The astounding Sipadan Island or Pulau Sipadan of Malaysia is situated at the East Coast of Borneo in Sabah. In case you are not aware, Sipadan Island is known to offer its tourists with the best scuba diving experience in Malaysia. One of the ever considered Sipadan facts is that your visit to this island will be a complete waste if you do not experience this thrilling activity. From different parts of the world, people especially come to Sipadan Island to lay their sight on the scintillating corals and reef life of some of the most renowned diving spots.
Schools of Barracudas and Sharks, Bumphead Parrot Fishes and Sea Turtles, Sharks and Jacks can be see obscuring your way into the underwater world. The island is very small with a space of only 12 hectares, but what makes it most special is that it is Malaysia’s sole oceanic island with a vast diversity of marine life & untouched coral.
This is the perfect place for all those people who daring enough to take an interest in recreational activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. The island will certainly give you a chance to experience the best time of your life, and you will reminisce the thoughts on your way back home. Adventure lovers from every corner especially come here to experience the pleasure of scuba diving and Sipadan Island leaves them completely exhilarated.
Sipadan Facts with a Brief Overview
People have been coming to this miraculous island to observe its pristine beauty for over many years now, but one of the Sipadan facts, which cannot be ignored, is that along with the increasing numbers of tourists is no less than a threat to the prestigious marine life of Sipadan Island. These pelagic creatures are at constant risk of being harmed so there was a need to take some steps for safeguarding the island.
In the past, Pulau Sipadan has gone through a rough time where it has constantly struggled with its tourism industry. So after many difficulties, the Malaysian Government has finally taken some serious measures to preserve and safeguard the delicate marine life of the Island and one being issuing of permit to the tourists visiting Sipadan Island.
How to Reach Sipadan Island
The easiest way to get to Sipadan Island is to fly to Tawau Airport in Sabah as it the closest airport to Kapalai, Sipadan and Mabul islands. It is advisable to grab a flight to Tawau from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu as it will save your energy and time. However, there are bus, taxi and minivan services as well that will take you to Tawau Airport from the northern towns of Sabah like Sandakan, Sukau, Kota Kinabalu and Lahad Datu.
Upon your arrival at Tawau Airport you will be transferred to Semporna from your resort. From there onwards, you will have to catch the resort’s speed boat to Mabul Island. The time it takes to move from Tawau to Semporna is approximately 90 minutes while the boat ride takes almost 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
If you are traveling from Kuala Lumpur you can easily catch a flight to Tawau and reach in 2 hours 45 minutes because of the frequency of flights going between the two destinations. Alternatively, Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah is closer to Tawau so it will take you only 50 minutes to reach if you travel by air. You must make sure that you flight disembarks no later than 2:00 pm if you wish to make it to the island on the same day.
Things you can do at Sipadan Island
One of the much agreed Sipadan facts is that the awe-inspiring views of this Island make your eyes pop out of your sockets as visiting this place, will be no less than dream comes true. This small yet fantastic island is loaded with some of the best resorts and diving spots situated very close to one another.
In the underwater world of Pulau Sipadan, you will come across endless species of fishes and sea creatures under water and it will be impossible for you to keep track of all the species. There are some restrictions you have to take care of while you are visiting Sipadan Island, and because of the immense safety precautions that have been taken to preserve the island the maximum number of divers permitted per day are just 120.
An alternative for non-divers is snorkeling in the fantastic deep sea of Sipadan Island, which is equally as fun as scuba diving. From the surface you can observe numerous corals and reef fishes and even turtles or sharks if you are extremely lucky. You can also experience Sipadan Liveaboard activity which is quite popular among western tourists.
Not only is the island renowned for its deep sea life, but has also made its mark in sustaining the most exclusive species like Sea Eagles, Wood Pigeons, Kingfishers, Sunbirds and a lot more. You can easily go to view these and many other vibrant colored birds on various spots of Sipadan Island. These birds will be an additional beauty to the island so if you are a bird lover and bird watching is amongst your hobby then you are in for a real treat.
Choosing Where to Stay
The only difficulty you will face is choosing where to stay in Sipadan Island. Because of the strict measures that have been taken to preserve the island, all the resorts have been shut down at Sipadan Island since 2005 and visitors are expected to lodge at the resorts at either Mabul Island or Kapalai Island which are not very far away from Sipadan Island. You can grab a speedboat from Pulau Sipadan and reach Kapalai Island in approximately 20 minutes where you can stay at the Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort.
Mabul Island has a couple of interesting dive resorts and there are various communities residing there whose survival is based on fishing and supporting the tourism industry. There are numerous diving sites located nearby the shore which makes Sipadan Island the absolute destination for you to dive from a resort. However, some of the resorts of Kapalai Island and Mabul Island also offer macro diving opportunities, where you come across many unusual critters.
The most amazing Sipadan Island fact is that there are approximately 40 diving sites and hence, you need to plan your stay accordingly (if you wish to explore each and every spot).
The non-divers should not be disheartened as these resorts not only let you benefit from scuba diving and snorkeling, but also let you enjoy many other non-diving activities which are available for people of all age groups, and both for the divers and non-divers. Visitors are expected to make a booking in advance in order to stay at any of these resorts, after which you will catch a boat from Semporna Island to Mabul Island. This is so because the resorts are mostly fully occupied so it is best to confirm your booking beforehand.
If you are not that high on budget then you are advised to lodge at the village of Semporna because these resorts are a bit overpriced, especially when it’s fully booked.
Related Article: Sipadan Water Village Resort
Best time to visit
One of the many Sipadan Island facts is that you have to keep track of the time and temperature, when you plan to visit this island. The island enjoys a temperate climate and the mean range usually lies between 28-34°C. At day time the temperature is usually low at 22°C but generally increases during the evenings. Even though the island is hardly affected by the monsoon seasons, during the months of December-March you can experience intermittent periods of substantial rain. Mabul and Sipadan are the two islands which encounter cool sea breezes, so even when the humidity is high at 85-95% these cool breezes eventually make it very pleasant.
Related Article: Best time to visit Sipadan Island
Hope the above discussed Sipadan facts and information will assist you in making a wise decision regarding your vacation plan and activities. There is a lot more to do on this island except diving and snorkeling.
Photo Credit: Irwandy Mazwir