- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Extreme Sports
- Water Sports
I'd got myself into my accommodation on the island of Mabul (off the coast of Semporna), where I'd be doing my Advanced Open Water Diver certification, and had had a foretaste of what would be the focus of the three-day course by heading out to Sipadan Island with Katherine, my Swiss-Germanbuddy. Three dives it would be, three wonderful dives in an idyllic location, all in various shades of blue.
When we arrived on the island we had to check-in at an office and provide our names, passport numbers, dates of birth and so on. Then it was off out in a boat to do our dives. We'd be returning to the island between each session. We saw sharks, turtles, all kinds of corals, shoals of barracuda and bumphead parrot fish. We dived through underwater caves. We saw shelves of resting turtles. Nudibranch sea slugs, a clown fish in its blue and white anemone, tables and gardens of coral: the majestic grandeur of the great underwater world all around us.
Jacques Cousteau made this place famous in France when he filmed a report about a cemetery of turtles. And it's true: turtles there indeed are. The ones that seemed to be lightly floating at our sides, however, were alive … very alive!
At the heart of the Celebes Sea, the little island of Sipadan is internationally known to be one of the world's best diving destinations.
A protected space with strict rules, all the hotels and diving centres were forced off the island in 2004 in order to protect the ecosystem. As such, you are only allowed daytime access to the island to enjoy the abundant submarine riches, both animal and coralline.
Diving in Sipadan offers high quality, unforgettable souvenirs thanks to its dizzyingly steep walls, coral carpets, caves, drifting dives and of course incredible fauna! About ten spots are open to you including the famous Barracuda Point, which is simply exceptional: in spite of a rather strong current, this is a congregation spot for grey reef and white-tip reef sharks, schools of jackfish, parrotfish and especially barracuda who sometimes make an impressive underwater tornado that I was lucky enough to admire from the inside!
This unique spectacle is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever set eyes on in all my life. Even though the dives are rather expensive and the area guarded by armed military (on every island including Sipadan, in a bid to combat piracy), these dives are too lovely to be missed.