Friday, October 28, 2005


Diving Trip to Sipadan

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Manchester - Singapore - Sipadan

With a business trip to Singapore looming and no holiday

organised for the Red Sea this winter, I looked for an
extension to the Singapore trip to get in some good diving.

I first tried some UK dive tour operators to see if a
stop-over in Singapore could be organised but the flights
were not available. Then it was onto the web for a local
operator to book a tour out of Singapore. I found several
but selected Waikiki Divers because they seemed to have
flexible tour lengths and times. A quick email followed
by a phone call put me in touch with Stella Lee from
Waikiki who was able to create a six day, five night trip
to Sipadan on the day required, and returning in time for
the flight back to Manchester.

From Singapore it was a 9:30 am taxi to the Senai airport
across the border in Malaysia, a flight to Kotu Kinabalu,
followed by another to Tawau, and then a one hour minibus
ride to get within one last leg of the destination. A one
night stay at the very spacious and quite luxurious
Seaquest Hotel in Semporna was the break in the journey.

The following morning at 8:30 am we were met by the
mini-bus which transferred us the short distance to the
jetty where Palau Sipadan resort tours have their shore
base. A 1 hour speedboat ride was the final staqe to get
to Kapali where the accomodation is in wooden chalets
connected by wooden walkways built over a submerged reef,
with a small very white beach uncovered at low tide. No
one has been able to stay on Sipadan itself since 1/1/2005,
apart from some soldiers whose job is to prevent divers who
land there for their surface interval, from wandering off
down the beach or into the inerior of the island.

Our group comprised one from England, an American, a
Canadian, a Turkish couple and a Japanese, so plenty of
opportunity for swapping notes on world diving.

The Sipadan Diving

The check out dive followed later in the morning and
was a dive from the jetty at the dive centre. Basically
a sandy bottom with coral blocks and quite a variety of
small fish. In the afternoon a short boat ride to
sweet-lips table led to a similar dive but with somewhat
bigger fish (sting rays, large jacks) giant mantis
shrimps and a very large turtle. Most evenings the dive
centre organised a dusk dive for those with the energy
left. Some considerable time was spent trying to get
photgraphs of a shy mandarin fish.

Copyright Fatimah Duffy-Renfro, http://www.scuba-azusa.comThe next day we took the boat to Sipadan (about half an hour away with 300-400 horsepower behind us). In the morning we dived at the coral garden area, and after a break went to the South Point. Here the life was what you might expect from one of the top dive sites in the world. I counted 11 white tip reef sharks resting on the bottom, was passed by a six foot tiger shark going the other way, one Napolean wrasse, too many turtles to count
and an octopus in the shallows at the end of the dive.

For variety we also went to Mabul Island where we dived
in the junk underneath the SeaVentures rig. Here were
plenty of exotic small creatures (nudibranchs, frog fish
etc) but too much man-made rubbish for my liking.

Further dives at Sipadan saw similar numbers of macro
creatures, including a large shoal of barracuda forming
the traditional swirling cylinder, and again an unlimited
selection of turtles.

We were extremely well looked after by the staff at
Kapalai, the food was good, the weather warm but really
quite windy (which keeps the huts cool at least).

Trip of a Lifetime

The trip was well organised, everything went just like
clockwork but was very relaxed at the same time. So if
you get as far as Singapore I stringly recommend you
contact Stella at Waikiki Divers and let them organise
the trip of a lifetime for you.

More Information

For other dive operators going to Sipadan see the SCUBA Travel Malaysia Diver Operators page. For the diving around Sipadan see the dive sites page.

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