Published: Mar 01, 2019

Sipadan Island Diving

Proboscis Monkey jumping across the canopies of Sabah rainforests!

The lush and tropical land of Sabah has been blessed with nature’s beauty and abundance. Home to well over 600 species of flora and fauna, the jungles of Sabah pride themselves in being Southeast Asia’s most fertile and diverse ground for forest dwellers. But it does not stop there. Stepping away from the land, you will see that much like the land, the sea of Sabah is equally blessed with nature’s bounty. Explore a whole other world of beauty as you plunge into both the shallow and deep water of the Celebes Sea during your exciting adventure at Sipadan Island.

Hawksbill turtle resting among a dive wreck area.

Being the only oceanic island in Sabah, Sipadan is teeming with many surprises lurking in every corner of the island. The sandy white beach sweeps gently on your feet as you make your way around the sandy beachside or as you enjoy your time basking under the warm afternoon sun. When we are talking about the view you will get to enjoy during your time there, Sipadan Island packs quite a punch.

To the north, you will see Mabul Island – a neighbouring island also known for its iconic wooden platform resort and beautiful beach. While you may not be able to swim your way all the way to the island, there are tour packages that you can opt for if you are highly interested in visiting the beautiful island yourself. Do check out our Mabul Island and Sipadan Backpackers Tour options for more details on the available choices. As you gaze into the distance, be mesmerized by the glistening waves and crystalline water of the Celebes Sea breaking onto the sandy beach and on your very feet. The cool water will provide a refreshing respite from the midday sun and cool yourself down after an afternoon full of fun as you find that the desire to swim in the cool ocean becoming more and more irresistible.

To the northeast, you may be able to make out the silhouette of a boat-shaped oil rig in the distance. Rest assured, your eyes are not deceiving you. It was in fact, an oil rig once. It had since then been reused and repurposed for something better – a diving rig! Indeed, the iconic rig has now become another popular destination for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts as a must go destination for avid adventure travellers. The titanic diving rig is also home to attractive resort accommodations. The beautifully decorated room evokes a sense of nostalgia for its guests and put a whole new meaning to living out at sea. After all, why live on a boat when you can live on an oil-rig-turned-diving-platform in the beautiful Celebes Sea? If this feels like an experience you would like to explore further, again feel free to check out our tour package on the Diving Rig for more information.

The underwater world of Sipadan.

But a journey to Sipadan will not be complete without a dip into the beautiful ocean. Indeed, the island provides you with all you need for a wonderful diving session. Rent your very own diving equipment from the local pop up stores found on the island and make your way into the water of the Celebes Sea. Do keep in mind that you may need a diving permit to swim at certain locations of the ocean so please prepare in advance for it. If you have never dived before and would like to learn the basics, there are also diving classes run by the local resorts and locals which are designed to make it easy for you to pick up on the fundamentals of diving. One way or another, you are definitely going to get yourself into the water. So strap up, gear up and get pumped up as you “flipper” your way into the water – pun intended.

Of course, if you prefer a more relaxing approach, you can opt for a snorkel instead. Looking into the ocean bed from the surface, you will get a bird’s eye view of the vast seabed and the occasional stonefish coming out of hiding. Swim around with bumphead parrotfish, barracuda and big-eye trevally roaming near the surface of the water. If you are lucky, you will also be able to swim around with whale sharks coming near the surface to feed. Don’t worry though – they are friendly!

Corals around Sipadan and Mabul Island.

The water of the Celebes Sea is blessed with rich corals and colourful fishes. This will become apparent as you explore the nooks and crannies of the underwater world during your dive. Manta rays swimming over your head, whale sharks circling you out of pure curiosity, green turtles surfing the water by your side – they all represent the diversity of the Celebes Sea and are a part of the whole submarine ecosystem that makes up the Celebes Sea. Let it sink in (again, pun intended) that by being there you are not only looking at the inhabitants of the ocean but are also witnessing how each of the inhabitants play their own important role in the ocean life.

For the lucky few, whale sharks have been sighted around the islands too!

The extra surprise? Well, green turtles and hawksbill turtles love to nest and lay their eggs onshore – and Sipadan is one of the turtles’ favourite hotspots. So keep your eyes out for hidden nests around the island that turtles may have laid for their younglings. Of course, be careful not to tamper and damage the nests as they are critical to the survival of the young turtles. But feel free to take a picture and cross that off your bucket list as you make your way around Sipadan Island.

Sipadan Island is a destination that you should not be missing. This famous diving island has stood the test and been dubbed one of Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine’s Top Dive Destination in the World for a good reason – because it’s just that good!

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