marbles, with fishermen everywhere you look. Our dive school was built out of wood on stilts over the sea, and so had a pretty nice ocean view to sit with a cup of tea after a dive and watch the world go by; it's a hard life ey?!
And as for the diving in Sipadan.....
Out of this world!! We had 3 dives at 3 different locations around the island; "barracuda point", "south point" and "the drop off"! All 3 were spectacular in terms of the marine life, but the drop
off was a sight in itself; about 5 m from the shore the ocean floor literally drops 600m below you and you can just look down into the abyss! The coral on the drop off is also impressive and supports thousands of fish and marine invertebrates that are just everywhere you look!
The best part about all 3 dives were the large abundance of turtles and reef sharks! It is these creatures that Sipadan is renowned for and so we were desperate to catch a glimpse........... and it didn't disappoint; they were everywhere; swimming above and below you, and relaxing and sleeping in small coves and on rocks. It was such an overwhelming feeling to be able to swim along side these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, coming within centimetres of them! It's pretty exciting to look a shark in the eye or to watch a turtle as it sits fast asleep, peacefully in amongst the rocks, words cannot describe how beautiful it was.
We could go on all day about this paradise, it truly was spectacular.
There are more photos below