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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sipadan Island

The name of Sipadan is simply legendary in diving circles, conjuring images of patrolling hammerhead sharks, millions of technicolored reef fish and, above all, dozens of sea turtles swimming peacefully everywhere. It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. The rich and unique variety of corals both soft and hard. Reef fish of every shape and hue can be found in these waters. Colorful butterfly fishes, angel fishes, damsel fishes of electric blue and bright orange colors inhabit the coral reefs, thus adding to the splendor of the underwater havens. Between April and September, the Green and Hawksbill turtles will come ashore in droves to nest in the soft golden sands of Sipadan. When you dive during this time, you are bound to encounter these harmless denizens of the deep

Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 2,000 feet or 600m from the seabed. It is located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau (45-minute boat ride from Semporna) and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo.

A beautiful white-sand beach fringes Sipadan but the real beauty of this island is in its waters. The season for diving is from mid-February to mid-December. Visibility ranges from 60 feet to over 200 feet. Several dive spots have even been identified and given exotic names after the variety of corals and marine life that are unique to these spots. There is the "Hanging Gardens", the "Barracuda Point", and the exciting "Turtle Cavern".

Professional diving companies operate on the island, complete with water, electricity, food, drinks, and comfortable accommodation for an unforgettable experience.

The island is known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world. The rate for three dives at Sipadan is around RM260, plus RM40 for equipment (if required). Rates vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included. Additionally, a permit from Sabah Parks is required to access the island, which costs RM40. Permits are limited to 120 per day and are typically obtained by the dive operators. You should verify that the diver operator you choose is diving at Sipadan with permits, as some companies have been caught diving the island recently without permits.

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