dive sites

South Point: This is a typical dive at Sipadan Island - colourful abundant walls, sharks, turtles and schools of fish in big numbers and all the while the possibility of seeing something really exciting such as hammerheads or thresher sharks. Cruising along you won't be sure whether it is a better idea to poke around in the wall or keep an eye out for the bigger stuff. As with many of the other sites, there is no hanging around in the blue doing a boring safety stop. Instead you will want the use of every breath of air in your tank as you spend the last few minutes hovering over coral gardens with as much colourful life and activity as anywhere.

Barracuda Point: One of the favourite Sipadan dive sites. Hordes of turtles, vast schools of jacks, bannerfish and snapper are merely bit part players on this site. A variety of sharks are also likely to be spotted but the real stars of this show are the eponymous barracuda. Find yourself in the eye of the hurricane that is the enormous vortex of barracuda here and you will be simply awestruck.

Turtle Cavern: his site not dived as much these days as it was before the closure of the resorts based on Sipadan Island itself, but it is well worth doing as it is unlike any of the other sites. Before approaching the cave entrance you may well be stunned to see a marauding horde of huge bumphead parrotfish charging past you as you sink down the wall.

Whitetip Avenue:A coral reef located at a shallow depth before plunging into the 600 metres vertical abyss, Sipadan diving is full of unexpected encounters. You'll find yourself in the middle of a huge silver school of bigeye travellies or within a colourful palette of gigantic bumphead parrotfish. The wall is full of terraces, crevices, ledges and vertical chimneys which are worth a look into - you'll find sponges of all shapes and colours, black coral colonies and gorgonian fans. Among this rich coral life, you'll find reef and den fish circulating merrily. Watch out for groupers, emperor angelfish, moorish idols, triggerfish, parrotfish, clownfish, boxfish, scorpionfish and butterflyfish. You may also find yourself cavorting with a friendly turtle (or 10!). The open sea on the other side holds encounters with pelagics of Sipadan like the grey reef shark, and naturally, whitetip reef sharks. Novice divers are not encouraged to venture into the deep side of the drop-off.

Hanging Gardens: In a nutshell, this is a wall dive which begins with a drop-off just over a metre from the surface, descends gradually to a terrace at about 70 metres and then plunges into an abyss. Within the cavities and crevices on the wall, you'll find colonies of sweetlips, gobies, hawkfish, emperor angelfish, moray eels and coral groupers lurking around. Turtles are a common sight when you're diving Sipadan and this site is no exception; in particular, green turtles and imbricate turtles. Don't be surprised if you come across dozens of ribbontail stingrays as well.

Midreef: Lazily decend to your required depth down the vertical wall that forms Sipadan Midreef, then just drift along with the current, whichever way it takes you - north or south. The 6 metre hard coral flats that top the reef make an ideal safety stop. Small hardy stubbly table corals, and porites corals dominate here, and these form the staple diet for packs of bumphead parrotfish, sometimes 40 or so strong. Moving like a herd of African buffalo, munching their way through the dense bush, these largest of all parrotfish are a terrific sight and safety stops often become very long here!