Dive trip video made by Brian below:
When we heard about Sipadan and the neighboring islands that offer diversity in both big and small underwater creatures to see, we have added it to our “must-go” diving destinations. So when Brian knew he will be going to Penang, Malaysia for a business trip, we both decided to stop by Sabah to dive.
Since I was already in Manila, I flew for 3 1/2 hours via Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur where I met Brian, since he had to fly from Penang for an hour via Air Asia. Then we both took the plane to Tawau from KL for 3 hours via Malaysian Airlines. From Tawau airport, we had a bus ride for 1 1/2 hour to Semporna jetty. Kapalai resort was an hour speedboat ride. Boat and land transfers were included in our resort package.
Kapalai resort was recommended by a friend and is known to be one of the best places to stay to dive Sipadan. It is a beautiful water village with all inclusive package for both divers and non divers. For us divers, we also have unlimited dives in their house reef.
There are 2 types of schedule for diving there: Kapalai/Mabul and Sipadan. Kapalai/Mabul is muck or macro diving (you see tiny critters). Occasionally, you can see bumphead parrotfishes and schooling chevron barracuda in the Kapalai housereef while you see giant groupers and turtles in Mabul. Mabul is just a 5 minute boat ride from Kapalai.
Sipadan is a 20 minute boat ride from Kapalai resort. It is a restricted area with military bases and before diving, you have to register personally with your dive guide. They only allow 120 divers per day for marine protection and you are not allowed to roam around the island except for the designated area for resort guests.
Sipadan on the other hand offers pelagics (big creatures) which include schooling jacks, schooling bumphead parrotfishes, turtles, giant clams and white tip sharks. My personal favorite was the schooling bumphead parrotfishes. I’ve never seen so much ever since. They are commonly seen in barracuda point or the coral garden dive site.
The schooling jacks were a common sight too. We see them in the shallow 5 meters, sometimes escorted by giant trevallies and white tip sharks.
In diving, we say luck is being at the right place in the right time. Well, guess what? We were lucky to see both schooling jacks and parrotfishes all in the same time. Isn’t traffic more fun underwater?
It was indeed an amazing dive, which happened on our last diving day in Sipadan. But we even got some more surprise as we descended. It looks like it is mating season for the turtles here since we’ve seen it twice in our 3-day dive in Sipadan. It was also in Sipadan that Ive seen so much turtles in 1 dive, atleast 30 of them!
After diving Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai, we both feel blessed to be living in the triangle of biodiversity between Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. We look forward to exploring more of this triangle soon!