A spot of green in a sea of blue, Sipadan Island is one of the most exclusive and renowned dive destinations in the world.
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Located off the east coast of Sabah, Sipadan Island is a small 12 hectare land mass that rises just 600 metres from the seabed. Part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sipadan Island is known throughout the global diving community as one of the top dive destinations in the world. It also is one of the most exclusive as only 140 people are allowed to visit the island daily, with every visitor checking in at the national park jetty on arrival at Sipadan Island.
Only a tiny fraction of Sipadan Island is open to visitors and there are only basic amenities available, including a small resthouse and toilets. Sipadan Island is home to an extensive range of birds and it is common for visitors to spot at least a bird or two while on the island. The island used to offer accommodation, but conservation efforts in later years led to a decision to shut down and remove all accomodation on the island in 2004 to preserve the island's ecosystem. Accommodation is available at the nearby Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort just offshore Kapalai Island, on Mabul Island or at Semporna on the coast of Sabah.
Formed by a coral reef atop an extinct volcano cone, the island and the waters that surround it offer divers an amazingly rich experience, from snorkelling among the outlying reefs, to wall diving along the cone of the undersea volcano. The myriad of marine life seemingly on display in Sipadan's waters are simply astounding. Turtles, sharks and barracudas are just some of the inhabitants of this undersea paradise. There are as many as twelve well known dive sites around the island, including Barracuda Point, and Turtle Cave, each offering a unique look at the mysteries of the sea.
Sipadan Island is located off the coast of Sabah and is accessible only by boat, usually from Semporna, which is an hour and half's drive from Tawau. Boat rides from Semporna to the island take around an hour, but most visitors use the various dive resorts on Kapalai Island and Mabul Island as a hop to Sipadan.
Transport to the island is usually included in the various dive packages offered by tour operators.