Sipadan is one of Malaysia’s most precious gem, voted one of the best dive sites in the world. Any divers would want a taste of Sipadan’s dive sites. Famous for its wall dives where the bottom seemed endless, sightings of whitetip sharks, schools of jack fish, barracudas, hammerheads, turtles, reef and flamboyant cuttlefish, ornate ghost pipefish, frogfish, nudibranchs, colourful corals, just to name a few.
Before I go into the topic of this post, let me give you a slight info on diving in Sipadan
We went on to plan out our trip to Sipadan anyways-despite all the kidnapping episodes. As a diver, you must dive in Sipadan in your lifetime. To come to Sipadan would have to take a flight down to Tawau, one half hour drive from the airport to Semporna (we took cab from the airport, managed to share a ride with two Chinese tourists), in which from there you would have to take a boat ride to your respective islands. There are a few islands for you to stay at, but we opted for Mabul Island-that’s about one hour boat ride from Semporna. Put that all together you have about 5.5 hours of travelling, which is not bad.
Its worthy to take note that to travel here and dive in Sipadan may not be the cheapest (in Malaysia, only if you’re earning foreign currency). Flight to Tawau is the furthest local flight from Kuala Lumpur, and rarely would you find one way ticket that is less than MYR 400.
To dive in Sipadan you would need at least an advanced diving license-and a permit to dive. Sipadan limits its number of divers, capped at 100 divers per day. A dive operator here in Mabul would charge you around MYR800 for one day-3 dives in Sipadan, inclusive of lunch and permit fees. That for a Malaysian standard, is slightly expensive.
….but what went wrong?
I wish I could answer you
When we took the boat from Mabul to Sipadan, the weather was alright, wasn’t too sunny, just slightly cloudy. Water was calm, wasn’t raining the night before.
Checked in at the island’s registration and boom, we were stoked for the day. Above surface, the island is small, quiet, with mini forest in the middle. Our first dive was alrightttt. Didn’t see much, but we did saw bumpheads, turtles, sharks, puffer fish, corals, the typical stuff and current was fine.
After not seeing anything (and by anything I mean not even one jack fish or barracudas, what you come to Sipadan for) during the second dive, our dive master was rather weirded out. He is a local, who have been diving in Mabul/Sipadan for at least 10 years and dives in Sipadan for at least 3 days a week. And that ladies and gentlemen, for this guy to be weirded out for the day and say I’ve never experienced this ever in my whole diving career was rather……….worrying.
Before we headed out for our third and last dive, he asked the boatman to go around the island looking for any sighting of the jack fish from the surface. No luck guys. No luck. He didn’t give up and still searched for about another 30 minutes.
He said let’s gamble for the barracuda point and we descent there. You guessed it-no luck for the third dive too.
Diving is all about luck and I guess we were literally the one in a thousand on the day, possibly one in a million. Sipadan is one of those places thats in season all year round, so by default you should see at least something. ONE jack fish at least. I’ve yet to hear someone say that they, too didn’t see any. We chatted with the group of Chinese that went to Sipadan the day before us and they told us they saw SOO many things, jack fish schools and barracudas vortex included. And also the group that went the day after us. Really…what happened? Rumour has it that they were a minor earthquake nearby-could be possibly be on of the reason. if anyone knows, please, let me know?
Will I go again and take the risk? Maybe yes, but not for now. To be honest I’d rather use the same amount of money on another dive trip to Indo or something.
Till then, Mabul you’re beautiful, but it breaks my heart having to share with other divers that I saw nothing in Sipadan.