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Dive trip report, Sipadan , Borneo divers

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Dates     : 25:th of March to 6:th of April 1996
Dives     : 40 including 2 at Mabul
Dive shop : Borneo divers

I took this trip because because I had read about Sipadan and heard that it was one of the best places in the world to dive at. That was probably true a few years ago and it still must be one of the very best shore/day boat diving places in the world!

Arial picture of Sipadan The accommodation is basic, but OK. There is one shared house with showers and toilets, not the warmest water but OK. No air con but a good enough fan in the 'bungalows'. There where 5 operators on the Island when I was there, now there are 7, 2 on Mabul and one on a old oilrig (yes it is true!) just off mabul, if you have been to any of the others please email me and tell me if they are better or worse. I think that Borneodivers is one of the better. They try to get European and American customers, some of the other resorts are specialising on Japan and Asia. The latest resort is said to have air con and be very luxurious ( compared to the rest of them ). We where picked up at all stops on our journey and where taken to the next hotel/airport/boat, if I remember correctly they picked us up 8 times and where never late.

The diving at Sipadan is the best I have ever seen!

My log from the checkout dive says: 
   3 turtles, 1 White tipped reef shark, 
   big school of jacks, vis 20 meters.

Next dive log says: 
    500++ barracudas, about 15 White tipped reef sharks, 
    11 seen at the same time, about 10 turtles, 25 meter vis

Picture of dininghall and diveshop at Sipadan

And it went on like that, 3 boat dives a day, 2 before lunch and 1 after, free shore diving as much as you can do, just walk 20 meter from your hut, to the dining hall then 30 more to the dive shop, get your gear, go out into the water, 0 meter at high tide, maybe 15 at low, swim 20 meter to the drop off and down you go!

From the dive boats you always do drift dives, you always have a dive master with you in the water and you are supposed to stay pretty close to him/her.

You could always see white tipped reef sharks sleeping between South point and Stag-horn crest or between Barracuda point and Coral gardens, we saw occasional leopard sharks and gray reef sharks, there is a school of scalloped hammerheads, but they tend to be deep, when I was there they where seen at 40 meters 2 times and much deeper once. I never saw them. You of course have all the normal reef fishes in abundance and a very good wall, and then the turtles, green and hawks-bill turtles, so many that I stopped counting! Other great sights is the schools of 500++ barracudas and 500++ jacks, it was the first time for me to see such a large school of such large fishes.

The only bad thing is that there are far to many people on the island now, not that you see other divers in the water very often but we all disturb the reef life, when we where there there was a lot of talk in the newspapers about the number of turtles laying eggs on Sipadan. The year before there had been about 200 per month, the same month in 1996 there where as few as 20. So unfortunately Sipadan is slowly being destroyed, if you plan to go there, go now donīt wait until it is to late.

Only Borneodivers allow night diving on your own, all other operators on sipadan do night dives with a dive master. This is because of 2 incidents of divers swimming into the cave during night dives and never coming out.

There is talk about laws that will maximize the number of people staying at Sipadan at one time. The laws where supposed to take effect in the beginning of 1998 but nothing have happened yet, if you are planning to go there try to check the current situation.


Mabul is a island which is close to Sipadan, here you wonīt find the big fishes but you will find lots of nice macro stuff. We did 2 dives here from Sipadan ( ask Joe to take you there ) and it is really recommended if you like small stuff, I saw lots of nudibrachs and I saw my first cuttlefish, really a facinating creature!

Sipadan cave

In Sipadan there is a cave with something called the turtle tomb, if you go here try to get a tour into the cave/cavern, there are remains of a few turtles that have lost themselves in there. 


Go there now or not at all, well go there as soon as possible, it will be one of the best places for a long time but it will only go downhill.


Date:        27/3 96       Depth: 22 meter
Dive sight:  Turtle patch  Dive time: 59 Minutes

Drop off into 500++ school of Jacks (bar jacks??), 
then off to about 15 White tipped reef sharks, 
then 500++ school of Sawtooth barracudas with 
extra jacks and occasional turtles!!
Then out of time! SUPER DIVE!!!

Also the remora that had lost it's shark and checked me out as a new host, unfortunately I wasnīt accepted.


To many operators on the Islands, it will soon be destroyed.

Related links:

More triprepors from Sipadan

Dive sites visited:

All many times, except for west ridge which has a current going out into the sea sometimes.

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Last modified: September 26 1998
 visitors since June 7:Th, 1997.

Đ Stefan Sarin 1997-99