Since overnight stays on Sipadan
island are no longer allowed, the Sipadan Dive islands which includes Sipadan
Island refers to the nearby dive island resorts and reef resorts from which
the world famous dive sites of Sipadan are within reach for day dives.
These includes the islands of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai which belong to the
Ligitan group and Mataking Island in the southeast and Roach reef in the west.
Sipadan is noted as one of the top dive sites in the world, is located at the
heart of one of the richest marine habitats in the world, with more than 3,000
species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this
The residential schooling barracuda and big- eye trevally are one of the
highlights on every divers wish-list which often gather in thousands forming
spectacular tornado-like formations. With the possibility of seeing pelagics
such as mantas, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks, each
dive at Sipadan is a highly anticipated event. Its not only the frogfish that
amaze divers coming to Sipadan, the macro life is equally mesmerizing. Garden
eels, leaf scorpionfish. mantis shrimps, fire graces and various pipefish are
guaranteed at various dive sites. The diversity and abundance of marine life
found at Sipadan gives it its reputation of being one of the ten best dive
locations in the world.
Since overnight stays on the island are no longer allowed, divers now stay at
resorts on nearby islands such as Pulau Mabul, Kapalai and reef resorts of
Mataking and Roach Reef. Staying on these islands, divers can dive either in
the morning or after lunch or opt to stay the entire day on Sipadan but sign
up at your respective dive centres for separate dive groups for the morning
and the afternoon session. This will indicate to the dive masters that you
wish to stay on the island for both dive times. The boat rides can take from
25mins (from Mabul), 18mins (from Kapalai), and 80mins (from Mataking).
Mabul island is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and
perched on the northwest corner of a larger 2 square kilometre reef. Mabul
first became popular due to its proximity to Sipadan island. Few years back,
it has gained its recognition as one of the best "muck diving" sites in the
The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding
the reef slopes out to 25 to 30 m deep. There are several dive resorts
operating on Mabul island.
Mabul is arguably one of the riches single destinations for exotic small
marine life anywhere in the world. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus,
mimic octopus and bobtail squids are just a few of the numerous types of
cephalopods to be found on Mabul's reef. The sight of harlequin shrimp feeding
on sea stars and boxer crabs waving their tiny anemone pompoms are just a
small example of the endless species of crustaceans. Many types of gobies can
be found and Frogfish are everywhere. It would be quicker to list the species
not found at Mabul - crazy critters are in abundance at this magical macro
The reef resort of Kapalai, just 20 minutes off Sipadan and 45 minutes from
Semporna, was a beautiful island two hundred years ago, but now it is only a
sand bar. Erosion has reduced the island to sea level and is now - Kapalai is
a water village resort sitting atop a shallow reef on the edge of the
extensive Ligitan Reefs. All of the buildings are on stilts which go down into
Kapalai is unique as guests can see from their resort accommodation straight
down into the clear waters. It is another macro paradise but unlike Mabul the
visibility is usually better here. Most diving is done in shallow clear water
so it is ideal for beginners. In a sense it is like being on a spacious
immobile live-aboard. There are many dive sites around Kapalai.
The furthest from Sipadan, Mataking is a private island next to Sipadan, north of Mabul. The island is
three times the size of Sipadan about 40 acres. The island is 40 minute by
boat east of Semporna. From Mataking you can enjoy convenient, hassle-free and
diverse macro-diving as well as the daytrips to Sipadan 80 minutes by
Mataking Island is in fact two islands connected by a sandbar. The Mataking
Besar (Big Mataking) and Mataking Kechil (Small Mataking). On the Big Mataking
Island is the only resort, The Reef Dive Resort. The emphasis of Mataking is
on luxury and pampering, with large, ethnically decorated rooms that have
their own private views and balconies.
Mataking has numerous shallow reefs which makes it an ideal place to learn to
dive. The island provides plenty of sites for both novice and advanced diver
alike. Mataking would make a great place for a beginning diver to learn and
build their confidence before heading off to Sipadan, which is only a hours
boat journey away. Moreover, because Mataking is more of a traditional resort
rather than a mainly dive-orientated resort, there are plenty of activities
for non-divers and children to take part in if they wish. This makes Mataking
an ideal family destination.
Apart from the resort and a small police station the islands are covered in
natural jungle. Green and Hawksbill turtles frequently come up to lay their
eggs in the sands
Roach Reef is a a private, man-made tropical reef built on by the sinking of 2
used steel barge in 1993; Situated about 25 mins by speed boat from Balung
It s location, right the outer most reefs from Tawau and on the edge of the
Borneo shelf is less then 50 mins away from Sipadan Island, makes it a
paradise for divers and non divers alike. The waters surrounding the resort is
off limits for fishing. For those interested in fishing can go by speed boat
to a popular spot about two kilometers away.
Roach Reefs Resort offers daily three boat dives and two shore dives, all
under the watchful eyes and guidance of master divers and dive instructors.