Borneo Divers : What’s the Big Deal About Sipadan Diving? {Part 3 of 3}

“Top 10” lists. All of us are guilty of creating them. From restaurants we want to eat at to books we need to read. Scuba diving is no different. What we judge or perceive to be the best of the best, as far as dive sites are concerned, will differ from diver to diver. These “Top 10” lists are very personal and seldom will it occur that any two lists will be the same, but certain dive locations evoke a powerful feeling and excite our imagination, thus, making the list for most people. These dive sites bring our community together in fellowship to experience nature at its finest.

Punctuating out of sea floor in the middle of the Celebes Sea, Sipadan is just one of these places many of us dream about. It has garnered favor in the dive community for many years. Seldom do we find a dive zone that has a little of everything for all divers, but Sipadan is a special place that offers as much diversity in topography as it does in sea life. Looking for pelagics? Macro? Turtles? Stunning coral reefs? You will find it all here.

Although Borneo Divers has been the pioneer of Sipadan diving since 1983, it is the colorful Jacques Cousteau, who echoed the words in his film, Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle (1989): “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art.” Jacques Cousteau said it, the world listened, and divers around the globe have been coming in droves to experience the beauty of Sipadan for more than 20 years! From that moment on, Sipadan escalated to become one of “the” places to dive in the world and tales from Borneo surged exciting more divers to come and many more to dream.

So what is the big deal about diving at Sipadan? The near perfect eco-system with colorful hard and soft corals circle the island providing a playground for smaller reef fish like chromis and anthias numbering in the thousands. You will also see larger species such as the parrotfish, Napolean wrasse and bumphead wrasse that find their nutrition in the coral. Massive bubble, sebae and carpet anemones cover the reef for curious clown fish to hide out. But for many, the excitement comes from the bigger stuff like schooling jacks and barracuda, massive trevallies, sharks, eagle rays, and many other pelagics that come in to feast on a smorgasbord of opportunity. Oh yeah, for anyone who loves turtles, you will be guaranteed at least one (more like 20 to 30) green and hawksbill turtles on every dive! The diversity of Sipadan is absolutely amazing.

While diving in this region is top-notch, it is not limited to Sipadan. Hundreds of amazing dive sites ranging from smaller wall drifts on the South shore of Mabul, to muck dives around neighboring islands, to white sand slopes, all covered in a kaleidoscope of colorful corals, reef fish and other little critters. Yes! And to our delight, we found that there are still areas near Sipadan and Mabul that have not yet been explored and others that are unnamed. How exciting is that?

In the posts to come, we will navigate our way around the various dive sites at Sipadan and then proceed on to neighboring Mabul, Kapalai, Sibuan and Mantabuan. Of course, we were unable to dive all of these sites on this trip, so we will revert back to solid logbook entries by Lana (because Tim is terrible at keeping his logbook up to date) to share what was seen.

Have you been scuba diving around Sipadan? How did you like it? Share your experiences below!

Happy Diving! –Dan, Esther, Tim & Lana

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