Sipadan | Meet Malaysia

Meet Malaysia is a blog series that explores the most amazing dive destinations in Malaysia, with insights by the locals who know them best.

Author: Zachary Cabading

Published: August 30, 2023

“I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art.”

— Jacques Cousteau

Few islands offer a spectacle more immaculate than mighty Sipadan.

Famous for schools of pelagic fish, deep coral walls, and a staggering number of sharks and sea turtles, Sipadan is a bucket-list destination for divers far and wide.

This single, tiny island — which you could walk a circle around in just about 30 minutes — is the definition of a natural aquarium, so small yet so densely packed with marine life.

Equally astonishing is the lionhearted effort made by the government and dive resorts to protect the island’s incredible habitat.

Pulau Sipadan (most commonly pronounced "Sip-Uh-Dawn") is a nesting and mating ground for sea turtles. A juvenile green turtle is pictured here.

In late July, a speedboat carries me to Pulau Mabul, the gateway island to Sipadan.

A storm has recently passed through Borneo and the waters are still turbulent. The waves are punching the speedboat several feet into the air and I’m getting hang time as the boat launches off each of the rollers.

Bad viz lately is the word on the street. No surprise there.

I cross my fingers and whisper a prayer to the ocean gods.

2. The Dive Resort