Sipadan Island : Barracuda Point

After experiencing all of the dive sites of Sipadan has to offer (and truth be told, there will always be a million and one variations of the same dive based on depth, current and dive plan), the Scuba Dive Advisor team unanimously agreed that Barracuda Point is our favorite dive site on Sipadan. This is only pure conjecture, but we believe that Jacques Cousteau must have been speaking of Barracuda Point when he coined this now-famous phrase, “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art.” There are so many different topographies and species at different parts of the Barracuda Point dive that it feels as if you have four or five dives in one. Barracuda Point is so much a favorite that we dove it three times on this trip, and Tim and Lana, to date, have been at this site TEN times!

After our back roll into the water, we found our normal entry point on the fringe of a shallow reef teeming with coral and fish life. During two of our dives on sunny days, we were greeted by schools of bumphead wrasse numbering in the 30 to 50 range, the smallest of them being 40 to 50kg. When the water is calm, you can actually spot the schools of wrasse from far away and make your entry right beside them. The bumpheads are peaceful to watch, as they munch away on the corals at the top of the reef, as if they are oblivious to your presence and will allow you to get very close.

After five or ten minutes observing the bumpheads, it was off to the wall. Swimming over the shallow reef it is an amazing feeling to reach the edge of the 500+ meter drop off and float out into the blue like a bird. It was at this point during most of our dives at Barracuda Point that we saw the huge schools of jackfish Sipadan is famous for. Swimming under the thousands of schooling jacks, it is as if a cloud rolled in and blocked out the sun. But as you look up through the school, you can see the sun shimmering off of their shiny bodies. The jacks are inviting and let you swim up into the middle of the tornado it appears they have created, and like an infantry in unison, they march around you, never touching you. Many times, the opportunistic giant trevally are mixed right in the middle of the school of jacks. This made for amazing viewing and photos.

Onward we drift (this dive is amazing with current) in a Northeasterly direction as the current sweeps you past amazing walls of soft corals, hard corals and gorgonians that are amazing to see. As you are drifting by keep an eye out in the blue, as sharks are pacing down in the depths and you feel like you are on an adventure ride. As we start to come up the wall, we get to the point of the dive where we typically saw schooling barracuda (for which this site is aptly named) and sharks. This is a great time to find a small rock to get a finger-hold, or use a reef hook, so you can pause for a moment and watch as the white-tip and grey reef sharks come up from the deep to swim in the current. Because of this current, the sea life and activity that you can see at Barracuda Point is abundant and the chance of seeing pelagics is often better than other sites. Keep an eye on your computer because a lot of the big stuff is deep and with all the action, it is easy to go into deco-mode if you get lost in the action that is unfolding before your eyes.

Let go of your finger-hold and begin to ascend to the top of the reef and you enter into another dive all together. Once you crest the top of the reef, you find yourself in a channel where you effortlessly drift over resting green sea turtles and loads of white tip sharks lounging on the bottom. As you drift through this channel, you will quite frequently see giant schools of barracuda hovering in the current, an amazing sight to take in. At the end of the canyon, you will find yourself on a slope near the start of another wall dive. Generally, we found the current on top of the slope to be mild to non-existent at about 5-10 meters in depth, which is a great place to begin your safety stop. Take in all of the sights with hundreds of fish, diverse coral formations dotted anemones and resident clown fish that are always entertaining to observe.

Barracuda point is filled with excitement, diversity and best summarizes Sipadan diving with each dive presenting a new adventure. With depths reaching up to 30m (99 ft), this is best enjoyed by Advanced Open Water divers and those with experience in current. If you have both of these, then add Barracuda Point to your Top 10 list and experience the joy we have burned in our memory!

Take the Plunge! Dan, Esther, Lana and Tim

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