Sipadan Island : White Tip Avenue

With a backward roll into the water, you quickly discover that White Tip Avenue will be another exciting Sipadan wall dive as a school of adult batfish confidently greet you near the surface. As you descend a few meters and give a few fin kicks to the wall, White Tip Avenue offers a unique sight of huge canyon like crevices on the fringe of the shallow top reef where you can float over and take a look down into the beautiful formations as you prepare for your descent.

Even though White Tip Avenue is a wall dive, you will find many rocky slopes and ledges where white tip sharks are regularly seen as they rest outside the current preparing to hunt for their next meal. The typical dive depth for White Tip Avenue ranges from 18 to 30 meters, sometimes up to 40 meters if there are reports that larger pelagics have been sighted at depths. But, keep in mind that with all sites at Sipadan, depths plunge well below the 40-meter recreational diving limits to depths exceeding 600+ meters. So, keep your eye on your computer and dive the plan because it is easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the dive.

As you drift along with the current, you will quickly notice that you are not the only large creatures enjoying this dive site. White Tip Avenue is no exception to regular sightings of the large pelagics divers flock to Sipandan to observe. The list includes white tip and grey reef sharks, turtles, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead wrasse and the graceful spotted eagle ray. Look back towards the wall and massive gorgonian sea fans are waving in the current, a unique feature to this site. In the coral formations surrounding the sea fans, you’re likely to see an awkward looking boxfish, the always elusive eels, and camouflaged clams that make their residence here. Continuing on with the current you are likely the resident schools of barracuda and jacks that continuously make their way around the island. White Tip Avenue is one of the places you will see large schools of jacks and barracuda from time to time, which never ceases to excite as we are driven to observe them and join with them in the towering tornadoes the schools create.

As we reach our safety stop, like many of the other dive sites, the top reef is a filled with beautiful scenery of small fish darting in and out of the hard corals. Inside these corals you’ll see parrotfish, anthias, chromis, as well as anemones with clown fish curiously peeking out at you providing an entertaining show. Juvenile batfish remain shy among the coral, while damselfish move about at dizzying speeds.

White Tip Avenue is usually a mild current dive that allows the diver to reach neutral buoyancy at their desired depth and then follow the wall without even a fin kick. However, skillfully using your fin like a rudder to maneuver within a comfortable distance from the wall will allow you to see the beautiful black coral while looking out into the blue to capture frequent glimpses of the pacing sharks. As with most of the sites at Sipadan, experience with current is a plus as you are likely to experience at least a mild current. White Tip Avenue is an East facing dive site that is best in the morning or early afternoon when the sun is illuminating the reef to display its amazing colors.

Until next post! –Dan, Esther, Lana and Tim

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