After the awesome party and three dives at Mabul and Kapalai the previous day, we woke up feeling a heightened level of excitement despite having slept only a few hours. It was what we’ve been waiting for, the three dives at Sipadan awaits.
Sipadan, a Paradise without the nosy St. Peter
Acclaimed by the late (and apparently super famous) marine biologist Jacques Cousteau as “an untouched piece of art”, Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. Formed by living corals on top of an extinct volcanic cone rising 600 meters from the seabed, the island is often regarded as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
turtles like to come here for party
We took off from Mabul island at about 9 in the morning and arrived at Paradise some 20 minutes later. Gone were the resorts surrounding the island since the local authority decided to shut them down, there are only 120 permits issued per day for diver/snorkelers at Sipadan.
While this may frustrate people who made the long journey without proper planning and ended up not being able to dive here, I think it is a right step in conservation of the island and dive sites. This basically made sure that there won’t be more than a couple dozen boats coming to the island per day, limiting pollution as well as potential damage too the eco system caused by overly touchy divers too.
a huge school of jackfish
Our first dive was at White Tip, 10:10am. It was wall dive with vertical drop of 600 meters into the deep blue. As the name suggests, we did really see some white tip sharks, and there were plenty of turtles. In fact, all three dive sites at Sipadan were full of sea turtles. Sea turtle resting on cora, sea turtle swimming, sea turtle hiding in the cave, it was like a space ships in starwars, they’re everywhere.
We also spotted a pretty good size trigger fish, and fortunately it wasn’t their breeding season just yet and no one was attacked. They can be pretty vicious when protecting their nests. Tales of taking a chunk out of diver’s fins are not uncommon. 18 meters maximum depth and 45 minutes later, we understood the rave about Sipadan.
corals and many tiny colorful fishes
After about an hour’s rest, we headed to the Hanging Garden for our second dive. Maximum depth of 18 meters for another 45 minutes of eye feast. There were unicorn fish, beautiful reef sharks, angel fish, moray eels, tiny blue/red/spotted tropical fish, and of course, more turtles.
After the second dive, we stopped by the island and swallowed had some lunch that was tapao-ed from Uncle Chang’s. A bit of shrimps, vegetable, and some fried chicken wings never tasted so good and yet so irrelevant, we were all too excited anticipating our final dive.
bumhead parrot fish that’s really huge, sharks
The last dive of the trip was naturally, the famous Barracuda Point that is located just a stone’s throw away from the jetty. Right at the get go, we saw a huge school of jackfish swimming in a swirling in a giant ball. The dive master actually used my camera to take a video of me swimming into it, I shall figure out how to use iMovie on this mac and post up the video soon. It was pretty amazing.
The amount of fish at this area is astounding, we saw all the fish described previously except in much higher concentration, and there were plenty of sharks too (usually around 3 feet in length). Most amazing of all was the herd of bum head parrot fish we followed for a while, they were as big as me and most probably heavier. Pretty calm and chilling though, minding their own business and shat a lot at the same time.
It was an awesome experience diving at Barracuda Point, and I will surely return to this site in the future, after all we didn’t manage to see the famous barracuda tower on the dive despite being underwater for another 45 minutes.
Mabul island tour, at nemo island shell fish shop
One of Uncle Chang’s employee, Zul, volunteered and took us for foot tour around the island of Mabul. We took about an hour to complete the some 2km path, and Lynn discovered Mabul’s ipod where you can listen to the ocean from anywhere in the world in stereo.
More on Mabul island on the next post.