Sipadan Island : Hanging Gardens

Simply beautiful! This dive site is aptly named after Alexander the Great’s wonder of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Hanging Gardens dive site will not disappoint. With the steep walls and giant canyon like crevices any diver will be inspired to explore every nook and cranny of this dive site.

The topography at Hanging Gardens starts with a shallow top reef between two and five meters deep. At the edge of the top reef, Hanging Gardens has a steep drop off well past the recreational 40 meter limit. For the average open water diver, Hanging Gardens can be a great sight to dive, however with the steep wall, you should be confident in your buoyancy skills. If you do not have much experience with wall dives, some of the other sites on the island may be a better place to start. Then move on to some of the steeper wall dives in the afternoon.

Like many of the other sites Sipadan Island offers, Hanging Gardens’ top reef is so amazing and full of life that it’s hard to abandon to make your way to the wall. There are huge schools of anthias, chromis, wrasses, surgeon fish, trigger fish and many others. The amount of activity on the top reefs of Sipadan is incredible and we have rarely seen reefs that can even compare with their biodiversity. The rainbow of colors in the corals on the top reef are stunning with hard corals, soft corals, plate corals, and all sorts of polyp corals to view as the fish dart in and out of them. Spend a few minutes on the top and make your way to the wall so you can enjoy Sipadan Diving at its finest.

As you descend along the wall, the appeal of Hanging Gardens can truly be appreciated. The vibrant colors certainly appeal to the large reef fishes as they congregate in masses. On the wall at Hanging Gardens you are likely to see turtles, colorful grouper, triggers and possibly a few sharks. But for coral enthusiasts, the presence of multicolored carnation corals completes a “coral palate” for this incredible marine park.

Throughout our dive at Hanging Gardens we were nearly oblivious to the marine life teeming around us because we were so enchanted by the purple, pink and orange soft corals draping this wall. Floating along, a turtle greeted us in its’ swim to the surface. A quick breath of air, and he descended back to his perch on the wall. This reminded us to take in more than just the corals. Visibility is normally excellent at Hanging Gardens and many times tuna can be seen in the depths plunging deep into the darkness.

As you make your way back up to the top reef, it’s hard to miss the incredible macro life that finds shelter in the corals. Sometimes, it is difficult to discern between the coral and stonefish waiting for an ambush; so watch your buoyancy and keep your hands close to your body at all times. As you ascend into the safety stop range, you will once again have the pleasure of observing the abundance of fish and coral life while you off-gas and reluctantly prepare for your final ascent.

Happy Diving!

Dan, Esther, Lana & Tim


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