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Sabah ~ Sipadan Dive Islands

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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 Island
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 ecosystem.

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
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 world.

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 site!

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 the water.

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 speedboat.

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 hour’s 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
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 River, Tawau.

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.







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