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Dive Review of Sipadan Water Village in
Malaysia/Sipadan, Borneo

April, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Linda & Ron Welf, cA, usa
Contributor   (16 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 2515
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Caymans 2 weeks, Honduras 2 weeks, Belize 2 weeks Fiji 6 weeks, Palau a
week, Yap 5 days, Truk a week, Cozumel 10 days, Lembeh Straights 2 weeks
Bunaken a week.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
83   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
70   to 140    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
very relaxed diving  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
Our stay at the Sipadan Water Village on Mabul Island had a great
combination of wall dives with pelagics and turtles on Sipadan Island in
the morning and odd critters on Mabul and Kapalai Islands in the afternoon.
In 9 relaxing days, we did 25 dives, 18 of which were on Sipadan. The
diversity of fish was such that even repeat visits to the same dive site
were enjoyable. 

The Malaysian military with assault rifles have a full-time presence on
Sipadan and local police boats often stopped overnight at Mabul as well.
This provided a great deal of peace of mind, in view of past incidents.

Our favorite site Barracuda Point hosted both pelagics and colorful reef
fish. The wall tapers into a sandy area, which seems to be a cleaning
station for white tips. Here we watched cleaner wrasse enter shark gills
and then be coughed out. Larger grey reef sharks were found below 80
feet. On one dive, a large leopard shark swam by twice.

Considering the constant diver traffic on this tiny spot of ocean, the
Sipadan reef looked relatively healthy, with the beat up site Drop Off
near the boat jetty, being the notable exception. Just when we became
disappointed here, over a hundred large bumphead parrotfish, unwilling to
detour around us, swam a path right through our group of divers. And there
were some rare small fish here too.

Chances are you will encounter a large school of some type. At a depth of
only twenty feet, we were surrounded by thousands of jacks as they moved in
a large circle. There were also large schools of mackerel, blue trigger,
bannerfish, fusiliers, and smaller schools of barracuda, spadefish, and

On most Sipadan dives, we came face-to-face with sea turtles, perhaps
fifteen or twenty per dive. Many turtles were sleeping on ledges and could
be approached closely. White tip sharks were also a frequent sighting. In
the shallows, tiny golden, pink, turquoise, and fuchsia colored fish were
plentiful. This April, the titan triggerfish were building nests and if a
diver got too close, they launched an attack.

There were too many fish to detail, but a few that come to mind were
anemonefish (tomato, pink, orange, Clarks and the false clown), lionfish,
scorpion fish, blue ribbon eels, cuttlefish, bird wrasse, sailfin tang,
fire and two-tone dartfish, rabbitfish, puffer, angelfish, checkered
snapper, clown triggerfish, hawkfish, octopus, moray eel, flying gurnard,
flounder, shrimp goby and blind shrimp at their shared burrows,
blue-spotted ray, unicorn fish, and one lone ornate ghost pipefish. 

Mabul has three dive resorts. Our spacious over-water bungalows had no AC,
but there was a high velocity fan. Since there were no screens on the
windows and sliding doorways, we were vulnerable to bugs. One windless
night, I did get bites all over my face while sleeping. My husband applied
100% DEET before bed, and was spared. After taking one look at me, the
manager Alex installed a mosquito net over our bed. This net was a
prototype of one that he is considering putting in all units. We heard that
the new resort next to SWV does have AC and screens, so that is an

Meals were buffet style and had a variety of choices. Breakfast starts at
6:30 AM and the boat departs Mabul around 7:30 AM. The house reef had some
exotic looking juveniles like juvenile batfish and shallow water fish like
razorfish. From the pier at night, we could see an eagle ray and several
lionfish below our feet. This being a leisure trip, we skipped the night

Off Mabul, we enjoyed diving under the Seaventure oil platform, where we
found scorpion fish, frogfish, stonefish, cockatoo wasp fish, batfish and
many crocodile flatheads. We also found Spanish dancer flatworms, several
nudibranchs laying eggs and a pygmy seahorse. Our friends saw a stargazer
swim and then settle into the sand. Elvis is a huge moray living inside a
cage of metal debris.

Tiny Kapalai is really only a sandbank visible at low tide, on which a new
dive resort has been built. This diving seemed best for macro photography.

After the dive portion of our trip, we visited the Sepilok Orangutan
Rehabilitation Center and I highly recommend this stop. After this, we took
an overnight boat trip tour into the jungle to view the wildlife along the
Kinabatangan River. If you take this trip, try to get an air-conditioned
jungle bungalow, because it is very hot and humid. 

Along the river, we saw a python, orangutan, macaques, boar swimming, many
exotic birds, and a large crocodile sunning itself. The highlight was
watching several troops of the rare and endangered proboscis monkeys
clambering through the trees.

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