If you only have one day to dive Sipadan, Mid Reef would be a great addition to your list of top four dive sites to explore. Mid Reef is an East facing dive site best enjoyed in the morning or early afternoon when the sun illuminates the reef to display its amazing colors. Before you even enter the water, the morning view from the boat presents a beautiful photo opportunity of the tiny island of Sipadan. So, for those of you who have not made the giant stride into purchasing an Ikelite housing for your DSLR, bring your dry bag as you will have some of the best photo ops of Sipadan Island, fit for a postcard. The morning sun bounces perfectly off the island’s natural palm trees enabling you to capture many great pics.
Reviewing our dive log entries, Mid Reef has consistently offered the second best opportunity to spot schooling barracuda at either the start of our dive or at the end during our safety stop. So, if the barracuda have been playing shy at Barracuda Point, mention this feedback to your dive master to see what they think.
Mid Reef may boast an unimaginative name for a dive site but it is far from being that way under water. As its name suggests, it is sandwiched in the middle of the East facing wall between White Tip Avenue and Turtle Patch, generally at the crossroads of your best opportunity to spot the island’s greatest concentration of turtles and white tip sharks. Aside from Turtle Patch, you will most likely see more turtles at Mid Reef than any other site due to its close proximity to Turtle Beach where the young turtles from Sipadan’s hatchery are released. An adrenaline filled dive, similar to White Tip Avenue, drop down to your desired depth and float along with the mild current as the fish life fills your view with huge batfish usually in schools of 10 or more, beautiful black and orange juvenile batfish and loads of nudibranch.
Just like other East facing wall dives, there are great opportunities to view enormous sea fans and gorgonians along with massive barrel sponges. Now that you have been drifting along for a few minutes, flip over and look up toward the surface. What the SDA Team enjoys about this dive is that the diversity of coral gives the dive site, Hanging Gardens, a run for the money on appearance from the depths to the surface. Numerous shapes of massive corals excite the mind and make for a stunning view. Look beyond the corals. It is common for schools of fusiliers, sergeant majors and niger triggers, together with turtles, chromis, anthias and all sorts of other reef fish swimming in harmony above you.
Our experience with Mid Reef has generally provided us with a leisurely mild current allowing us to reach a neutral buoyancy at our desired depth and then follow the wall without even a fin kick. However, Sipadan is an oceanic island and that mild current can quickly gain a couple of knots and present challenges. So be aware and always dive with your buddy. Mid Reef is a 360 degree experience, which will distract you, with beauty at every angle.
All we can say is: Get out there and dive Sipadan!