Sipadan Scuba Diving: Things You Need to Know

sipadan scuba diving
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The island of Sipadan is known for being the top diving destination in Malaysia. It is a small area, but what it lacks in size, it really makes up for when it comes to all it has to offer.

Sipadan scuba diving is an experience like no other, with the potential to see incredible marine life. Aside from marine life, there are plenty of unique landscapes to explore.

Sipadan has been voted one of the world’s best diving locations and for a good reason. You can see schools of jackfish and barracuda as well as turtles, passing pelagic rays, and sharks. You can also drift alongside really incredible and dramatic vertical walls.

Sipadan Scuba Diving: When to Go

It is possible to take part in Sipadan scuba diving throughout the entire year. You will find the best conditions between March and July and then again between October and December. At those times, the surface conditions are generally quite calm and can even be as calm as glass.

During those times, you’ll also enjoy really comfortable temperatures with weather that is sunny and hot. The visibility during those periods ranges from around 15 meters to 30 meters.

Most divers who frequent Sipadan agree that the best months are between March and May when you can experience the highest level of visibility, usually ranging from 20 meters to 30 meters. Those months are likely also to give you the calmest waters and the best amount of sunshine.

March through May is then followed by November and early December, which could also be considered the best time to scuba dive in Sipadan. Next would be the months of June, July, and October.

In January and February, you will be up against windier conditions, which are also the cases in August and the early part of September. During all those months, you are also likely to experience a reduction in visibilities and choppier waters. Those waters can make for slightly uncomfortable boat rides.

With all of that said, the area really can be a great diving location at any time of the year.

The Best Dive Sites

There are a total of twelve notable dive sites and every one of which offers unique features. Those sites include White-Tip Avenue, Coral Gardens, Staghorn Crest, Hanging Gardens, Lobster Lair, North Point, and West Ridge.

Even though White-Tip Avenue has plenty of reef sharks and the Hanging Gardens has a good amount of soft corals, our top sites for Sipadan scuba diving include Sipadan Jetty, Turtle Cavern, Barracuda Point, Mid-Reef and South Point.

Here, we are going to highlight those top choices and let you know the great things they have to offer.

1. Sipadan Jetty

This site is at the island’s northern point. When the beach reaches the Jetty, there is a sudden drop that goes all the way down to 600 meters below. It makes for a really spectacular wall dive.

As you are swimming along, you’ll get to see soft and hard corals alike as well as schools of mackerel, batfish, and barracuda. There is plenty of wall overhand to enjoy

 In addition, you can take peaks over that overhang to see white tip reef sharks, which are pretty common in the area. A little less common, but still a possibility is a sighting of a leopard shark.

2. Turtle Cavern

This is easily considered the most talked about dive sites in all of Sipadan. It is also called Turtle Tomb. It sits around 20 meters below the surface and is a relatively short swim from the Jetty.

At this dive site, you are going to find a really incredible system of caves. Many of the locals in the area claim that this is where turtles come to die. You will absolutely find turtle skeletons at this dive site.

With that said, you will also see your fair share of live turtles swimming around within the caves. Most divers are unable to keep count of how many turtles they see in this area.

3. Barracuda Point

Just as you would assume from its name, this location is known for its big schools of barracuda. There are literally hundreds of barracuda at this site most of the time, and if you happen to dive on a lucky day, you might even get to see a barracuda tornado. This is when schools of fish swim in a spiral, which essentially creates a wall of fish spinning together.

There are also soft and hard corals at this site along with blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays, bump-head parrotfish, and triggerfish.

This location is just a short three-minute boat ride from the Jetty. It is around 20 meters down. The water currents at this location can get fairly strong, which is something you want to keep in mind if you aren’t that experienced at diving.

4. Mid-Reef

This site is for the diver who isn’t really as interested in seeing creatures as in seeing corals. This site is also incredibly colorful.

It is only ten minutes away from the Jetty via a boat, and it offers dive depths that range from 15 to 20 meters. You can also see green turtles as well as Moorish idols, anemonefish, and colorful sea fans here.

5. South Point

This diving site takes 15 minutes to get to from the Jetty. It is just southeast of the island and is comprised of a wall with a ledge just about 20 meters below and then a drastic dropdown.

If you take a look over the drop, you are likely to see some rare sharks, including thresher sharks and hammerheads. This location has pretty strong currents, so it isn’t for the completely inexperienced diver.


If you have the opportunity to take part in Sipadan scuba diving, the above locations can’t be missed. Between incredible vertical walls and some of the best opportunities to see unique marine life, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

If you are really interested in other unique diving locations, you can also check out lists of the best freediving spots as well as the list of the top spots for Sumatra diving.

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