Semporna, a small fishing town on one of the east most corners of Malaysia, situated on the island of Borneo.
Sipadan is a small island accessible from Semporna, one can either stay at Semporna itself which is a very small town with not too many restaurants and such. Alternatively, there are some resorts on smaller islands near Sipadan which can be accessed via a quick speedboat ride from Semporna Jetty.
Closest Airpot: Tawau
Route: Delhi – Kuala Lumpur + Kuala Lumpur – Tawau + 2.5 hour Taxi to Semporna
Number of Nights – 7
Diving Days – 6
Total Dives – 18
Scuba Circle arrived at Sipadan all excited for 6 days of nonstop diving.
We dived with Sipadan Scuba, one of the best people you can dive with while staying on Sipadan. If you want a slightly more luxurious experience we recommend Scuba Junkies on Mabul Island. While we didn’t dive at the Dive Rig near Sipadan, we have heard good things about it.
Seeing a turtle on our first dive at Sipadan left us ecstatic and only longing for more. It was not much later that we came across a White Tip Reef Shark, needless to say, it was an amazing start to our trip.
Water temperature was amazing and as always we love diving in tropical waters where shorts/swimming costume and rash guard do the trick. While many were donning wetsuits the water temperature was comfortable for a rash guard.
Dive sites towards the south of Semporna are far, most taking at least around 1.5 hours to reach depending upon the wind conditions and surface choppiness, but with a covered boat and amazing weather, we had no complaints. All our dive guides were friendly and helpful. While the rental gear wasn’t the best quality most of us had our own equipment, which the dive guides were more than happy to help us set up on the tanks. As always we encourage our certified divers to set their own equipment up, especially for the first dive as there is no better judge of your own safety than yourselves. It is very important to ensure that every piece of equipment is up to the mark and always better to ask and clear any confusions with your Dive Master. There are never any stupid questions!
In order to protect Sipadan Island permits are not given out very freely. Most dive shops get 7 licenses which is about the capacity of most boats and thus it’s not crowded, but that also makes diving in Sipadan itself more expensive. However, the dive shops usually make a package for you, for example, we had a 6-day package with 3 days guaranteed at Sipadan. Which we got and happily dived! (Note: 3 days Sipadan in a 6-day package is above average)
While we didn’t see any Mantas at Manta Point, the visibility was amazing and we got to see a wreck. The general consensus was that while Sipadan was amazing the other dive spots also had a lot to offer and should not be missed. If we come back we might stay at Mabul Island as there have been hammerhead sightings before which is simply too exciting to pass up.
Currents overall weren’t anything to worry about and even divers with fewer dives had no issues. There were some Advanced Diver Students so we gladly accompanied them to the all exciting 30-meter mark, our founder decided to go to 35.3, go figure.
Due to the abundant dynamite fishing in the past the signs of which are clearly visible, the landscape has changed from what it was once, but it is still surreal and beautiful and luckily the Malaysian government is enacting laws to protect the envirnoment including the underwater one to whatever extent possible.
On the dives at Sipadan, we got to have lunch on the island itself which was clean and beautiful with a restroom. Very convenient. On the other days, we roughed it out on the boat. But as we were more excited to get back underwater there were no complains from anyone and with the boat being large enough to accommodate more divers we were more than comfortable.
Semporna being a smaller town most dive shops require you to maintain your own equipment post dives, including the rental gear for your entire trip. Tiring but fun this also ensures you know your equipment is clean the next day. Always remember to follow our guide to ensure you clean your equipment properly and also to ensure you don’t make any newbie mistakes such as getting water into your 1st stage.
Lunch served is always tasty, between Fried Rice and Noodles, you won’t go hungry. Options at Semporna also are minimal so don’t expect anything fancy.