Coral Gardens is a beautiful dive site located on the Northern tip of Sipadan’s East wall. Facing East, this dive site is best experienced in the morning with the sun illuminating the entire reef and showcasing the abundant fish and invertebrate life. This site begins as you descend upon a top reef filled with huge, multi-colored, tabling acropora coral which is teeming with tiny reef fish swimming in and out of their hard coral homes. At this depth, you are also likely to see giant trevally, jackfish, barracuda and an occasional white tip or grey reef shark. The colors of the fish and coral at three to five meters are so mesmerizing that you may not feel like heading for the wall. How can it possibly get any better than this? Spend a few minutes here and then head for the wall to find out for yourself.
Once you crest the wall and begin your descent, you will not be disappointed. We floated down to 25 or 30 meters and began to drift along in the mild current. We saw some of the larger turtles Sipadan has to offer and looking out into the blue, a few white tip and grey reef sharks increased the excitement of an already stellar dive. With a couple of switchbacks along the way as we followed the currents, we observed some of the other critters you are likely to see at Coral Gardens including moray eels, the occasional frogfish, and loads of colorful grouper.
Given that this dive is especially susceptible to changing currents in the morning, it is important that you stay near your Dive Master. The current at Coral Gardens can change more than once in your dive pushing you in either direction toward Barracuda Point or White Tip Avenue. Knowing this, it is imperative to be aware of your surroundings at all times, remain close to your dive buddy, and further, this makes Coral Gardens a recommended dive for Advanced Divers.
Our 40-minute multi-level dive goes by quickly and in no time we are back on the top reef for our safety stop while we enjoy the playful fish and amazing corals. Because of the pristine coral life on its top reef, Coral Gardens invites many of the fish species that make Sipadan home, allowing you to see most of the fish (small and large) Sipadan has to offer, all concentrated in one dive site.
If you have only one day to dive at Sipadan, Coral Gardens is definitely one site to add to your list of the four you are allotted for the day.